If male actors had to be as blandly perfect as female ones…

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1103661_blue_eyesI’m a funny one. My brain is wired weird, and sometimes it’s scary but most of the time it’s amusing. Take for example my response when asked what I, a hetereosexual woman, consider to be the ideal male physique. Most people would list about three traits, like “tall, broad shoulders, perfect teeth.” My list is… a bit longer. And don’t ask me where I get this stuff, because I just discovered in my psyche one day during my teen years, parked right next to my equally untraceable food and music preferences.

My unimaginably nitpicky criteria for the ideal male body:

Well-shaped butts, long legs, no chest hair and very little visible body hair, a certain length to the frame (a proportion I can’t describe, but I know it when I see it), a certain breadth to the shoulders (again, a very specific proportion), and the muscle tone has to be defined to a certain degree and no more but I’m not talking about the actual shape he’s in, but rather an intrinsic way his body arranges muscle and fat.

Yes, folks: the way a man’s skin, fat and muscle cling together is something that makes a difference in how attractive he is to me. Shut up. Da Vinci would’ve understood.

But a few days after I wrote that out last week and realized how hilariously specific it is, I had a truly sobering moment when I realized: my weird ideal for the male body is less specific than the US’s base requirements for a supporting or lead actress. Women who don’t meet those requirements get shuffled into “character acting.” A successful character actor is one of those familiar faces that’s been on all the big TV shows (and probably gets more interesting roles than lead and supporting actors), but you don’t know her name. Actresses are advised by agents whether their looks qualify them to pursue lead and supporting roles or doom them to “character actor” status.

The criteria for a lead or supporting actress runs something like this (at the moment – it changes every decade).

US Film & TV base requirements for lead/supporting actresses

(You can lack perhaps one to three of these traits, but you must feature the vast majority to get work in the US.)

  • Underweight.
  • White.
  • Fleshy, pouty lips. If she’s serious about an acting career, she’ll get the collagen shots. (Oh, by the way, rumor has it: pouty lips are out, cheek implants are in. Actress wannabes are advised to see their cosmetic surgeons for complete details on sucking out the collagen and stuffing the cheeks until you look you have three noses. Mmm, sexy.)
  • Long legs.
  • Look 30 or younger. (There will be 5 roles reserved in every generation for women who look grown up. Good luck landing them, ladies.)
  • Several inches taller than the average woman (average height is just under 5’4″ – most actresses are at least 5’6″).
  • Medium to largish breasts. (They don’t want her to look like a porn star, but if she’s serious about an acting career, she’ll get those A-cups bumped up to at least a full B.)
  • No big noses.
  • No noses with bumps. (You can maybe get a part on a nine year old ailing Sci-Fi channel show with an imperfect nose, but you will not be deluged with offers from Hollywood.)
  • No chins which seem long or short in proportion to the rest of the face (unless you’re a Barrymore or a Spelling, in which case the rules don’t apply to you, sweetie, and can we get you something else, anything else, and please remember us to your folks!).
  • Perfect teeth.
  • Big eyes. (Jennifer Garner is the only exception, and look how she’s got the puffy lips and all the other traits right down.)
  • Long, glossy hair.
  • No visible body hair (not that this isn’t an expectation for women outside of acting, too).
  • Curvy, female butts are in right now. They weren’t 10 years ago. Enjoy the whiplash from trying to keep up.

Acting talent is optional. Conversely:

US Film & TV base requirements for potential lead actor:

  • White.
  • Perfect teeth.

Failing to nail either of these will slow a man’s acting career down considerably, but hallelujah, thanks to dentistry, at least the field’s wide open to white guys of every description.

Do you see the problem?

Among supporting and lead male actors we have a few truly fat men and a lot of chubby guys and a lot of guys who look slim in a suit but have a little extra padding around the middle. None of these guys would have the careers they have if we applied the same standards to male and female actors. We have guys with lovely glossy hair and guys with shaved heads or various stages of balding. We have guys with big noses and weak chins. Short guys like Tom Cruise. Guys with overhanging brows. Beady eyes.

I mean, if we bumped male requirements up to something as specific as the requirements for women, the US film and TV industry would lose all its leading men overnight (just “underweight” wipes out the whole brigade, though I’m sure some of them would be willing to starve if their careers were on the line). And wouldn’t that be a pity for all those people, including me, who find quite a few American lead actors attractive despite their “flaws”? Or because of them?

How does this shit happen?

This is all a by-product of a sexist culture, but the specific mechanism that takes place is this: when industry people look at a male actor, they see and evaluate the whole man as a total package of talent, physicality, and charisma. When they look at a female actor, they see parts. They see boobies and puffy lips and butts and legs and height and hair and eyes. If they don’t see the parts they’re looking for, they write her off. In short, they can’t see the forest for the T&A.

And don’t forget the casting couch. Women weren’t allowed to act in Shakespeare’s day, so female actors have really been fighting for inclusion for five centuries, and a lot of people in the early days of film and TV didn’t let women forget that. If women wanted roles, they could damn well go the extra mile to get them, and that meant giving someone sexual favors. And now that demanding sexual favors for roles is less common than it used to be, the attitude remains the same: those uppity females need to work harder than a man, if they want a role from me. Since acting is a subjectively measured craft, the only objective requirements men who hate women can force on them are visual. Film is the perfect place for this brand of misogyny because it’s one of the last industries where you can turn someone down for not looking a certain way.

Ever since men were oh-so-kind enough to let women have jobs as an alternative to sexually gratifying men in order to be provided for, women have been struggling with extra tough requirements. Look at the airlines, who as recently as 1982 were requiring women flight attendants to be skinnier than men. It’s all about white men seeing the world as something they own exclusive rights to, and if others want a slice they’ll have to prove they know their rightful second-class place in it by complying with a bunch of insane demands as a show of loyalty to the white male power structure.

Do real life men – you know, the audience – turn up their noses at an overall attractive woman because her lips don’t pout, she carries a few extra pounds, or her nose isn’t a particular shape? Does anyone know a real life heterosexual man who’s that picky? …that you do not suspect of being secretly gay and using this stuff as an excuse not to date the woman with whom you’re trying to fix him up?

Jennifer’s proposed list of male criteria to make things fair

I don’t actually advocate this list. Like I said, many actors I love would not make the cut. This is just for demonstration purposes.

