Pictured left to right: A.J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness and Thomas from CRIMINAL MINDS. Photo: Matt Kennedy/CBS ©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Right Reserved.

Pictured left to right: A.J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness and Thomas from CRIMINAL MINDS. Photo: Matt Kennedy/CBS ©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Right Reserved.

Kirsten Vangsness, who stars as Penelope Garcia on both Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior is redefining beauty on TV. The actress, though pretty, is a full-figured woman, which is certainly more relatable for most female viewers.

“I’m happy with however people look at that image,” Vangsness acknowledges. “If that makes them feel good I am so happy. I love it when I can do that with an actress and go, ‘I love that.’ That makes me feel good about me. I love that.”

Pictured left to right: Kirsten Vangsness and Forest Whitaker from CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR. Photo: ADAM TAYLOR/ABC. ©2010 ABC STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.

Pictured left to right: Kirsten Vangsness and Forest Whitaker from CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR. Photo: ADAM TAYLOR/ABC. ©2010 ABC STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.

And those quirky looks that Garcia has – from blonde to red back to blonde locks again – as well as those colorful outfits – are pretty much all courtesy of Vangsness, who enjoys a splashy look herself.

“I think that since I made her…with the help of the writers, they’ve let me collaborate constantly,” she insists. “[Executive Producer] Ed [Bernero] has always said ‘If they’re the knights of the roundtable, then Garcia is Merlin.’ You don’t mess with Merlin. If Merlin wants to put a blue streak in her hair, Merlin puts a blue streak in her hair. So, I colored it red and then I got bored with the red. Then I wore a blonde wig one day and I was like, ‘I remember, I like this.’ Then I go back to blonde. I think that’s what makes her a superhero, is unlike Kirsten, when Penelope dyes her hair it doesn’t go through extensive damage and breakage. Penelope just looks awesome because I have a team that makes it look like it’s all great.”

Click onto the media bars for:

Why Vangsness is pleased TV viewers can relate to her.


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How Vangsness developed the character’s fashion style.


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Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays, 9:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.