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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » Double Standard for Beauty in Movies

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Author Topic: Double Standard for Beauty in Movies
EVivian
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I found this article rather interesting:http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/12/ whats-the-big-***-deal/

She addresses the double standard of beauty in our culture and something that's particularly bothered me for a while: The idea that women should always be stunning and gorgeous, but looks aren't nearly as important for me. Actresses are very rarely anything but beautiful, yet many actors are of more "average" appearance.

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Ecofem
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Interesting topic, EVivian!

I read the article from Canadian-Greek actress Nia Vardalos and have some various thoughts, both on the question you raised as well as other stuff I noticed while reading.

I personally don't find Hollywood actors OR actresses that attractive because they look a little too polished and airbrushed to me. I think many of them, including the women, are actually quite normal-looking in real life... they just have extensive styling teams.

I see where you're coming from though on how the double standards and agree. However, I see her somewhat objectify male attractiveness in that article. She writes about how
write that she was happy with how she looked before (like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) but then I see her diss male actors for being unattractive. I don't think it's very kind to say "visual of Seth Rogan on top of Katherine Heigl made me put the popcorn down and reach for my purse" when she herself is doing exactly what she dislikes in others. (While I didn't find Seth Rogan's personality attractive in that film, I found his appearance to be just fine and don't understand the big deal.) Then I see this post of hers on her Twitter account: "Doing Q and A @ Arclight Hollywood at 9 pm. Bringing hot costar Alexi G."

I think the big issue I have with all this is that while she's complaining that women are held to a double-standard (correct), I'm not convinced of her argument because she goes on to criticize men's appearance with so many concrete examples.

I wonder if this has a lot to do with ethnicity as much as gender. I think to the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where she's attending community college and *so* happy to finally have a Wonderbread sandwich for lunch and feel welcomed by the WASPy women. I took issue with that scene because while I was happy she was happy, it looked as if people were only accepting her for aspiring to the so-called white mainstream values when they could have been just as accepting of a tasty Greek-American lunch.

I think the same could be said of appearance. It's easy for me to say I reject mainstream beauty standards and can't understand why, say, a Greek-American woman like her would aspire to a Barbie nose because, well, while I'm no model (although that's a lot about illusions there, too) I fulfill them by default. (I think she was attractive before and after her weight loss and would love to have a nose like hers!)

In any case, I agree with your point about the double-standard for Hollywood beauty in men and women. However, when I read the article, I also see a lot of things at play.

[ 06-12-2009, 10:12 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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orca
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Hey, EVivian, that link you gave was broken. Do you mind reposting it? Thanks!

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Ecofem
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[Here you go, orca! [Smile] ]

Ahh, I see ST edits the a-word for behind out. So if you click on the link and replace the *** with A-S-S (minus the hyphens), you should be set! I wish there were an easier way but hopefully that works.

[ 06-12-2009, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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Onionpie
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Ecofem: You said 'I don't think it's very kind to say "visual of Seth Rogan on top of Katherine Heigl made me put the popcorn down and reach for my purse" when she herself is doing exactly what she dislikes in others.'

But she then says it's not out of grossness. so I think by that statement she's not criticizing Seth Rogan and saying he's ugly; it's more that she's merely pointing out that he's average-looking and katherine heigl is gorgeous, and while people had been saying that average-looking women wouldn't get attractive guys, no one complained about average-looking seth getting attractive katherine in Knocked Up.

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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by Onionpie:
But she then says it's not out of grossness. so I think by that statement she's not criticizing Seth Rogan and saying he's ugly; it's more that she's merely pointing out that he's average-looking and katherine heigl is gorgeous, and while people had been saying that average-looking women wouldn't get attractive guys, no one complained about average-looking seth getting attractive katherine in Knocked Up.

Hey! I get what you've saying about audiences not seeming to mind when the "average"-looking men with "attractive" women. However, what I'm saying about all this is that Nia may dislike the Hollywood double-standard, I hear her there. Yet instead of rejecting the whole mainstream beauty ideals, she is calling for more "hot" male leads. It may not be as clear in that article, but I saw it again and again in other interviews and articles with her. I find that quite off-putting because I'd like to look *beyond* the whole "hot or not" spectrum.

There's no one beauty ideal (I think of how being tan is often a beauty ideal in many "Western" nations, based on the self-tanners available and tanning salons around town in countries such as the US and Germany. However, you find whitening creams sold in many Asian countries such as Thailand. Both practices are dangerous and would best be rejected, just as I'd prefer for the whole Hollywood beauty standard be abandoned versus demanding so-called hot actors and then calling it achieved equality. I also think of various feminist goals of, for example, achieving equality with men versus rejecting "male" standards of success.