  • Lean physique, lean faces. No beer bellies, no fleshy faces. (Even though fleshy faces can be attractive, sorry; they’re not in at the moment. Get over it.)
  • White.
  • Full lips.
  • Long legs.
  • ETA: Tight, well shaped butts.
  • Dramatic cheekbones. (Kind of random, but hey, we have to sort the winners and losers somehow, right?)
  • Several inches taller than the average man (average is 5’10”, so we’re talking a 6′ minimum).
  • Broad shoulders.
  • No big noses (there goes 25% of them).
  • No imperfect noses (another 25%).
  • No weak or jutting chins (another 25% – wow, this is awesome! Soon we’ll have all those men begging us for a session on the casting couch!).
  • Perfect teeth.
  • Big eyes.
  • Glossy hair.

That’s really not enough. To balance out the breast obsession, I should spell out some sort of criteria for acceptable nipples and pectoral muscle shapes. I have trouble doing that because even I’m not that picky and I know there’s no single ideal. And yet the same is true with women’s breasts, and we still have to cope with this fixation.

Imagine how many attractive, fascinating male actors this criteria would weed out.

Now imagine how many attractive, fascinating female actors you’ve never had the chance to see.

Comments

  1. kristi says

    Great post. And if the men in movies had to behave as blandly as most of the women do, movies would be very dull indeed.

  2. SunlessNick says

    To balance out the breast obsession, I should spell out some sort of criteria for acceptable nipples and pectoral muscle shapes.

    Abs? Or maybe proportions of ass? (It matters, since there’ll be a lot more nude scenes). Heck, maybe we should go with cock-size.

  3. Gategrrl says

    I’d rather go by ass-shape and proportion, I think. Although women’s crotches are shown liberally at this point (in more artsy and less in mainstream films) men’s crotches are 99.9% verboten and have higher ratings than similiar films showing women’s crotches. Meaning, a penis gets an R-17 or an X while a vulva/thatch gets an R, give or take. I’m not familiar with the current rating system to be sure, though. It gets changed every few years.

  4. Patrick says

    Very well put. Where is the female Paul Giamatti, Willem Dafoe, or Brian Cox? Unable to get work, that’s where.

    Note to Hollywood: I like Claudia Black’s nose. It suits her.

  5. says

    I assume your proposed solution is just to make a point, right? I don’t think that redcuing the range of male actors to bland subset would be an improvement. Unless a backlash against the boring blandness of it all helped pave the way for seeing a greater range character types in general, including female characters.

  6. Genevieve says

    Yep…if the male standards were as strict as female standards, there’d be no Adrian Brody. Or quite a few other Oscar-winning actors.

  7. says

    @Kristi, another good point.

    @Nick, three very good suggestions, LOL.

    @Gategrrl, we should equalize the ratings systems, though, while we’re at it.

    @Patrick, I hope they read it. Claudia Black is fantastic in so many ways, and yet Hollywood would want her to “fix” her nose so she wouldn’t be unique and stand out anymore. (I think it’s so women can’t be as interesting as men in film.)

    @C.L., of course it was just to make a point. That’s why I said “imagine” in the two sentences afterward. But without laying out a similarly tough criteria for men, I don’t think one quite comprehends just how accepting we are of how men naturally look, compared to our requirements of women to resemble a little plastic doll from the 50’s. It was a learning exercise for me just to write that criteria out.

  8. Pat Mathews says

    Hollywood and TV aim everything at their beloved 17-34 year old male demographic, who as a group are pretty well proven to be able to see better than they can think.

  9. Scarlett says

    What, no Tom Hanks or Woody Allen, to name a few :p

    I remember seeing The Pianist and thinking Brody was insanely hot. I have a tendancy to develop a crush on an actor because I like the character I see them first in, regardless of who else they go onto play (it’s Will Hunting I keep going to see, not Matt Damon :p) but one of the thing I liked about Brody was that nose. His features were so imperfect and I liked that.

    Or… it may just have been that I’m Polish and my grandparents lived through the war so a movie like that is going to resonate with me. Hence the character thing :p

    I actually think we give most men far less credit than we should when it comes to body types. There are men out there who are deeply superficial about looks, for sure, but there are women out there who are the same. That’s just a superficial personality, that’s got nothing to do with gender.

    The thing that always interests me is how many men can’t think of anyone hotter than Alyson Hannigan (who, I think, is the female Michael Shanks when it comes to cult status). She’s shortish, she’s a redhead, she’s freckly. Yet so many men I’ve met think she’s all that. I think it’s an illustration of how men find women who don’t have much in common with that list sexy, but TPTB keep saying ‘no, this is what you like’. Which is a disservice to everyone.

  10. Scarlett says

    Pat, I have to disagree with you about 17-34 year-old men as a group being able to see better than they think. I’ve known quite a few men in that age group who had a fairly detailed criteria about personality as well as looks when it came to a character, a lot of men who liked so-and-so in this role because of X but not in that role because of Y. I think it’s a disservice to men to throw a narrow beauty type in front of a man and expect him to automatically find her sexy. I think men’s taste in women is just as varied as women’s taste in men (and I apologise for the obvious leaning towards hetronormativity in that statement).

  11. Fran Hartman says

    Scarlett, you are so right on. About eight years ago, who was the cult favorite sex symbol for that crowd? Gillian Anderson – another short, freckly redhead. :D

    A friend of mine and I once had a discussion of “sex symbols that aren’t” – referring to men, specifically – in a bar, and it was one of those things that got most of the surrounding folk involved. To my surprise, most folks mentioned George Clooney and Brad Pitt (too cookie cutter and “typical”) on the men’s side and Jessica Alba and Pamela Anderson on the women’s side (too generic, no brains). Responses to “well, what IS sexy?” were all over the map. There was very little that was constant – which just goes to show that the whole variety thing? Yeah…that probably would sell more than Hollywood gives us credit for, both men AND women.

    But then, this was a slightly older crowd, and most people also expressed frustration with the youth-obsessed nature of what Hollywood shoves down our throats. Because, of course, if we’re being told that we can only accept someone who’s under 25 as our sex symbols, what does that say about our own relative attractiveness now that we’re (gasp) over 40?

    And for the record? Big noses WIN. David Duchovny, Adrian Brody, Jeff Goldblum…I’m lookin’ at you, gentlemen…

  12. Scarlett says

    Well, as far as youth culture goes, again, I think there’s a disservice being done to assume that men within a particular age group have very narrow standards when it comes to what makes a woman beautiful. I think Hollywood’s got it in their heads that this standard exists and keeps perpetuating it when in RL I’ve known men to be fascinated by all kinds of body types.

