Christina Hendricks Opened Up About the Blatant Media Sexism in Her ‘Mad Men’ Days
The questions were all about bras rather than character development, she says.
Christina Hendricks began playing Joan Holloway on critically acclaimed drama Mad Men in 2007. But it wasn't until the early 2010s that she and her fellow female costars, January Jones and Elisabeth Moss, began being seen as main characters in the series. However, even after Joan became a central protagonist, "everyone just wanted to ask me about my bra," Hendricks told The Guardian on June 2nd.
Despite the emotional growth of their Mad Men characters, Hendricks and Jones, specifically, were talked about in the media for their bodies rather than the complex women they portrayed.
"There certainly was a time when we were very critically acclaimed, and getting a lot of attention for our very good work and our very hard work," Hendricks said, "and everyone just wanted to ask me about my bra again. There are only two sentences to say about a bra."
She said that when the show first premiered, the Don Draper look came back into fashion. "Suits came back in, skinny ties came back in," Hendricks continued. "It took three to four seasons and then all of a sudden people wanted us [the female stars] on magazines. We were like: 'This is strange—we've been doing this for a while.'"
Of course, Henricks' character was often shot through a sexualized lens in the show, which only heightened the public's objectification of her. But, she says, that's, unfortunately, all part of the game. "Boy, do you think anyone in the entertainment industry comes out unscathed and not objectified? I don't know one musician or one model or one actor who has escaped that."
However, Hendricks has kept her own best interest at heart throughout her Hollywood career. She said, "I have had moments—not on Mad Men; on other things—where people have tried to take advantage of me, use my body in a way I wasn't comfortable with, persuade me or coerce me or professionally shame me: 'If you took your work seriously, you would do this …'"
"Maybe it was my modeling background, but I knew to immediately get on the phone and go: 'Uh oh, trouble,'" she continued. "That's where it's very much a job. We need to talk to the producers and handle this professionally."
As Hendricks said, there's only so much one can say about a bra. Let's make a point to start reframing questions to focus on character growth rather than a fashion statement.