When Jennifer Hudson took the stage at the Oscars to tearfully accept her best-supporting-actress award, it wasn't about an American Idol reject's rise to glory. Nor was it about a humble church girl from the south side of Chicago taking Hollywood by storm. It wasn't even about the power of a song, and how J-Hud captured the world's attention with her soul-stirring Dreamgirls solo "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going". Hudson's Oscar moment marked the turning of the tide for pop culture's reigning beauty ideal–her full-figured, voluptuous size-12 self literally screamed the shift. "Ha!" it shouted out gleefully. "Thick is the new thin, baby."
For the last decade or so, pop tarts have been rapidly shrinking. Madonna spent years in the gym, sweating away every ounce of body fat. Gwen Stefani–who sported an endearing tummy in the "Don't Speak" video–did the same. Teeny bopper Hillary Duff dieted down to a shadow of her former self.
Hollywood followed suit. Nicole Richie turned up on the cover of tabloids looking ghastly in a bikini, her skin stretched across bones that stuck out at odd angles. Fashion models, too, jumped on the bandwagon. Gone were the relatively healthy-looking supermodels like Cindy Crawford. In their place were legions of Size Zero, skeletal runway wrecks, dying to be thin. Literally. (In 2006, three models passed away from starvation, effectively ringing the alarm for the entire fashion industry and ushering in BMI guidelines.) The Devil Wears Prada perfectly captured the mood when Emily Blunt bragged that she was just one stomach flu away from her ideal look.
All this tedious weight watching predictably trickled down to legions of teen girls, who are increasingly hitting the scales, counting calories, banishing carbs from their diet (boooo), and obsessing over every unwanted inch.
It's no surprise, then, that a backlash has been brewing. The general public has developed a serious case of skinny fatigue, and has been busy embracing stars that look like they might enjoy a decent meal from time to time. Jennifer Lopez laid the groundwork for the Thick Revolution with her í¼ber-famous ass. Bootylicious Beyoncí‰ was next to take up the cause, unapologetically shaking her jelly for all to see, all the while defiantly commenting on how much she loves fried chicken and cheeseburgers. Mariah picked up a little extra padding, and it looked good.
Tyra Banks gained 30 pounds after retiring from modelling, and wasn't about to take any crap for it either. When tabloids printed unflattering beach pictures of the America's Next Top Model host–dubbing her America's Next Top Waddle and Thigh-ra Banks–she struck back, looking sexy on the cover of People under the headline "You call this fat?"
If one requires proof that healthy is hot right now, though, one need look no further than the crowning of Jennifer Hudson as the new it girl. This month–in what can only be described as a victory for cheesecake lovers everywhere–the R&B singer graces the cover of fashion bible Vogue. In her editor's letter, legendary tastemaker Anna Wintour welcomes a new beauty ideal. "She's a style icon whose happiness in her own skin is something we can draw strength from," the editrix writes. "The question of body image is a current one, and I can't think of a more compelling and beautiful argument for the proposition that great fashion looks great on women of all sizes than the sight of Hudson in a Vera Wang gown on the red carpet."
Thing is, J-Hud doesn't need Anna Wintour to cosign her milk shake. She's big and she's beautiful, and she damn well knows it. "I'm the size of the average girl and my theory is that we're not too big, they're too small," the 25-year-old recently told the New York Times. "I would much rather have meat on my bones." A big fat amen to that.