Beyond Babedom

We're (way) over 40. Deal with it.

The Girls with the Ugly Tattoos

I went to see “The Help” the other night and was a little disappointed. The movie did follow the book (which I really liked) very closely, and it was – mostly – very satisfying. However, one thing really bothered me: the main character, Skeeter, who was supposed to be tall and gangly and unattractive was . . . Emma Stone! Now, really, Emma Stone? Unattractive?

Even the author, Kathryn Stockett could only say, “She’s so lanky, she’s all leg. I was really glad they were able to find somebody who had the height.” The height? That’s the reason she never had a date?

This isn’t the only time we see Hollywood (and every other entertainment venue) replacing¬† a normal woman with an uber woman. Show me one leading lady (other than Whoppie Goldberg) who isn’t stunning. I challenge you. Oh, sure, you may be able to find one or two obscure examples. But for the most part, girls and women in movies and on TV are all idealized versions of male wet dreams. No wonder anorexia, breast enhancement and plastic surgery for teens is so prevalent. Girls today all feel inadequate – even the super models. Their pictures are so PhotoShopped they know they can’t live up to their public images. Of course, it’s worse for we women over 40. Have you ever seen a woman over 40 portrayed realistically and not played by either a 30 year old – or a woman who looks like a senior citizen?

Which is one of the reasons why I really loved the whole Stieg Larsson series (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, etc.). Not only are the men very mediocre looking, but so are the women. They actually look like you’d picture them. Why is it that Europeans – who can also be some of the most misogynistic – aren’t adverse to using normal-looking women? Is it the water? (The wine?) Or do they actually appreciate women – as they are – more than American men?

Either way, I’m seriously considering Gary’s suggestion that we move to Paris. . .

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 at 1:27 PM and is filed under Social Issues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. Marie Mills says:

    I agree I’m always telling my daughters that looks are not everything but they are bombarded with images that are not realistic.

  2. David says:

    Hasn’t this always been the case in movies? I watch a fair amount of movies on Turner Classic Movies, and the actresses didn’t fit the “normal” profile back in the 30s and 40s. Barbara Stanwyck may have been the exception — she probably fit the normal type more than others, but was still attractive. By the way, I watched “Jackie Brown” last night and noticed Pam Grier (47 at the time the movie was made) playing a 44 year old flight attendant. She looked great!

  3. Kirk says:

    Unless you’ve forgotten movies are mostly done and presented a’s an escape. If you want real life tune to the national geographic channel.

    • Ah, Kirk, but not necessarily in movies made outside the US. And who’s fantasy? I see plenty of fat, ugly guys getting leading roles (or just plain old as sh*t, like Clint Eastwood). Oh, and almost every movie has full frontal nudity – but only the women. Equal rights!

  4. maggie says:

    oh well, why do we acuse just teens?…”anorexia, breast enhancement and plastic surgery for teens is so prevalent.” I’ve been known to stick a finger down my throat after a fashion show, pad my bra and plastic surgery….ummmmm why not? tee hee. I was mostly disappointed that the lead had tendrils and not the “nappy frizzy hair” stressed over + over in the book. As for gorgeous actresses, perhaps you haven’t seen a Lena Wertmuller film. …( Seven Beauties?)so Gary says Paris?… I say Australia.. there they work only to live

  5. Toni says:

    This makes me so angry that I can’t even explain it. I have been feeling increasingly insecure about myself every time I watch a movie or look at a magazine. My boyfriend is a photographer and I know how much editing he does on models, but it still gets to me. No matter how much I tell myself that I am thin and pretty, my brain keeps saying “you’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough” over and over – I don’t even realize it until I get that little moment of insecurity shock. It’s pathetic, but at the same time, can we help it if it’s constantly shoved down our throats?

    Okay, movies are a form of entertainment and escape, but when a book says “girl next door, gangly girl” and the girl in the movie is gorgeous and made-up… I don’t know.. like you said.. are we ALLOWED to be normal anymore??