  13. SunlessNick says

    I think that younger age groups, of either sex, don’t have standards they entirely trust in, or perhaps can entirely articulate, so they easily glom onto what’s fed to them, resulting in a monotonous array of Prince Charmings and Princess Decoratives.

    Off the top of my head, a dozen beautiful women I could think of are Freema Agyeman, Lena Olin, Elodie Bouchez, Bettany Hughes, Linda Hamilton, Lena Headey, Tori Amos, Grace Park, Claudia Black, Vanessa Mae, Sarah-Jane Redmond, and Michelle Yeoh. I don’t know if they’re as different from one another – or from the standards BetaCandy refers to – as I want to find them (or want to think of myself as looking). But I do think they put the lie to Hollywood’s tunnel vision.

    Also, all of them are really talented, and maybe that’s the point I ought to be making – that talent is attractive – in women as well as men, and to men as well as women.

    • Pumpkin says

      I know this post is two years old and you’ll probably never see this – I was just spelunking through the archives, being a relatively new arrival here – but your post literally made me gasp. Me too!!

      I have no idea why I was so surprised – as Scarlett pointed out, Alyson has a huge cult following. But…still! I’ve had a massive crush on her since I used to watch Buffy as a teen. I absolutely adore that woman. So very beautiful.

      Funnily enough, I’ve got to agree with the comments on Gillian Anderson, too! With Alyson, it was more to do with her being quirky and cute and peppy and smart. With Gillian, it was the fact that she played a smart, cool, totally competent character. I remember this one random scene where some incidental young street thug sees her as easy prey, and is then slammed into a hammerlock by the trained special agent, having “FBI, motherfucker!” (or something like that) screamed at him. Dude practically wet himself. So fucking awesome.

    • Pumpkin says

      Oops! That comment was aimed at Patrick, the fellow admirer of Alyson Hannigan. Although I just noticed you mentioned Freema Agyeman, who gets a hells yeah from me. Loved her on Doctor Who.

  14. Patrick says

    Scarlett, I honestly can’t think of anyone hotter than Alyson Hannigan. And she misses out on… what, six items on that list? So it isn’t surprising that it took a cult show for her to reach stardom.

    Of course, Hannigan is a perfect example of people being attracted to qualities other than physical appearance, as both her acting style and the characters she plays are very appealing.

    • Pumpkin says

      Oh, shoot. I goofed up and hit the wrong reply button. My post above was meant for you (Patrick), but now I’ve gone and confused SunlessNick.

  15. sbg says

    Now imagine how many attractive, fascinating female actors you’ve never had the chance to see.

    I can’t, I’m too depressed.

    It’s long frustrated me that it’s acceptable for a leading man to have imperfections, but not for a leading woman. There are exceptions, of course.

  16. thisisendless says

    yeah it does seem women have to look even more cartoonishly perfect and ill proportioned lately.

    I say this because I was watching “Buck Rogers in the 25th century” on netflix last week and the first thing that struck me was that all the women had NORMAL sized breasts. They weren’t like, freakishly large. They were thin but I did not see ribcages. The next thing that struck me was that that was something that struck me as unusual. Having a body where everything was “proportionate” (meaning that breasts were not the size of human heads), was not something I was USED to seeing.

    As an aside, Buck Rogers was also not as abysmal in the feminist department as I would have thought. Yeah, some stuff was pretty bad but Colonel Dearing is ALWAYS saving him. lol.

  17. Scarlett says

    Nick, I used to have a huge crush on Amos, she was the woman I’d turn for. Ironically enough, it was Scarlett’s Walk which turned me off her (disliked the album enough that I just never bothered to listen to anything new of her again) which I think in itself goes back to finding talent attractive; when she and I were musically in the same place, that was so hot, when we weren’t so much, I lost interest. While she certainly has very striking features, I don’t think her looks interested me so much as her talent and mindset.

    I’m optimistic enough to believe there are plenty of men out there who think the same way. I think the cult following of women like Hannigan and Anderson (Gillian, not Pamela!) is proof positive that if you give someone many of them would see as quirky and appealling without nesasarily(sp?) meeting traditional beauty standards, they’ll never be able to cite someone so hot :p I actually think all the women you’ve cited are proof of that, but Hollywood seems determined to keeping thinking ‘no, what you REALLY want are Jessica Biel clones’ :(

  18. Patrick says

    Interesting. In addition to Alyson Hannigan, I do find both Tori Amos and Jessica Biel to be “insanely hot.” Like Scarlett, in Amos’ case talent is a big factor – I love her voice and her music. (Oddly, Scarlet’s Walk is my second-favorite Amos disc after Boys for Pele). And her minset is another factor there. I think my crush on Amos really took hold when I realized that lyrics like “tuna, luna, a little flubber in my igloo” make perfect and complete sense to her.

    Biel is interesting because I normally don’t find women of her “type” especially attractive, and I just considered her “generically pretty” until I saw her in Blade: Trinity, for which she had gained about fifteen pounds of muscle, and suddenly she was mesmerisingly gorgeous. I think that definitely says that individual tastes (like my fondness for rather muscular women) are far, far more significant that what Hollywood tells us is attractive. (And my fondness for Biel has continued even though she has lost most of that muscle.)

    For that matter, continuing using my tastes as an example: I find muscular women very attractive, but I am not attracted only to muscular women. The idea that men might not only have individual preferences, but that a given man’s preferences can vary, would probably make executives’ heads explode.

  19. says

    @Pat, I don’t know how much of it’s really that demographic group, or just Hollywood’s reflection of its own perpetual adolescence.

    @Genevieve, I started to make a list of men who’d be out if they nitpicked at them like they do women. One of my favorites – Chris Noth – would be right out. Scrubs would suddenly have an all-female cast, except for one or two of Elliot’s boyfriends and Turk. And so on.

    @Fran, ITA that more variety would result in more profit. That’s why I can’t interpret Hollywood’s refusal to chase the dollar as anything but indulging their own fantasies.

    @Nick:

    I think that younger age groups, of either sex, don’t have standards they entirely trust in, or perhaps can entirely articulate, so they easily glom onto what’s fed to them, resulting in a monotonous array of Prince Charmings and Princess Decoratives.

    That’s a good point.

