I was thinking today about how our culture’s single, rigid, photo shop standard of beauty hurts everyone when I ran across an article talking about how actresses are to blame for all of this. I think that in many ways actresses are really hurt by the beauty ideal, and by the society that creates it.
First of all, actresses are under tremendous pressure to meet the stereotypical ideal of beauty. I imagine that many would rather be able to spend their time improving their acting and being professional actors, than professional very thin women who appear to never age.
Society insists that they look like their photoshopped images to avoid public shame, vitriol, and humiliation, and then shames them for the things that they do to accomplish that.
In order to be an actress in this day and age, these women know that at any moment they could be photographed for some spread about the worst celebrity bodies, who wore it better, celebrities without makeup, celebrities in bikinis, I even saw one the other day about celebrities with the worst feet complete with glamorous photoshopped headshots next to close-ups of unphotoshopped feet.
We can’t have an award ceremony without spending the next two weeks absolutely trashing those who attended for their dress, hair, shoes, makeup purse whatever. Can you imagine if you won the highest award possible for your job and you knew that going to get it meant putting yourself up for massive public ridicule.
Magazines don’t publish these types of articles for fun. They publish them because we click on them – in droves. We put actresses up on a pedestal, we insist that they meet an impossible standard of beauty, then we tear them down for not meeting it to make ourselves feel better because we can’t meet it either.
Meanwhile the beauty industry laughs itself all the way to the bank as, at our insistence, the actresses perpetuate a standard of beauty that is unattainable for almost everyone, which doesn’t stop millions of people from spending a lot of their lives and their money trying to attain it anyway.
Maybe the money and the fame make it worth it for the actresses, maybe they are willing to put up with it to do something that they truly love. For me, it doesn’t really matter because I think that this hurts us all and I think it’s time to try something else.
There is lots of activism that we can do around this. Simple things like refusing to click on all of those worst body, worst dressed, who looks better in this dress, actresses with the ugliest pinky finger blah blah blah articles. Cancelling beauty magazine subscriptions and letting them know that you won’t be resubscribing until they stop contributing to body hatred, low self-esteem, and fat phobia. We can support actresses who are being criticized for not meeting the beauty ideal for whatever reason – we can support them in comments, social media etc. Ban the phrase “can you believe she’s wearing that!” because even if we don’t like someone’s outfit, surely we have something more interesting to talk about that doesn’t involve talking badly about someone else.
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