Hot off her debut last night on American Idol, I am reminded of what a righteous babe Jennifer Lopez is and the impact she’s had on me. But before I begin, I must tell you: Celebrity Name Dropping ahead! Warning! Read at your own risk! As fate or life or what-have-you should have it, I have worked in the Celebrity Industrial Complex for years. Sooner or later, some of that experience was going to show up here. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll proceed with my tale. 🙂
I remember when I first became aware of Jennifer Lopez. I was at The Ashram in LA, a hardcore fitness retreat that only has a handful of guests a week. As fate should have it, Sir Charles Barkley was there and as we hike at the same pace (!), we became workout buddies,the two of us schlepping for hours, side by side, up the steep fireroads of Malibu. (Bethany Frankel, turns out, couldn’t keep up…NAME DROP! Told you!) So there we were, huffing and puffing and dreaming of cheeseburgers, and to pass the time we talked and talked and talked about our lives. Charles told me, among other things, that the week before he had been at a dinner at the Ivy in LA and next to him was this emerging actress, Jennifer Lopez, who was SO HOT he literally broke into a sweat looking at her. This was the late 90’s and she had starred in “Selena” but not become a household name yet. I had an idea of who she was but had not paid attention to her, but Charles’ words made me flag her in my memory. About a year later, I saw an early screening of the excellent Stephen Soderbergh movie, “Out of Sight,” starring George Clooney and this same Jennifer. Daaaaaamn, I thought. This gal can act (she was great in that film, a real presence – no relation to what she delivered in Wedding Planner, yeeesh) and then pow, they had their requisite love scene…
Hey! She has meat on her bones! She doesn’t have fake boobs! She is short and solid …and sexy! I was psyched – finally, a woman who looks like a woman was up there on the screen and it was almost a shock. Woo hoo, I can watch a movie and RELATE to the heroine instead of thinking we’re from different phylum. Team Jennifer felt like Team Steph, and that was nice. And the timing was perfect – I was the senior editor assigned to manage the annual Body & Soul issue for InStyle magazine and I lobbied, successfully, to have this gal Jennifer – a woman my Celebrity Spider Sense told me was about to blow up – as our cover girl. This was to be her first big national women’s magazine cover, in fact. Bam! I knew what I was doing – I had an agenda. I wanted to send the message to our readers that the definition of a great body is broader than the classic Barbie stereotype. Jennifer not only has a booty, but she has hips and thighs. She is almost pear shaped as her bottom is distinctly bigger than her top. And it all works like a dream!
But here’s what really stands out about Jennifer. She is comfortable in her own skin, on a level that is truly breathtaking. I have been on photo shoots with her a few times and I have never seen a celebrity move like she does. She looks straight into the camera and must be thinking about the best night of her life or the raciest secret of all time because something delicious is going on in her head. J.Lo enjoys herself. Yup, she’s hot but, frankly, someone else with the same shape could just as easily slump her shoulders and wear baggie clothes and bemoan how short her legs look in skinny jeans. Not Jennifer. She is very happy with her shape, thank you, and she is on fire sexy because she FEELS on fire sexy. She’s confident, deeply confident, because she likes who she is and what she’s got. The gal OWNS it. She’s strong, she can move, she has grace and agility and yes, a big booty for which she has no apologies. I’ll say it – her bodacious ass is LOUD and PROUD and we are all the better for it because she proved to us all that beauty truly does come in all shapes and sizes. Instead of hiding her indiscreet tush, she flaunts it. And that is so cool. She is so awesome because she flips the script we, as women, have been conditioned to recite. I can imagine her asking, “Do these jeans make my ass look big? Yes? Good!” And this resonates with me because when I was younger I, like a zillion other women, spent a long time trying to hide my shape and to conform to a cookie cutter outline that was simply not what my momma gave me and never would be. And all that effort, ah, why? Ideas of beauty are arbitrary so just focus on who YOU are and how YOU are built and don’t worry about the style of the day. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what J.Lo taught me. That’s her secret, and she’d be the first to share it. Love your body and you, too, will have the J.Lo glow. So here’s to you, J.Lo. What Sir Mixalot started, you knocked out of the park. And check out the classic Jenny From the Block video (below.) It’s as fab as ever. Love! xxoo Steph