    As for the actresses you named, I don’t know them all, but most of them come within 1-3 traits of the criteria. Grace Park doesn’t, but that may be why she’s on the Sci-Fi channel instead of embarking on a movie career or a network show of her own. While Claudia Black is on a US show, I don’t think Hollywood is making her any offers (a 9 year old Sci-Fi channel show is not considered a great achievement for an actress hoping to make it in the US). I’m hard-pressed to think of an actress whose gotten major work in the US with a nose like Black or Redmond have, and they are both very good-looking women with some seriously dedicated fans. Which is my point – had they been Americans, I doubt they’d have gotten as far as they have working in Canada.

    @ThisIsEndless, OMG, I know what you mean! When I started watching Cagney and Lacey a few months ago, I had to adjust. They looked like real people. Uncommonly good-looking real people, but still: real.

  20. EMP says

    Oh, man, you HAD to go and link to my favorite actress out there, one who pretty much rides head and shoulders among many others, the exceedingly talented and lovely Claudia Black.

    Oy.

    Listen to this woman give an interview and be discomfited by the fact that a woman who is talented but refuses the requisite surgery spends her time doing audio work.

    And does it extremely well.

    I will say, though, that a certain “Grey’s Anatomy” hasn’t quite bowed to the majority. Ellen Pompeo is no one’s idea of exquisite beauty, Sara Ramirez, while beautiful, is not a perfect size 1, Brooke Smith looks like a many woman you’d meet at work, Chandra Wilson has the gall to be short and overweight, and Sandra Oh is ASIAN. Asian! The only “typical” beauty is Katherine Heigel…

    Oh, wait. The least talented and the one with all the movieoffers.

    I stand corrected.

    And Jim Belushi is married to Courtney Thorne Smith in TV land.

    What is wrong with these people!

  21. MaggieCat says

    I say this because I was watching “Buck Rogers in the 25th century” on netflix last week and the first thing that struck me was that all the women had NORMAL sized breasts. They weren’t like, freakishly large. They were thin but I did not see ribcages.

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother several months ago when there happened to be an episode of Cold Case on where the flashbacks were set in the 1970s, and my mother went off on a rant about how no one then was as skinny as the modern actress playing the main character in those sequences, or the whole group of women of roughly equivalent size in one scene. I believe it led to my pointing out an in-story reason or two that it might be acceptable story-wise in that case, and got a very prickly response to the effect of: “No. You would not have been able to find two women that skinny back then. I can count all her ribs and vertebrae for ****’s sake!” Also, several characters had described this woman as being absolutely gorgeous, which then started the rant again about how that wasn’t the norm and would have been highly unlikely back then.

    I believe it was set within a year or so of when Buck Rogers was in production. Why do I feel like we’re going in reverse?

  22. Patrick says

    It irks me greatly to think that anyone has suggested that Claudia Black get cosmetic surgery. She’s gorgeous as who she is, and changing her appearance to meet Hollywood’s beauty standards would take something away from her.

    I have to say that my admiration for Black is definitely increased by her refusal to “help” her career in this way.

  23. says

    Claudia Black would look like 15 other interchangeable actresses if she “fixed” her nose. I find her appearance awesome. I enjoy her talent immensely. She should have her own damn show – she’s got what it takes.

    @Maggie, we ARE going in reverse. In the early 80’s (Buck Rodgers time), I felt like I was expected to be bone-thin. But I didn’t see that on film – actresses may actually have been underweight, but on film they looked normal. No ribs showing, etc. Then in the late 80’s/early 90’s, as the common person was getting over the idea that she should be rail-thin, suddenly they started showing off chest ribs and breastbones and scary skinny arms. It was a big WTF, and it seemed to happen suddenly. And nothing was ever the same again.

    Women in the 80’s were proportionate. There were still insane stupid criteria for them, but they weren’t expected to be skinny yet have big breasts. And I daresay cosmetic surgery wasn’t considered part of the standard skin care routine. They got surgery to look younger and I’m sure to fix “flaws”, but it wasn’t like you had to go get your lips plumped before showing up for an audition. That’s just bizarre.

  24. sbg says

    Claudia Black would look like 15 other interchangeable actresses if she “fixed” her nose. I find her appearance awesome. I enjoy her talent immensely. She should have her own damn show – she’s got what it takes.

    *cough*Jennifer Grey*cough* Look what happened after her nose job. More recently, it was disappointing to see Ashlee Simpson and Ashley Tisdale go the nose-job route – before, they looked beautiful and unique and after, they look like every other young Hollywood starlets.

  25. EMP says

    Claudia Black would look like 15 other interchangeable actresses if she “fixed” her nose. I find her appearance awesome. I enjoy her talent immensely. She should have her own damn show – she’s got what it takes.

    As much as I do agree with the shallowness of Hollywood casting directors, I don’t’ think her nose is what makes her especially distinctive. Truly, I think it’s her voice and her general presence. There’s just something very regal about her, and it’s not just the heighth because being tall is sort of expected.

    I think all those things that make her fantastic are exactly why she isn’t Katherine Heigl, the latest “it” girl–she’s comes across as intelligent, witty and interesting, and has a voice that carries authority.

    Truly, I think that’s what scares Hollywood the most: an authoritative woman.

  26. EMP says

    Ooh, let me correct my last comment–I agree with the PREMISE that Hollywood casting directors are shallow when it comes to casting innocuous females, not that I agree that this is all right.

  27. Jennifer Kesler says

    @SBG, it’s depressing.

    @EMP, yes, there’s a lot that makes her standout, and I do think an authoritative woman scares the pants off Hollywood men.

  28. says

    An excellent article, as usual. Though I may have to argue that while most women need to be above 5 feet, for inches, they are equally not allowed to pass 6 feet. They must not tower over the leading man! Of course, this may well be mostly a stage issue, as I have an extremely tall stage actress friend who has the hardest time getting work. In film, they have tricks to remedy this, but I still don’t see that many extremely tall women in film. (I’m only 5 foot 2, so I’m sort of at the other end of that spectrum.)
    I have had such a girlcrush on Claudia Black ever since I first saw her, it’s crazy. Also, the characters that I always thought of as the most gorgeous on The West Wing were Allison Janney and Stockard Channing, and, at least at the time, Janney was viewed as too “angular” to be attractive, and Channing was apparently not thin enough.

