Girl Talk: How Joan Holloway Gives Me Confidence

In honor of the season four premiere of “Mad Men” on Sunday, July 25th at 10/9 Central on AMC, this weekend The Frisky is re-posting a few of our favorite “Mad Men”-inspired essays.

As a redhead, I’ve often been told I resemble, well, anyone else who also happens to have red — or even reddish — hair. When I had a pixie cut, people told me all the time I looked like a young Mia Farrow from “Rosemary’s Baby,” and before that, when my hair was longer, I always got compared to Lauren Ambrose from “Six Feet Under.” About two years ago people started telling me I looked like a character on a new series called “Mad Men.” I’d never seen the show, but a friend soon emailed me a picture of Joan Holloway and wrote “Your doppelganger!” in the subject line. I had to admit — we did kind of look a little alike.A few months after that, I actually met a “Mad Men” cast member at our mutual friends’ Super Bowl party and he even made a comment about how much I resembled his co-star, Christina Hendricks (something my husband likes to bring up as often as possible). It wasn’t until several months later when I finally rented the first season of the show that I really understood what a compliment it was to be compared to the incomparable Joan Holloway. She’s a vixen! A sex symbol! A goddess in tailored officewear! If people like the way she looks, and they think I look like her, that can’t be a bad thing, right? Almost immediately, I started feeling more confident about myself.

While Joan and I both have red hair, and share some similar facial features and personality traits, it’s the comparison of our curves that’s really boosted my self-esteem. Like Joan, I’m a busty gal with big hips that wiggle when I walk. And like Christina Hendricks, the actress who plays Joan, I often wish I weren’t so curvy — that I were at least ten pounds thinner, and that clothes fit me better. See, fashion isn’t really made for women with tits and an ass. When you flip through fashion magazines, how often do you see women with any real curves? It almost never happens. And when every major designer and media outlet seems to think people who look like you don’t exist, it’s easy to sometimes wish you — well, your curves, anyway — didn’t. But that was before Joan Holloway and the popularity of “Mad Men.”

Joan is so utterly confident in her skin — so sexy in her confidence — that these days it’s cool to be curvy. Thirteen years ago when I got a breast reduction surgery and my doctor warned me I’d get bigger again over time, the last thing I ever thought I’d be okay with was wearing a D-cup once more. But this year when I hit that milestone for the second time in my life, I didn’t shriek and I didn’t cry — I just thought of Joan Holloway and how well she owns her size. I thought about the countless articles that have been written about her look and style, and about how she — and the actress who plays her — has “redefined female beauty on TV.”

After our wedding last month, my new husband and I threw a small party at our apartment and I did something I hadn’t done in ages — I donned a very form-fitting dress. This dress didn’t just hug my curves, it had a full-on make-out session with them. And it was satin to boot, which, as you probably know, is like shining a spotlight on every rounded edge of your body and yelling, “Hey there, take a look this!” Sure, I was high on holy matrimony and many glasses of champagne, but I like to think my confidence came from more than that. Towards the end of the night as my swagger became even more pronounced (thanks, again, to all that bubbly), a friend of my husband’s said to me: “Hey, has anyone ever told you you look just like Joan Holloway?” I cocked my head, batted my eyelashes, and said “thank you,” in my best husky-voiced Joan imitation. And then I clinked glasses with him, smiled, and took another swig of my drink.