That said, I don't really find *any* Hollywood actors or actresses to be that attractive to me. I actually find Nia Vardalos' appearance to be very intriguing whereas I find Katherine Heigl bland and unappealing. So that's where I'm coming from on this. [Smile]

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orca
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This reminds me of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, which explores all of these ideas and more in a nice amount of detail. To be honest, I really didn't care for the Nia Vardalos piece and didn't feel it contributed much to the discussion of the beauty ideal present in mainstream Western culture. It wandered a bit and was rather unfocused. To me, it felt like the whole point of it was to say "Come see my movie!" But maybe I'm just not seeing something. I've not read any interviews with her or anything else she's written (though I glanced at her Twitter thing), so I don't know what else she's said on the topic.

I'll second Lena that I don't find most of the Hollywood actors or actresses to be so incredible looking. I think the actresses and actors from the 30s, 40s, and 50s were very beautiful (Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Rock Hudson, just to name the most famous, though even the lesser-known ones tended to be stunning). They seemed to have a sort of ethereal quality to their handsomeness, something which most of the celebrities today just don't seem to have (to borrow Lena's adjectives, bland and unappealing come to mind for most of them, though there are a few I consider to be quite pretty). Maybe it was the black-and-white, though. [Razz]

But I'm only one person, and obviously the movie stars today are extremely beautiful to some people, like their fans. There are a lot of different ideas of beauty, none of which should be placed above another because it all comes down to personal taste. When we look at movie stars, perhaps we shouldn't be focusing so much on their physical appearance or physical attractiveness, but on their acting abilities, their ability to make themselves seem very attractive (or sometimes very UNattractive or downright creepy) to a number of people through their acting skills.

On a related note, yesterday I was browsing through DVDs at a store when I came across one with Penelope Cruz (who I do find to be very attractive) called Elegy. The description from the DVD:
quote:
Respected cultural critic and author David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley) is a middle-aged college professor who, for years, has lived in a state of "emancipated manhood." His romantic conquests are many; his lasting commitments, few. But when a stunning young student named Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz) enters his life, her otherworldly beauty captivates him to the point of obsession. Soon, their erotic relationship evolves into an undying and passionate love in this gripping drama that explores the power of love to blind, reveal and transform.
I always have to laugh/snort with derision when a plot contains a woman possessing "otherworldly beauty." It just seems so ridiculous. Sure, when you are attracted to someone you may perceive their physical appearance to be extraordinary, but the way these things are often portrayed and phrased, it gives the impression that the person would be undeniably and breath-takingly beautiful to anyone who saw them. (As an aside, isn't it strange how many movies or plays there are about older (often aging) male professors and female students? And isn't it also odd that they tend to be literature or english professors? I really wonder who the hell is writing all of these, aside from David Mamut and William Russell.)

[ 06-13-2009, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: orca ]

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Jill2000Plus
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It's 'cause the literature professors are all sensitive and poetic souls surrounded by unthinking plebs, wistfully clutching their well thumbed copies of Lolita.

I've never understood the whole otherworldly beauty thing either, I'd quite like to see (in the "you'd have to be a pretty huge douchebag to write that" sense) a story that explores the concept of otherworldly ugliness in such "poetic" terms. You don't really get that many stories that centre around someone's very appearance being so supposedly objectively repulsive that others run screaming from them. It's such a nonsensical view of love.

The Beauty Myth is indeed excellent reading, one of the best explorations of the subject I've come across, though I was wondering why there's a link to a different book that claims that beauty is biological and objective on Scarleteen's website, as I would guess that the site's general policy is against such bullcrap (I sure hope so, because on the long list of stuff I come here for refuge from is "smug comments from pseudo-scientists on why my body fat means I will never attract a man and have adorably symmetrical babies thus making me a useless eater... whoops I meant to type at an evolutionary disadvantage, but I guess I'm just saying the most random irrelevant things today!") Seriously, evolutionary theory is indeed theory and not hypothesis, but all that stuff about what everyone objectively finds attractive is completely unfounded, even the waist-hip ratio thing probably doesn't apply to everyone, I think it's a little dubious as not everyone has the most accurate mental measurement estimating abilities and I find the notion that they would have specifically evolved to calculate this one thing and not generally a little suspect. Plenty of women give birth to healthy babies, even the most strong and fertile of women is going to be at a huge disadvantage without a support network. Plus I get pissed off at those studies that bang on about intelligence, how do they measure and define intelligence?

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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