  29. says

    Yep, you’re right that there’s a maximum height requirement, too. And it varies, because there are a few really short guys like Tom Cruise who’ve been megastars for reasons just not apparent to me, which means a lot of actresses are taller than they are.

    But even that is sad, because I’m reminded of David McCallum and Joanna Lumley in Sapphire and Steel back in the early 80’s in the UK. They’re close to the same height in flats, so most of the episodes put her in heels to make her taller. And David McCallum was so comfortable with it, so confident, that it never occurred to you to think it looked weird or mattered in any way.

  30. sbg says

    Random insertion of a favorite quote. ;)

    But people add other qualities to beauty – sublimity, human interest, tenderness, love – because beauty does not long content them. Beauty is perfect, and perfection (such is human nature) holds our attention but for a little while.

    W. Somerset Maugham

  31. Katherine says

    Since the conversation got derailed a bit to Claudia Black, I wanted to jump in for a moment and ask — has anyone, or could someone, do a writeup about the complete infantilization her character underwent during the last two seasons of Stargate? I searched but only found an initial post when she became a regular.

    As a lover of the original Vala, who was intelligent, confident and self-sufficient, I was horrified when they brought her into the SG-1 team as a silly girl with pigtails (!) who cared more about her hairdryer than the success of the mission. I suppose it was their method of doing a “character arc” but I can’t believe the strong Vala would turn into such a stereotypical female so fast. That, plus the inexplicable elevation of Mitchell over Carter, really ruined much of those last two seasons for me.

    Thanks! (sorry for hijack!)

  32. SunlessNick says

    As for the actresses you named, I don’t know them all, but most of them come within 1-3 traits of the criteria. - BetaCandy

    Something for me to think a bit more about, then.

  33. says

    Katherine, we have a couple more posts than that. This one might be what you’re looking for:

    Vala Mal Doran on Stargate SG-1 in Season 10 by aizjanika

    There’s also 10 Things I Hate About Vala by sbg, which is not so much about the infantilizing, but I think it speaks volumes to how the writers were asking us to suddenly trust and adore this character who’d been introduced as a not-particularly-sympathetic selfish villain.

    Unfortunately I stopped watching the show around the time it became apparent that they were framing her as someone’s fantasy of a molested child coming into a super-sexxxy adolescence, which I found to be one of the the show’s more disturbing missteps.

  34. Gategrrl says

    It all goes to show that with women characters, all that really counts is that the actress be charismatic, and the answer to romantic fantasies of their shippy viewers.

    In this case, there are fans who are WILD for Vala simply because she satisfies that deep need for romance of any kind in any show, even when it is inapproriate for the characters OR the show.

    It’s not like she was developed to be like Dexter, of the Showtime (HBO?) series who starts out as a serial killer, and yet is a sympathetic monster that you can sort-of root for, because he only goes after other “bad guys” (other serial killers or sociopaths). If Vala had been developed as a parallel to the Dexter-type of character, she would have retained her interesting facets and stayed true to her own character – and none of that shippy shit would have occured…I think.

  35. Katherine says

    Thanks, BetaCandy. I thought I remembered there was something else :).

    Interestingly, reading those articles and the comments, it seems that a lot of people didn’t like the original Vala either. It really shows me how I wish she had developed. She could have had a character arc that dealt with her learning not to lie, to steal, and to use sex as a tool, without losing her endearing qualities: the confidence and magnetism she displayed in Prometheus Unbound. If she had, a lot more people probably would have liked her. I think TPTB underestimated the fans; lots of SG-1 fans male and female have voiced their appreciation of strong women characters.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion.

  36. says

    Reminds me of something a friend of mine said once about thinness (he’s a male entertainer): “I keep seeing people I know who are going through chemo, and they look really good to me.”

  37. sbg says

    Reminds me of something a friend of mine said once about thinness (he’s a male entertainer): “I keep seeing people I know who are going through chemo, and they look really good to me.”

    Wow, that’s really encapsulates how messed up we’ve become about this issue. :(

  38. littlem says

    It’s all about white men seeing the world as something they own exclusive rights to, and if others want a slice they’ll have to prove they know their rightful second-class place in it by complying with a bunch of insane demands as a show of loyalty to the white male power structure.

    Thank you for articulating something I have felt my whole life but not been able to properly consolidate.

    Do real men – you know, the audience – turn up their noses at an overall attractive woman because her lips that don’t pout, she carries a few extra pounds, or her nose isn’t a particular shape? Does anyone know a real man who’s that picky?

    You must not live in New York or Los Angeles. A certain … symmetry … is almost required, even if you don’t work as an actress, or in PR.

  39. says

    No, LittleM, I DO live in Los Angeles but every time I talk about how insane the beauty standard is here among even the average people, people tend to dismiss it because they’ve never seen anything like that in the areas where they’ve lived.

    So I decided to stop regarding Los Angelenos as human, and ever since, the world has made a lot of sense. :D

    For example, in most regions, I’m about a 7/10 on the beauty scale – pretty, worth checking out. In L.A., I’m a 3-5 – rarely worth a second glance.

  40. SunlessNick says

    Perhaps most of the time, they don’t consciously break beauty standards into a list like the one in your post – they think “well, she has to be pretty/beautiful/sexy/hot/gorgeous” without thinking about what those concepts entail, or the degree of patterning they show in them – or “I don’t have a list, she just has to have something” without analysing the something too far. It happened to me earlier in this thread; I doubt I’m the only one. :)

    Which goes to proving your point of course.

    Something else that occurred:

    In men, those five words – pretty, beautiful (or handsome), sexy, hot, and gorgeous – don’t mean quite same things. Combing Lost for examples, I could say that Boone was pretty, Charlie started out pretty and became hot, Jack is handsome, Sayid is both hot and sexy, and Hurley is gorgeous – to whom I apply those words, and even how I demark them might be subjective – but that I demark them makes sense to people.

    In women, they treated as the same thing. Kate, Claire, Sun, Danielle, or Juliet have to be all five or they’re considered none. Or they have to fit one – usually pretty – and the rest are considered to follow.

  41. says

    Nick, I think that’s largely true, though it is my understanding that random features like “collagen lips” can become a requirement from the studio heads down to the casting people. So they DO break it down somewhat.

    But after a while it’s self-perpetuating. Actresses look at who’s getting parts and notice when no one with this feature or that is getting cast. They try to have the features they see the industry casting. And then the industry can – seriously – forget that it started this crap, and chuckle about those silly gals and how obsessive they are with their appearance! (Which makes me absolutely homicidal.)

