All of the Mad Men fans who thought January Jones’ real-life pregnancy caused her weight-gain storyline on the show can breathe a sigh of relief.
Jones was never as large as she looked in Sunday night’s Season Five second episode of the hit AMC series, where her character, Betty Draper, is seen carrying some mega-poundage caused by boredom, unhappiness and emotional distance from her second husband, Henry.
The Mad Men prosthetics makeup artists did for Jones what they did for Elizabeth Moss when her character Peggy Olsen was pregnant during Season One: They covered her in a fat suit and prosthetic facial and neck appliances. They also used a back double for Betty when she's seen getting out of the shower.
In Season One, episode 11, Peggy disappeared to have her baby and put it up for adoption. But her coworkers whispered that she was at a fat farm. And when she came back nice and slim, no one was the wiser.
But Betty's weight gain is more disturbing, given the character's history -- being admittedly chubby as a child and having her food policed by her mother. She later became a fashion model, a profession which demands a slender frame and lettuce-leaf lunches.
Betty's sense of shame over her own weight gain (unwilling to be seen in public or appear naked in front of her husband) is understandable. But what doesn't make sense is why her weight gain didn't happen when she was unhappily married to Mr. Distant himself, Don Draper. Maybe her emotional eating also has something to do with his slender, sexy younger wife, Megan Draper (Jessica Pare). We have yet to see these two characters confront each other.
What will be interesting is to see how Betty copes with the weight gain -- and loss -- in the next episodes. Thankfully, Betty's increased size was not due to a tumor, as we learned Sunday. But then we saw her secretly finishing off her daughter’s ice cream sundae and can't help but worry what’s coming next. Perhaps she will develop a reliance on what the Rolling Stones called "Mother’s Little Helpers," pills that were routinely prescribed for women in the '60s and '70s.
As the song goes: "And although she’s not really ill/ there’s a little yellow pill/ she goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper/ and it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day."
In real life, Jones -- who did not gain much weight during her pregnancy -- gave birth in September 2011 and snapped back in shape, crediting unconventional recovery methods including ingesting her own placenta. Before you go "eww," Jones vouches for the holistic practice and insists women should try it.
"It's not witch-crafty or anything. It's something I was very hesitant about," she told People. "But we're only the only mammals who don't ingest our own placentas.” Jones ingested the lining of her own uterus in a more modern way: pill form. Her doula (labor coach) had her placenta dehydrated and made into vitamins.
Placentas aside, tell us: What do you think about Betty Draper's weight gain?