Hollywood cinema has always portrayed the lives and struggles of characters coming to terms with their own realities. However, the actors, commonly referred to as “the beautiful people,” playing these roles never seem to have any issues at all.
Movie after movie, year after year, gorgeous actresses undertake to play parts while the whole world watches in awe, wanting to emulate every aspect of the starlets, but how realistic are the standards being put forward by the media?
“Women’s bodies for a long time have been separated from women’s lives,” Jess Weiner, author and a specialist of self-esteem issues, told Alabama’s TimesDaily last week. “We’re used to seeing women’s bodies pulled apart and hyper-airbrushed so as to look like mechanized, robotic images of a woman’s body.”
The question of body image always surfaces as young girls flip through magazines, turn on their favorite TV show, pop in their favorite movie and envision how wonderful it must be to look like a famous actress. Their flawless faces, silky hair, designer clothes but most importantly their stunning bodies jump off the screen and burn the minds of women everywhere.
“Every time I open a magazine I always feel pressure to be stick-thin like the actresses photographed,” Sarah Greenberg, a sophomore psychology major, said. “However, their appearances are always seemingly unrealistic.”
More recently, however, Hollywood has taken notice to the more realistic body types in the world and decided to go for actresses who don’t need to change in order to fit the part. Coming from the likes of Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ film “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” out this month, centers around Precious, an overweight African American girl growing up in Harlem, now pregnant with her second child.
She is illiterate and seemingly invisible with an abusive mother and a father who raped her, but has been given the chance to show her voice when she is invited to attend an alternative school in hopes that her life will take on a new direction.
For this movie, casting didn’t go the normal route of taking a beautiful black actress and turning her “ugly,” but rather Hollywood found a real woman to play this devastating part.
Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe is a rather unknown actress whom the makers of this movie have taken a chance on, making many wonder if this is a step in a new direction for Hollywood. Is the world ready to accept movie stars that aren’t, by normal standards, perfect?
Alexa Klorman, the national campus director of “Smart is Cool,” a new organization on campus that plans to redefine what is beautiful in this country by showing young girls that intelligence and skills are what really make someone cool, thinks the world is ready for this change.
“In recent decades, the main role models for girls have been young women in the media who take pride in flaunting their bodies, but I think that we are about to see a climate change in this country in regards to this trend. With the recent films like ‘Precious,’ beautiful women are being redefined, and what it takes to be a star is steadily changing,” Klorman explained.
This isn’t the first time Hollywood has gone in this direction.
The 2007 film “Hairspray” took the iconic character of Tracy Turnblad and introduced Nikki Blonsky, another unknown actress who fit the part as well as she could play it, earning her a Golden Globe nomination in the process.
Although it seems Hollywood is making changes to portray the realistic body types of the world, many are still reluctant to think it’s going to change for good. It seems too many big-time movie executives are much more comfortable taking a beautiful actress like Renee Zellweger and fattening her up to play the lovable Bridget Jones.
The same can never be said for men today, where movies that have grossed the highest earnings star actors such as Seth Rogen and Vince Vaughn.
Actors without the everyday six-packs and Brad Pitt-faces are suddenly some of the hottest men in Hollywood, sending out the message that it’s cool not to be perfect, living awesome lives and getting with Hollywood’s sexiest women.
In today’s society, there is constant pressure to be thin and beautiful and it appears most of that pressure comes from Hollywood and the media. It is a dangerous message that although it looks like Hollywood is trying to do something about, it hasn’t quite gotten a handle on the situation yet.