    What the women all need to seem, regardless of what “beauty” word you or I might apply, is in need of male validation. That’s what Hollywood believes the young target male audience wants – it’s all about young male insecurity. Women characters who are gorgeous and enjoy casual sex enough that even insecure 16 year old boys can imagine they’d have a chance are STILL scary because they are in control, and control is the only part of security insecure young men have grasped. It’s codified in looks – big eyes and pouty lips look childlike, and therefore non-threatening. But it goes deeper than that. (I keep thinking of Teryl Rothery, who it totally hot and gorgeous and sufficiently meets the criteria on my list, but always seems to play women who are too authoritative to need validation badly enough to find themselves waking up with some guy who spun them a line that sounded good after the third tequila shooter.)

    It’s interesting that while young boys’ insecurities are met by the media with carefully crafted non-threatening women characters, young girls’ insecurities are met with those same carefully crafted non-threatening women characters, and the male characters who apparently refuse to date anything that does look like those women, regardless of what else she’s got going for her.

    Hmm, this might brew into a whole post someday.

  42. Legible Susan says

    (Having followed link from Comments you haven’t read yet)

    (i) Woo hoo, automatically going to last page of comments

    (ii) Why latest at top when single pages of comments are in first-to-last order? Accidental artefact of going to last page?

    Sorry about the nitpicking. Also, your “site mission” (as linked from the site menu in the sidebar) has a link saying get involved that goes to a 404 error. (I was looking for somewhere to place comments on the site as opposed to the post I just happened to be at.)

  43. says

    Susan, with the plugin available, it’s either/or: both comments and numbered pages in ASC or DESC. I’ve gone back to ASC order as that’s more in tune with the rest of the site. I also raised the limit for paging to 60, so it will happen on a lot fewer posts.

  44. CR says

    You forgot the butt requirement. Leading men should have nice tight butts and turn around a lot in movies. :-D

  45. says

    OH MY GOD, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

    I’ve edited the post to include the butt requirement in that final list. I did mention it as my very first requirement when I was talking about my personal ideals. It is absurdly important to me that a man have a tight, well-shaped butt.

  46. Eileen says

    Last season on House they made the unreal gorgeousness of all the female characters into a plot point. They didn’t go so far as to include women in the cast who were equivalently attractive to the male leads, but at least they admitted what they were doing and made it a plot point.

    The big thing that I get sick of (and that led me to quit acting at a young age) is seeing very very pretty women cast as plain women. Those are my roles! Why are models in my roles? I saw the writing on the wall and gave up before I started to feel too bad about myself. I didn’t want to act enough to be abused that much.

  47. sbg says

    Those are my roles! Why are models in my roles? I saw the writing on the wall and gave up before I started to feel too bad about myself. I didn’t want to act enough to be abused that much.

    Pretty can play plain, but plain can never play pretty. Just throw a pair of glasses and a bad wardrobe on a pretty woman, and she’s suddenly “plain” or even “ugly.”

    Sets it up for the big reveal about how the ugly duckling is actually swan.

    ::rolls eyes::

    A male ugly duckling, however, can be both ugly and hot, with no magical physical transformation at all.

  48. says

    Just from a viewing perspective I get really irritated seeing a pretty actress cast as a plain Jane. It’s not a feminist or political objection – it simply pulls me out of the story like a badly executed stunt. My eyes know I’m not seeing film wants to believe it’s shown me.

  49. sbg says

    It’s not a feminist or political objection – it simply pulls me out of the story like a badly executed stunt. My eyes know I’m not seeing film wants to believe it’s shown me.

    Or perfect, white teeth of all characters in a period piece. ;)

    For me it’s a glasses = ugly thing. I like the way I look in glasses, while I’m being shown everwhere (except ads for LensCrafters) that glasses are not attractive. Heh.

  50. MaggieCat says

    Or perfect, white teeth of all characters in a period piece. ;)

    I obviously can’t speak for anyone else, but that is one anachronism that I’m totally willing to overlook. I’m not saying the whole world needs caps or veneers, but let’s not go crazy, ‘kay? ;-)

    it simply pulls me out of the story like a badly executed stunt. My eyes know I’m not seeing film wants to believe it’s shown me.

    That sort of thing doesn’t usually stick out to me unless I’m already looking for it, because most of the people they cast in those roles are so similar looking that I do find them boring. This is why I’m much better at identifying the Hey It’s That Guy/Woman than the parade of cookie-cutter 20 to 30 year olds who show up in larger roles– there’s so little that’s distinctive there. Which is very sad, for them and for the people who aren’t getting cast.

    I can think of a few times where I’ve even spent half a show trying to figure out if they recast some random recurring guest star because while I remember the character vaguely, I have no recollection of the actor. (CSI leaps to mind, thanks to Sara’s seasons 2-3 boyfriend Hank. Seriously never had any idea when some tallish, kinda blondish guy was going to turn out to be him, even when he was in uniform.)

  51. says

    It’s not the teeth, per se, it’s the whole peroxide-blonde tanning-booth Surfer Boy/Babe look on someone who’s supposed to be from someplace/somewhen else than Southern California, 1940-2008, and yet this supposed Faerie Queen/Amazon Shaman/Warrior Poet/Dragonrider/Merman/VikingHero looks like someone yanked out of Baywatch and hastily shoved into some costume duds and a prop sword stuck in their hand, grinning coyly at the camera in the only way they know how… Boris Vallejo’s illustrations are REALLY bad for this, but an awful lot of cover artists have this problem with their chosen models, and of course it’s epidemic in Hollywood historicals/fantasy shows.

    (I swear that’s one of the reasons for Buffy’s cult following: here were all these people with interesting faces and voices who didn’t all look just like everybody else on TV! Likewise, Dr. Who, whichever version…)

  52. Rae says

    Or perfect, white teeth of all characters in a period piece. ;)

    “I obviously can’t speak for anyone else, but that is one anachronism that I’m totally willing to overlook. I’m not saying the whole world needs caps or veneers, but let’s not go crazy, ‘kay? ;-)

    I love how we all sit around patting ourselves on the back for not being culturally indoctrinated about physical appearance, but somehow it is still acceptable to demand everyone we see on TV to have perfectly straight and bleached teeth. Hygiene is one thing, but parents being made to believe they have to put themselves into huge debt just to be sure their children have perfect teeth is not right.

