As I've mentioned before, specifically in my "Holy hypocrisy" post, women in Hollywood are held to totally different standards than men. We require female celebrities to look buff and perfect well into their sixties—have you seen that new Boniva commercial with 64-year-old Sally Field lifting weights like a thirty-year-old?—but their male counterparts are allowed to age naturally and still get work, as best demonstrated by the recent resurgence of an undeniably overweight Alec Baldwin.
We can do our best to fight this problem by talking about it and "voting with our dollars," by spending money on movies, books, and music that feature regular-looking women. But, at some point, it's up to the media to change what we demand of women.
And that's why I was so glad to read film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum's recent article about Nicole Kidman's face in Entertainment Weekly.
Yes, I said Nicole Kidman's face.
Because her face is such a source of controversy that Schwarzbaum felt like she had to write an entire article defending it. As Schwarzbaum says, "A constant awareness of Kidman's visage . . . has, after all, become an unavoidable topic of conversation."
Unfortunately, that visage has gotten to be a more important topic than Kidman's skills as an actress. It's impossible for one of her movies to come out and not hear about the lack of emotion in her face. "The cosmetic alterations Kidman seems to have chosen," Schwarzbaum explains, "have for years become uncomfortably entwined with the assessment of her talents."
Thankfully, Schwarzbaum also insists it's time to change the conversation.
"Anyhow, enough, okay?" she insists. "Let's talk about something else."
I couldn't agree more. How does it help the rest of us feel good about ourselves if we are constantly attacking women like Kidman?
Yes, I know that plastic surgery is a BIG part of the problem—after all, how can we ever be happy with the way we look when all of the women in the media are botoxed and stitched to within an inch of their lives?
But I also agree with Schwarzbaum that it isn't doing us any good to constantly criticize Kidman's ageless face. As she asserts, "any woman knows what it feels like to work with or against her own aging process in a culture addicted to exaggerated characteristics of youthful female sexuality."
And isn't that the truth?
Isn't it true that we know exactly what it's like to live in a society that wants us all to have perky breasts, sculpted thighs, and smooth foreheads no matter how old we are?
We certainly do, so it's hard to blame Kidman for giving into a pressure we each understand all too well. As Schwarzbaum admits, "movie stars Have Had Work Done since the dawn of hair dye and nose jobs. . . that includes men as well as women," so it doesn't make much sense to go after Kidman for caving to that pressure.
At the same time, we also need to send the message that we would prefer our female celebrities did NOT cave to that pressure. As Schwarzbaum says, "Show us your flaws, Nic!"
And I couldn't agree more.
Show us your flaws, Nic. Show us the Nicole Kidman we fell in love with back in the eighties—the one with kinky red curls and slightly chubby cheeks, the one who by now should have crow's feet and lines around her mouth. For the love of God, please show us.