April 25, 2010

If Hollywood pushes natural look, will we get better-looking women?

Here's an NYT article on what may be a push by casting directors and filmmakers toward a less synthetic look among women, whether stars or extras. I assume this trend isn't one of those fake ones that the NYT feature writers cook up just to draw an audience and generate buzz. Those pretend to talk about national trends among common people, and they just don't have the resources to conduct all the necessary research. Even their more qualitative approaches consist mostly of interviewing their their elite social circle in the tri-state area. But those who drive Hollywood are few and geographically concentrated, and usually willing to talk about where things are going.

On the one hand, a greater emphasis on natural looks will select for those with greater natural beauty and hence better genes -- and no amount of plastic surgery can match that. Right now you can't really alter the geometry of your skull, and that's just as important as the softer features that can be tinkered with.

On the other hand, good genes are in incredibly short supply, so unless Hollywood wants only one or two actresses to play all females roles, from lead down to extras, they'll have to draw from the other group with naturally good looks -- young girls. In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh did not need any work done because they were 18 and 20 years old. Jennifer Beals didn't need a facelift to star in Flashdance because she was 19. Brooke Shields was 14 in The Blue Lagoon. Really the only older sex symbol from youth-oriented movies is Kelly LeBrock who played the Frankenbabe in Weird Science. Mature, savvy, and cool-headed, she provided a good contrast for the juvenile dorks who created her. And how old was this icon of wisdom and stoicism? -- 25.

That's what used to pass for "no longer young," whereas the NYT article says that people now find it disturbing how "young" some of the plastic surgery women are, using a 23 year-old as an example. That's hardly old, but sorry, that's not exactly young either. This mindset is what has given us an older set of sex symbols, contrary to all the whining you hear from aging women (and dickless white knight males) about the culture's obsession with youth. The culture has never been so free of adolescent and young adult influence -- everything is made for middle-aged adults (those of childrearing age and older) or pre-pubescent children.

With all this pressure of the zeitgeist bearing down on them, Hollywood is just not going to go there with young girls. So, the result will be worse-looking women in movies -- we'll get a handful of naturally beautiful ones, but without the ace-in-the-hole of plastic surgery or sheer youth, the majority of actresses aren't going to spin any heads.


  1. The market will force behavior change. The market for aging beauty queen has-beens is not endless. Once alternatives are offered, the old hag actresses pretending they're 25 year-old vixens(and not playing age appropriate roles) will be dropped faster than a primed hand grenade.

  2. Exactly Agnostic.

    Ages 15-24 are the real "prime" for females. Thats an ugly biological fact.

    Men want "babyfaced" women, with delicate beauty. Plastic-surgery generally gives women a plastic-first-generation-sexbot look. Nothing currently can give skin its elasticity and firmness back except strecthing it over bones by pulling it back (facelifts). Women think they can reshape their faces by injecting artifical substances to replace the depleted collagen in their skin, and have implants placed over certain bones while simultaneously having their facial skin "stretched back" via a facelift because plastic surgeons tell them so, but the truth is that they simply look like lesser versions of Jocelyn Wildenstein, the notorious "cat lady". Here is her picture:

    You, Agnostic, have outlined on this blog the best ways for a woman to have the most youthful skin possible (a good diet, good moisturizer with vitamin A in it). I'd add that wearing a hat when getting signifigant sun exposure and not overwashing the face (sebum, your skin oil, has vitamin E and coenzyme Q-10 in it, and is photoprotective) are probably the best natural things a woman could do to keep a youthful look as long as possible. Ive heard there are facial excercises, but dont know if there is any validity to the claims made about them.

    Until we can "get under the hood" as Roissy put it, on the cellular level, 35-to-40 year old women simply will never be able to be as beautiful as 20 year old women. I think it would be better for them to age gracefully (like Emmylou Harris) than to turn themselves into artifical-looking zombies. What Heidi Montog is doing is tragic.

    Ive heard that dermabrasion can be somewhat effective in getting skin to regenerate itself to an extent, but dont know if thats true or not. I do know one thing, the habit of some older chicks to starve themselves bone-thin makes them look pretty old facially. If they simply wore hats when out in the sun and didn't go tan it would probably cut several years on their facial ageing.

  3. "they just don't have the resources to conduct all the necessary research. Even their more qualitative approaches consist mostly of interviewing their their elite social circle in the tri-state area"

    So true.

    "Right now you can't really alter the geometry of your skull, and that's just as important as the softer features that can be tinkered with."

    ?! What are you, a phrenology fetishist?

    And I don't think geometry of skull changes with age.

    "In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates"

    Yum, yes, that was one perky skull.

  4. oh thank Goodness if this trend really is going somewhere! If I see Sara Jessica Parker in one more movie, acting more immature than a teen, I will have to gag myself.

    Here's the thing. I truly believe teens today are way more conservative than the last generation, I think we will see a resurgence of family values, anti-abortion, less divorce and more stay at home mothers, in the coming years. The thing about this generation, is that they've seen the self indulgence of their parents, the selfishness, the endlessly bad financial decisions. Most teens have had to parent themselves and hence have become more responsible via the forced maturity in the face of their parents immaturity. you ask why their is no "teen culture" today? Here's my perspective, because there are so few teens who have had the luxury of actually being in a normal family, Teenagers have become non-existent. As soon as the child becomes old enough to reasonably take care of itself the "me generation" stepped back and said, "let them figure it out, I'm too busy/i want to have fun ." Children take over the cooking and cleaning while mother is out drinking with her other "couger girlfriends" and Daddy dropped out of the picture after mom screwed his bestfriend, etc..
    I have see this situation often, even in middle to upper class families. My friends mother just left her dad for their horse trainer, and guess who gets to pick up the pieces, and explain everything to her little brother, while mom is pretending she's hot enough to be with 27yr old and dad is at the bar trying to pick up anything with two legs?
    This is part of the reason we don't see teen movies much anymore, the older generation is too consumed with trying to convince everyone that they are just as good or better than young people that they don't care to hire young actors/actresses to cater to their teens.

    Whatever. They'll be in nursing homes or dead soon anyway.


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