    Many people rationalize their discrimination against people with imperfect teeth by saying it’s unhygienic (which is untrue), but they are really indoctrinated with the stereotype that people with imperfect teeth are stupid, dirty, and uneducated. The truth of course is the placement and strength of one’s teeth is mostly genetic and without COSMETIC surgery, you can’t fix it.

    Sorry, I just HAD to rant about that because it’s so prevalent in otherwise anti-lookism/racism/sexism/abilism communities. I think it is the result that most people in these communities are middle-class and educated and thus have access to orthodontic care and are surrounded by others who are the same.

    Otherwise, I really like the post and most of the comments have been insightful.

    P.S. – I noticed for the first time while watching “The Dark Knight” that Morgan Freeman has far less than perfect teeth. I don’t have any conclusions to draw from that, but it is something to think about.

  53. says

    I didn’t think Maggie was saying she demands perfect straight white teeth. I thought she meant she doesn’t want to see a perfectly realistic representation of what some mouths must have looked like before humans had developed any sort of dental care, dentures, etc.

    I actually prefer the British idea of good teeth. They don’t aspire to this unnaturally straight, white, veneered look Hollywood encourages, where a smile begins to look like comic art. Many British actors have teeth that are fairly straight, reasonably white – and that’s more attractive to me than a smile that no longer looks human.

    That said, I know some dentists and orthodontists pressure parents to do unnecessary work on their kids’ teeth, but it’s not ALL unnecessary. Braces can contribute to hygiene if your teeth are so closely packed that some of them are getting shoved into a second row out front where the toothbrush and floss can no longer reach them, as was my case. Mine were never “perfectly” straightened and I honestly didn’t want them to be – I wanted them to still look like teeth.

  54. MaggieCat says

    I love how we all sit around patting ourselves on the back for not being culturally indoctrinated about physical appearance, but somehow it is still acceptable to demand everyone we see on TV to have perfectly straight and bleached teeth. Hygiene is one thing, but parents being made to believe they have to put themselves into huge debt just to be sure their children have perfect teeth is not right.

    Sorry, I just HAD to rant about that because it’s so prevalent in otherwise anti-lookism/racism/sexism/abilism communities. I think it is the result that most people in these communities are middle-class and educated and thus have access to orthodontic care and are surrounded by others who are the same.

    I think you completely missed the tone of my comment. I thought both the part about not going crazy and the ;-) made it clear that this is not what I was talking about. When I said that what I had in mind was actually an episode of a show where the idea that it was a time before mass produced toothpaste was taken to an insane (and obviously badly faked) extreme in my opinion, given that the lack of modern dental practices doesn’t imply a complete lack of basic hygiene, and the character in question was supposed to have been reasonably well off until fairly recently.

    My argument is not that everyone needs to look like a Crest commercial, but when someone decides to try to address this issue with something set in Ye Olden Days they always do so badly and never apply it to their blandly pretty lead. It’s jarring when the hero obviously had extensive work done and the minor characters didn’t. I also felt I made it clear that it was a personal preference, something this thread is full of.

  55. says

    Braces can contribute to hygiene if your teeth are so closely packed that some of them are getting shoved into a second row out front where the toothbrush and floss can no longer reach them, as was my case.

    Or teeth sticking out where they tear at an upper lip – I’ve seen that too. Or causing massive amounts of pain and failure to chew (and hence digest) food properly.

    This is because we are an evolutionary kludge, not a perfect design. Whether or not your teeth will fit is determined by whether or not you’ve got a genetic matchup between the size of your jaw and the size of your teeth, and since most of these problems are non-lethal in the sense that they won’t kill most sufferers off before they’ve had a chance to breed (although dental cause a huge number of deaths among working class and poor people that usually go unrealized by the middle class) they haven’t (and wouldn’t) be eliminated by Natural Selection any time during the past few hundred thousand years of the species (any more than smokers will be eliminated by natural selection, as I used to frequently hear highly-educated idiots aver on Usenet as reasons why they didn’t support medical care for smokers, or assistance for getting off tobacco dependency. No, fools, by definition what which does not kill you off until after you are old enough to have grandchildren is unable to have the LEAST bit of evolutionary impact…)

    OTOH, the bit about so-called progressives sneering at people with bad teeth in an unreflective revelation of their entrenched classism is spot on. It doesn’t just happen with straightness either: I stopped paying attention to what Shakespeare’s Sister had to say after she defended her guest poster Watery Tart for expelling a bunch of putrid ly-vile mockery of people too poor to go to the dentist, and therefor missing teeth, a few years back.

  56. Hyperphonics says

    There are men out there who are deeply superficial about looks, for sure, but there are women out there who are the same. That’s just a superficial personality, that’s got nothing to do with gender.

    I think it’s a bit naive to believe that one’s concept of physical attractiveness has nothing to do with gender. I think the reality of all of this is summed up with Jennifer’s amazingly accurate, couldn’t have said it better myself, quote…

    I don’t think one quite comprehends just how accepting we are of how men naturally look, compared to our requirements of women to resemble a little plastic doll from the 50’s.

    “She really needs to wear some makeup or something, she’s got all those pits and dark circles and stuff on her face…” says a male friend of mine whose own skin looks like the bad side of the moon. Meanwhile, every girl who sees him thinks he gorgeous and never mentions his skin.

    “Dude, her breasts are sagging down to her stomach, hasn’t she ever heard of a pushup bra?” says an overweight male stranger waiting for the bus with me whose own chest sagged lower than the woman’s chest he was commenting on. Meanwhile, his wife/girlfriend was kissing and stroking him as if she had never known anyone so hot in her life.

    But they’re guys. They’re allowed to be imperfect, allowed to have a belly, bad skin, balding or thinning hair, to be flawed, to be natural, to be human. It doesn’t make them less of a man, but a woman – well – a woman can be flawed and even possibly likable that way… she just needs to do something about those flaws at some point and she really needs to be spectacular in other areas to make up for them.

    It’s like some strange unwritten rule.

    If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard a man say something to the effect of, “But I’m a guy. Guys are supposed to look like shit. Women are supposed to be hot.” I’d be typing this on a golden keyboard with diamond keys – and this concept seems to be echoed throughout society.

