Kate Upton was named People‘s first-ever Sexiest Woman Alive at the People Magazine Awards — also a “first-ever” — Thursday night, driving a final nail into the coffin of sharp-tongued critics who derided her as “fat” when she exploded onto the pop culture landscape more than two years ago.
People Magazine annually names a “Sexiest Man Alive,” and plasters the lucky gentleman — usually an actor or a singer — on the cover of an issue that comes out usually in November. The 2014 “Sexiest Man Alive,” according to People, was Marvel Comics’ Thor superhero, the 31-year-old Australian actor Chris Hemsworth.
But People had always left the judging of female sexiness to others. Until 2014, when the magazine staged its first entry in the ever-swelling glut of increasingly meaningless awards ceremonies, rounding out the evening — which saw Jennifer Aniston win “Movie Performance of the Year” by an actress for her role in Cake — by awarding the busty, blonde 22-year-old Upton its first “Sexiest Woman Alive” honorific.
In a time when television networks appear increasingly desperate to fill the airwaves with awards shows as an excuse to show as many celebrity faces as possible in one sitting, NBC broadcast the two-hour People Magazine Awards live from the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel.
Upton, who saw her first featured role in a feature film in 2014 starring alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann in The Other Woman, accepted the award graciously, saying, “This is such an honor to me because sexy to me means someone who’s confident and happy, and that’s the person I always strive to be.”
She appeared at the awards show without her current flame, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, though the two have made several recent public appearances.
Upton proved that her goofy grin and 34D bustline are as potent on screen as in her Sports Illustrated swimsuit modeling spreads. The Other Woman, despite a tepid reception by critics, earned more than $196 million worldwide, and about $84 million in the U.S., easily outstripping its $40 million production budget.
Upton’s surge in 2014 appears to be a vindication not only for her, but for all women who do not fit the ultra-thin body type aggressively promoted by Hollywood and the fashion industry as some sort of ideal of female beauty.
Just two years ago, Upton was derided by one online fashion blogger as “lazy, lardy,” and looking like “a squishy brick,” and by the editor of a British fashion magazine as appearing “like a footballer’s wife, with the too-blond hair and that kind of face that anyone with enough money can go out and buy.”
Even former supermodel Carol Alt dismissed Kate Upton as “more of a large size model.”
But with by being named People’s Sexiest Woman Alive, Kate Upton forces her critics to bow to changing, and some would say more realistic, standards.