intro: You may have noticed them on "Mad Men," starring in their own sitcoms, or rocking the red carpet at the American Music Awards: curvy women, from Christina Aguilera to Christina Hendricks, are raising their profile in Hollywood.
But according to America's first plus-sized supermodel, Emme Aronson, the rise of full-figured women is more about their talent than their curves.
"The actresses don't want to say, 'I'm curvy,'" Aronson told ABCNews.com. "These actresses want to shout, 'I'm talented.' If they continue doing their incredible work, they're in it to win it."
Still, there's been a shift. Take Aguilera and Lady Gaga, who recently gained weight and aren't trying to hide it.
"They're bragging about it. Attitude changes everything," Merle Ginsberg, a senior writer at The Hollywood Reporter, told ABCNews.com. "Beyonce and Rihanna are not reed thin, but they are wildly sexy. I think multi-culturalism has affected this and it all trickles down from television and media."
Aronson believes that for this trend to continue, curvy women need to score more substantial parts, like Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling's roles as star and creator on their TV series, "Girls" and "The Mindy Show."
"We need to see good parts, well-written scripts that's not always the Melissa McCarthy being a fat girl," she said.
The trend on screen reflects what's happening in the real world. The average weight of an American woman over the age of 20 is 166 pounds, according to the CDC. The average size waist is 37.5 inches, which corresponds to a size 16 to 18.
Magazines such as Seventeen and Glamour have already started showing diverse women of all sizes along with female empowering articles. For its November issue, Cosmopolitan Australia featured plus-size model Robyn Lawley in a swimwear photo shoot.
"These women are particularly bold," Ginsberg said. "They've probably, without knowing it, reinvented sexiness in America and with the help of ladies like Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey, brought back the 1950's bombshell."
Click through to see which leading ladies are breaking the mold:
quicklist: 1 title: Christina Aguilera text: Christina Aguilera struggled to stay thin during her "Genie in a Bottle" days, but recently the singer has been showing off a curvier figure and she's proud of it.
"Actually, the challenge I've always had is being too thin, so I love that now I have a booty, and obviously I love showing my cleavage," the 31-year-old singer told Lucky magazine in October.
The "Your Body" singer offered advice for other curvy women: "Hey, if you can work it and you can own it, that confidence is going to shine through."
Critics have slammed Aguilera's fuller figure but her fellow "The Voice" judge, Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine, stood up for the singer during a press event in New York City Oct. 26. Levine, 33, said people should "grow up" instead of criticizing Aguilera's weight.
"The one thing about the culture right now—celebrity culture particularly—that is so ugly is [that] people feel like they can just say nasty things about other people…she gets a lot of it," Levine said, according to E! News. "It pisses me off. Of course I have her back, of course I defend her." media: 17933614
quicklist: 2 title: Lena Dunham text: With a hit HBO show and a naked appearance at the Emmys, Lena Dunham's had a pretty high profile year. While she's been in the spotlight, many have focused as much attention on her weight as they have on her talent in "Girls," which she created and stars in. When the 26-year-old sported short shorts to an event, fashion critics slammed the young star.
"OK, Lena Dunham, you resent the constraints clothing imposes. We get it! We applaud you. Now please, put some pants on," a post on Salon.com said after the event.
But Dunham fired back.
"I don't think a girl with tiny thighs would have received such no-pants attention," Dunham said at a New Yorker Festival appearance, according to the New York Post. "I think what it really was ...'Why did you all make us look at your thighs?' My response is, get used to it because I am going to live to be 100, and I am going to show my thighs every day till I die."
And if haters want to hate, she doesn't care.
"If I was directing this much vitriol at people who hadn't like committed a war crime, I don't know how I'd sleep," Dunham told Esquire magazine last month. "Sometimes I think, 'Boys were mean to me in high school, so I can take whatever.' Of course that doesn't mean you can handle five thousand commenters saying you're fat, but it does prepare you for feeling like a weirdo." media: 17933235
quicklist: 3 title: Melissa McCarthy text: Melissa McCarthy may star as one-half of a plus-sized couple who meet at an Overeaters' Anonymous meeting, but in real life, the actress doesn't worry too much about her weight. She's too busy winning awards for her role in "Mike & Molly" and working on her plus-size clothing line.
"I am weirdly healthy, so I don't beat myself up about it – it wouldn't help, and I don't want to pass that on to my girls," she told Good Housekeeping magazine in November.
The 42-year-old mother of two said she worries about people who take the weight issue too far.
"Pretty much everyone I know, no matter what size, is trying some system," she said. "Even when someone gets to looking like she should be so proud of herself, instead she's like, 'I could be another three pounds less; I could be a little taller and have bigger lips.' Where does it end?" media: 17933387
quicklist: 4 title: Mindy Kaling text: Mindy Kaling has become the girl crush of the moment thanks to "The Mindy Project." On the show, Kaling's character is told by a male co-worker that she needs to lose 15 pounds. But as the writer of the Fox sitcom, Kaling, 33, gets to call all the shots.
"I consider myself a feminist, and all my friends think of themselves as feminists. We don't want to see stories where the women are skinny," Kaling told USA Today in October. "But as a writer, I don't want to not mention this. Every woman I know has issues with eating or with food. It's not just celebrities or female actors. It's almost everyone I know."
Kaling, who got her start on "The Office," is a self-proclaimed "chubby" and isn't afraid to hide the fact that she wears Spanx.
