Rachel McAdams’ character is supposed to be a normal woman, marrying her partner. Rachel McAdams is exceptionally beautiful, possessing all of the aesthetic qualities assosciated with conventional beauty (thinness, youthfulness, clear skin, large eyes, symmetrical features). Roseana is a real bride who possesses a more realistic depiction of beauty, where she fulfils some of the qualities of conventional beauty but not others.
In Imagine You and Me, Lena Headley and Piper Perabo play a gay couple, however they both fit the narrow beauty ideals that are common to hollywood. Mary and Julia are a real couple, and fall outside these natural ideals. They are more representative of the reality for young women.
Cinderella is perhaps the most terrifying depiction of the female character, because it’s target demographic is young children. Actress Lily James is supposed to depict a sixteen year old girl, however she was twenty six at the time of filming. Zingara is a real sixteen year old. This photograph was taken on the day of her debutante ball however she looks very different to Ella, who is also on the way to a ball. Lily James, already an extremely petite woman, wore a corset for this role, which was so tight that she could only consume liquids whilst wearing it. This demonstrates the extent to which film staff will alter an already woman to make her more beautiful on screen, intentionally making characters less and less realistic despite their undeniable influence on young women.
In, The Big Wedding, Amanda Seyfried depicts a ‘normal’ bride. However even when these two brides possess similar aesthetic qualities, the fictional character is very different to real bride, Jen. This comparison demonstrates how actresses are generally more conventionally attractive than real women even possessing the same qualities.
This comparison is different because unlike the other photo comparisons, the film, It’s Complicated, was directed by a woman. As discussed here, female directors tend to depict mature age female characters in a more beautiful and empowering way. However, this depiction is still detached from the reality for mature age women. It’s a complicated issue because it’s excellent for women to be depicted in a more empowered manner, however being detached from the reality for women causes self esteem issues.
In, Duets, Gwyneth Paltrow plays a talented young karaoke lover. Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example of the majority Hollywood celebrity actress, and possesses all the aesthetic qualities that are favoured by Hollywood but represent only a narrow portion of real women. Shannen is the lead singer of Fulton Street and demonstrates the diversity of real women.
The popular teen-targeted franchise, Hunger Games, stars Jennifer Lawrence as 17 year old, Katniss Everdeen. While this character is an excellent role model for young women, possessing qualities such as leadership, bravery and selflessness, she is still not representative of the reality for most 17 year old women. This goes to show how even strong female characters have certain standards put on them for appearances that are not representative of the diverse body and appearances of real women.
Jennifer Lopez plays a new mother in The Back Up Plan, and while it’s great to see a non-white female actress in the lead of a film, her appearance does not at all reflect the reality for new mothers. This demonstrates the complicated nature of having a female in the lead, which is excellent as it is great just to see women’s stories in popular films, but how even this is complicated and can have negative impacts on individuals.
Films in order of appearance:
Pitch Perfect, Jason Moore, 2012
The Vow, Michael Sucsy, 2012
No Strings Attached, Ivan Reitman, 2011
Imagine Me and You, Ol Parker, 2006
Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh, 2015
The Big Wedding, Justin Zackham, 2013
It’s Complicated, Nancy Meyers, 2009
Duets, Bruce Paltrow, 2000
The Hunger Games, Francis Lawrence, Gary Ross, 2012-2015
The Back Up Plan, Alan Poul, 2010