- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2005

Jessica Simpson feels your pain. There are days when the 26-year-old megastar cannot jam her derriere into her size 0 designer jeans and must go up to a Brobdingnagian size 2. In the spirit of sisterly solidarity, Miss Simpson has launched a line of jeans, Jessica Simpson Denim, at the plus-size retailer the Avenue.

Excuse me? Judging from the sight of Jessica Simpson’s form in those Daisy Dukes in “The Dukes of Hazzard” movie (where the media swallowed whole her deep-fried hokum about her merciless exercise regimen and pitiful existence on egg whites and broccoli), she seems like the last person on Earth who could relate to those of us whose clothing sizes run in the double digits. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the estimated 60 million plus-size women in America.)

One guesses the whole idea behind Jessica Simpson Denim — other than making piles of money off the broad backs of the overweight — is to show us that we are all the same beneath our Juicy jeans, although anyone past a size 10 would probably have to buy two pairs of the $300-and-up pants and stitch them together to get the same effect as your basic celebrity. With Miss Simpson bringing out her signature line of denims (which cost about $60 a pair), she is telling us that even the thin and the famous have “bad body days,” just like the adipose-challenged.

What passes for a “fat day” in Jessica Simpson’s world? Not being in immediate danger of slipping through the chair slats at a chic L.A. bistro? Casting a shadow? Pulling up to Lindsay Lohan at a red light and shouting, “Race ya, thunder-thighs.” Jessica Simpson’s foray into plus-sized clothing could be motivated by the bottom line, and we’re not talking the dimensions of one’s booty.

According to the market research company NPD Group Inc., the women’s plus-size clothing market alone generates $22 billion in sales every year, with a growth of 15 percent over the next four years. At least 800 Web sites offer plus-size clothing items, and the hottest market is hip, larger-sized clothing for teens and young adults.

To that end, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen also are reportedly launching a plus-size clothing line.

If there is anything more patently absurd than Jessica Simpson hawking jeans that both she and Nick Lachey could comfortably fit into in one pant leg, it’s two anorexics exploiting our nation’s expanding waistlines. What’s the slogan, “We don’t eat, but please, go ahead, have seconds”?

Jessica Simpson and the Olsen twins are not alone in their efforts to pass themselves off as “just one of the girls.” Alicia Keys and Vanessa Williams are currently ‘fessing up to their zits in infomercials for the acne cream Pro Activ — a product Miss Simpson also endorses. Apparently, pimples are something of a crisis in the entertainment world, since none other than Sean “Diddy” Combs is rumored to be next in line to shill for Pro Activ.

Examples of celebrities as “plain folks” abound.

Actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Andie MacDowell cover their gray hairs with boxes of Garnier Nutrisse and L’Oreal hair dye. Yeah, like we are supposed to believe they get that impossibly shiny and deep hair color from a product that costs six bucks on sale at CVS. Just like we were supposed to take seriously Cher’s endorsement of a shampoo and hair care line — the woman wears wigs 24 hours a day, people. Janine Turner suffers from dry eyes — not a good thing for an actress who makes a living by being able to turn on the waterworks at will. Former “Charlie’s Angel” Cheryl Ladd is there to help menopausal women navigate the treacherous waters of whether or not to go for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT, by the way, was merrily touted by model Lauren Hutton and singer Patti LaBelle before warnings about increased heart attack and stroke risks surfaced.

Of course, this is nothing new. Remember Martha Raye and her Polygrip commercials from the 1970s? Jane Russell selling Playtex bras for “we full-figured gals,” or June Allyson sweetly hawking Depends incontinence undergarments? And who can forget George Kennedy and his bad breath woes, as chronicled in the Breath Assure ads? That poor man. Apparently after a plate of linguini a la pesto, he could peel paint off the walls.

Gray hair, stench mouth, unpredictable bladders, droopy breasts, pizza faces — apparently, celebrities suffer through it all, just like we mere mortals do.

You mean to tell me the average celeb has a personal trainer, nutritionist, makeup artist, hairdresser, personal stylist, image consultant, yoga master, and energy manipulator and yet they still have bloat, split ends, and a complexion better suited to a Dalmatian? That’s not the way stardom is supposed to work.

Do we really need to know their every flaw? There is something to be said for illusion — that celebrities are different from those of us who spend our hard-earned cash seeing their movies, renting their DVDs, buying their music.

We want perfection, skin like the surface of a pearl, bodies with nary a ripple or wrinkle, hair in which we can see our reflections.

We don’t mind hearing that someone as gorgeous as Jennifer Aniston can’t keep a guy, that Colin Farrell has the moral conscience of a rutabaga, or that Angelina Jolie may be a home-wrecker. But Hollywood, keep your sweaty pits, your zits, and your fits of low self-esteem to yourself.

And have somebody like Wynonna Judd or Mo’Nique lend their flair to a line of plus-sized jeans and clothing. Now, they are true sisters of the flesh.

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