"Since I am not model-skinny, but also not super-fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous, 'Normal American Woman Size' that legions of fashion stylists detest," Kaling wrote in her book "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)." "For the record, I'm a size 8 (this week, anyway)." media: 17933528
quicklist: 5 title: Jessica Simpson text: Even before Jessica Simpson became pregnant with her first child, critics were slamming the singer-turned-fashion designer's weight. But since giving birth in May, and signing on as Weight Watchers' spokesperson, Simpson has been pressured to drop pounds.
Simpson, 32, admitted in September that she didn't realize all the weight wouldn't come off with the baby. But while many are wondering when she'll be back to her pre-baby body, Simpson is busy running her massive fashion empire and enjoying her new baby girl, Maxwell Drew.
"I'm not a supermodel. My body is not bouncing back like a supermodel," she told USA Today. "I'm just your everyday woman who is trying to feel good and be healthy for her daughter, her fiancé and herself."
In her latest Weight Watchers ad, Simpson says she's at peace with the fact that she's not perfect: "I love food, I love life, and I had no idea I could be so in control and so free at the same time." media: 17933278
quicklist: 5 title: Christina Hendricks text: Christina Hendricks instantly caught the eye of fans around the world when she debuted on "Mad Men" in 2007. Since the show began, the actress has constantly been asked about her curvaceous figure. She insists that everyone should embrace their body type.
"If there's anything to be learned from me, it's that I'm learning to celebrate what I was born with, even though it's sometimes been inconvenient," Hendricks told the Daily Mail in May 2011. "Having larger breasts has made it harder for me to shop throughout the years, but I've learned to love it. It's so bizarre that people are constantly asking if my breasts are real or fake."
But she doesn't want to be called "full-figured." A fashion editor for Sydney's Sun-Herald called the actress "full-figured" twice during a taped interview, causing Hendricks to laugh uncomfortably and avoid the question. Off camera, the 37-year-old actress said, "I think calling me full-figured is just rude," Us Weekly reported. media: 17933511
quicklist: 6 title: Khloe Kardashian Odom text: Khloe Kardashian Odom's weight has landed her on the cover of countless tabloids. Critics have slammed the reality star for her fluctuating weight, often speculating she could be pregnant. But one of Kardashian's biggest critics has been her mother, Kris Jenner, who has often addressed her daughter's weight on their show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."
But Kardashian is ok with her mom's comments because, well, she's her mom.
"Listen, my mom believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. But she is also our manager and trying to protect our brand," Kardashian told Cosmopolitan in May, via Us Weekly. "She'll say, 'Oh, you're a little too fat right now.' If she were just my manager, I'd have fired her right then. You can't talk to me like that."
She's embraced her curvy figure thanks to her husband, Los Angeles Clippers player Lamar Odom.
"Lamar tells me he loves my body and I'm beautiful multiple times a day," Kardashian told Us Weekly in 2011. "I've never had that before: someone saying, 'Without makeup, without clothes, you're stunning.' He loves my body and loves that womanly shape." media: 17933473
quicklist: 7 title: Rebel Wilson text: Rebel Wilson made fans laugh out loud as Kristin Wiig's roommate in "Bridesmaids," and she's since scored a number of high profile roles. Things weren't always that way. The Australian actress has said she struggled to break into the business because of her weight, while many of her "glamorous friends" booked jobs.
"I was really pissed off," Wilson told the Los Angeles Times in October. "Don't they see I'm talented? Don't they see that I'm funny and interesting? But of course nobody did."
In Wilson's latest film, "Pitch Perfect," she plays "Fat Amy" who pokes fun at thin girls and embraces her curvier size. Lest you fear she's being exploited, the 26-year-old actress says she loves to play with her weight.
"In comedy, you've got to use what you've got," Wilson told Reuters. "I'm not a size two, so of course I'm going to use that physicality to my advantage." media: 17933441
quicklist: 8 title: Lady Gaga text: Lady Gaga made headlines earlier this year after photos of her Amsterdam concert showed her looking larger than she has in the past. The pop star told radio host Elvis Duran that she had gained "like 25 pounds" and was dieting but noted, "I really don't feel bad about it, not even for a second."
When critics still slammed her figure, the "Born This Way" decided to fire back and empower her fans. On her social networking site, LittleMonsters.com, Gaga launched a Body Revolution section to "inspire bravery" and "celebrate with us your 'perceived flaws.'" She also posted a picture of herself, eyes closed, wearing a bra and panties, with the caption: "Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15." She's encouraging her fans to do the same.
"Hey Guys its Gaga," she wrote on her site. "Now that the body revolution has begun, be brave and post a photo of you that celebrates your triumph over insecurities." media: 17936048
quicklist: 9 title: Mariah Carey text: Gossip blogs and tabloids have slammed Mariah Carey for her weight throughout her career. In 2005, the singer got flack for her performance at New York's Fourth of July celebration in which Carey appeared to have painted on abs.
When Carey gained 70 pounds while she was pregnant with her twins, Moroccan and Monroe, the new "American Idol" judge was strict with diet and exercise to drop the pounds. But no matter what her weight is, the singer is adamant about one thing.
"I never weighed myself," she told Rosie O'Donnell on OWN's "The Rosie Show" in November 2011. "People will think I'm a liar but it's true. This is another cliché phrase, I'm a big boned girl … I'm tall and so I always weigh more.
"I would tend to go, 'Does this size dress fit me that I wore three years ago? I'm good, let's go.' I would go by what it looked like, how I felt." media: 17933334