    This topic infuriates me. Especially seeing all the little girls that I coach wearing make up and saying “I’m fat.” GRR!!!

  6. chris munson says:

    Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s see, Christine Baranski..not a big star, but she gets a lot of work, and as interesting characters, too. Helen Mirren…A great actor, and she’s gotten a lot of roles from fluffy to deadly serious, even as Queen of England…so she has a wowser set of headlamps, but I mean, who’s looking when she’s inhabiting a character? America Ferrera started out overweight, and with so-so looks, but the Hollywood image machine gave her a makeover because she can act. And Sarah Jessica Parker, without the illusion of makeup is simply another face in the crowd. Roseanne Barr’s makeover gets her to the “normal looking” range. As for the TCM era, we have several actors who were notable stars who were less than stunning including Flora Robson, Edna Mae Oliver, Jane Darwell, and Agnes Moorhead. While I agree with the comment movies are about escapism, actors, both great and not so great, Ernest Borgnine comes to mind, need not necessarily fall by the wayside for lack of looks.

    • Ah, Chris, like me, you just love to argue. You may have been able to find a dozen or so women who aren’t absolutely breathtakingly beautiful who have actually had careers in acting, but I know you know that beauty is generally, usually, and finally one of the most important factors in an actresses career. Yes, Helen Miren gets good roles – for older women. And wasn’t she once a real beauty? On the other hand, we see Tommy Lee Jones, Clint Edwards and – yes – Ernest Bornine as the norm in the male world of acting. Clint Eastwood even cast himself in one recent movie as the love interest for a 20-something ingenue. As if.

      No, men can be old, wizened and downright ugly and still get leading roles. For women, unless they’re incredibly strong as an actress – say, a Meryl Streep – or a real character, like Whoppi or Roseanne or a Barbra, producing her own film, they are relegated to the background. But there are so few good female roles to begin with, it is just a pity that the one role in The Help that called for an unattractive female was cast with a raving beauty.

      No; no Jean Stapletons here!

      • Chris Munson says:

        Women who have grown old and succeeded in filmdom: Betty Davis, Joan Crawford, Jessica Tandy, Great Actors, even the not so great; Joan Collins, and Sally Field for instance. Smarts, flexibility, choice of roles all make a difference between the flash in the pan, “stars” like Annette Funicello, and Sandra Dee, whose works will not be long remembered, and the aforementioned. Eastwood was a hunk as a kid. Watch those episodes of “Rawhide” with Rowdy Yates; an actor learning his craft, and someone who was smart enough to get into the film making business end so he could have control, just like Barbara Striesand. Old guys,(and not a few women), like to watch Eastwood because they want to believe that old guys can still let loose the viper, and believe the snake can still bite, when in fact, I would wager Clint’s serpent can barely slither without massive doses of Viagra. It’s meaningless to posit memorable performances, and careers rest merely on looks. Orson Welles was never a glamor puss, but his work is iconic. People will still be watching Meryl Streep as long as she cares to make appearances. Helen Mirren’s first role I can recall was in “White Nights” with Baryshnikov, who was so pretty himself, I hardly noticed her performance.

      • Chris, you’ve missed my point (on purpose, I think!). Your examples of “grand dames” of movies is long past. Meryl is one of the very few exceptions. Today, in America, women have to be super gorgeous (or uber talented)to get cast. Even super models are insecure about their looks, because their pix are PhotoShopped to remove even the slightest imperfections. Ya think Clint Eastwood’s wrinkles are smoothed out or his droopy skin touched up in his pix?

        For men, it’s about the acting talent – and fitting the part. I love Tommy Lee Jones but he’s one scary looking guy; yet, he’s leading man material.

  7. Lucille says:

    Wow. Bare Escentuals may actually start changing things. An ad campaign where NO touchups will be allowed. Goodbye PhotoShop!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/02/business/media/for-bare-escentuals-pretty-isnt-good-enough.html?scp=1&sq=beauty%20mght%20not%20be%20blind&st=cse

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