    Sure, some women say, “I like a man who is well groomed and well dressed and muscular and handsome and all around perfect”, but when the general population sees men like that, the first thing they think is, “He must be gay”, because apparently, a heterosexual man isn’t supposed to care about his looks and certainly not to the extent that a woman is supposed to obsess over hers – so if he does look just a bit too perfect, he must not be a “real man”.

    A woman who looks perfect, however, is just the perfect woman.

    It’s not that men aren’t attracted to women who don’t fit the “ideal” image of beauty because they are – just not for their looks.

    We could say that hollywood is just forcing males to “think” that they find certain things attractive, but I’m pretty sure no one is putting a gun to the heads of the millions of subscribers to magazines like Maxim and FHM and the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated who couldn’t care less about the articles…

    Men are given much more slack, even to the point where their “ugliness” can be what makes them attractive. Women aren’t afforded that same luxury.

    How often have you heard women remark, “Scars are really sexy on a man!” Sure, maybe what they really mean to say is, “I like rugged, dangerously mysterious men with a dark and brooding past and scars remind me of that.” Nevertheless, on a man, something “ugly” like a disfiguring scar can be beautiful.

    It’s not the same for women. For women, ugly physical traits are never anything other than ugly. A man may find her attractive, he’ll just find her attractive in spite of that ugly trait or even go so far as to remark that, “She’s hot, but she’d be hotter if she didn’t have that XYZ.”

    We may speak of how many men we’ve known who found short red heads with freckles attractive, but those aren’t traits that are considered ugly, just traits that aren’t used as the model for the ideal and women with those traits can still fit the ideal in other ways, so that’s a bad example.

    Look at the male singer Seal. Everyone who knows him is familiar with the huge birthmark/burn whatever it is taking up nearly half of his face. I can’t even count how many women think he’s just so handsome and that the mark on his face somehow makes him even more so.

    If you put that same mark across a woman’s face, how many males do you know who would say she was pretty? If you say any, you’re lying lol

    Yes, men and women have very different opinions on what’s “acceptable”. Women are set against much higher standards than men because men are much pickier about the way that women look than women are about the way that men look. And while there are women who are also that superficial, they’re still fewer in number and they don’t chase that superficial ideal the way that men do.

    A woman may walk into a bar and see a really hot guy and maybe try to talk to him, see what he’s all about. If his personality sucks, she’ll more than likely walk away. A man may walk into a bar and see a really hot girl and if she says, “Let’s go back to your place”, more than likely, the guy will do it. She doesn’t need to be intelligent or funny or charming. It would be nice and he may prefer that for a relationship, but who’s talking about relationships, right? She’s hot, let’s do her!”

    A woman may walk through the door, look at her average overweight hubby/boyfriend and think for a second, “I wish he looked like Adrian Brody”. Then she’ll think about all of the reasons she loves him in spite of him not being a sexpot and somehow, appreciate him more in that moment for it.

    A man may walk through the door, look at his average overweight wife/girlfriend and think for a second, “I wish she looked like Jessica Alba”. Then he’ll go watch porn for an hour starring women who do look like Jessica Alba, then turn on the TV to watch a show he mostly watches because of that really hot actress who has the most amazing body he’s ever seen while he talks to his buddy on the phone about that waitress with huge tits who served them at the restaurant three days ago.

    Sure, not everyone is like this, but the majority is what one must focus on when trying to disect problems and the majority of men have a more narrow-minded view of what makes a woman physically attractive than women do of what makes an attractive man. The fact that we may know exceptions to these rules in our personal lives doesn’t mean the “rules” don’t exist.

  57. A Very Bad Girl says

    Hyperphonics said: “A woman may walk through the door, look at her average overweight hubby/boyfriend and think for a second, “I wish he looked like Adrian Brody”. Then she’ll think about all of the reasons she loves him in spite of him not being a sexpot and somehow, appreciate him more in that moment for it.”

    LOL Not me.

    I seem to recall walking through the door, seeing my ever-expanding ex-bf sitting on the sofa, and thinking to myself “You fat, god-damned pig, get on a diet!”. Then, after he went to bed, I logged on to the internet and jilled-off to some really hot photos of Russell Crowe. I also cyber-sexed with quite a few guys in AOL chatrooms. : )

    I tend to believe that most women would be like me, had they rejected the cultural programming that society attempts to impose upon us all.

    IMO, the best thing any woman can do is drop all of the emotional nonsense, and learn how to embrace her inner-pervert (yes, it exists). Luckily, my mother was very open-minded about sex, and I was introduced to the male form at a rather young age, via Playgirl magazine. Appreciating a man strictly for his sexual appeal was encouraged, which is why I tend to view most men as nothing but sex toys. I honestly cannot stand their company unless I’m horny. Some people might think I’m a bitch for being this way, but I don’t care; if it’s ok for a guy, it should be ok for me too. That’s how I see it.

    • says

      I tend to believe that most women would be like me, had they rejected the cultural programming that society attempts to impose upon us all.

      Depends what you mean by that. I rejected my gender programming – in fact, most of it never took because I just couldn’t get being a “girl” to save my life – and I can be as shallow as anyone about looks. But the way you handled that situation is, IMO, nothing to brag about. You avoided the stereotypical “female” ways of handling it, but instead opted for a stereotypically MALE form of passive-aggression. Overcoming our programming does not mean embracing the programming of the opposite gender. It means thinking beyond ALL the bullshit.

      A better solution, IMO, would be for women and men to feel EQUALLY entitled to care about looks but also equally encouraged to think beyond that in evaluating someone’s worth to us.

  58. A Very Bad Girl says

    You avoided the stereotypical “female” ways of handling it, but instead opted for a stereotypically MALE form of passive-aggression. Overcoming our programming does not mean embracing the programming of the opposite gender.

    I totally disagree with you on that. I don’t feel as if I “behaved like a man”. Being critical is not a uniquely male trait. The way I behave comes naturally to me because it was never discouraged. That is the point I’m trying to make, here. The only reason such behavior is considered “male-like”, is because men are allowed to express it freely, without restraint.

    I really enjoyed your article, but I’m amazed that you would respond to my comment with the very stereotypical nonsense that I assumed you were opposed to. Am I also “behaving like a man” if I wear pants, initiate sex, or pay for dinner on a date?

    PS For the record, my ex was an ass, and unworthy of respect.

  59. says

    I wasn’t talking about being “critical” of his looks – that’s absolutely acceptable as far as I’m concerned, and so is dumping him because you don’t like his looks anymore.

    What I was talking about was your passively aggressively thinking he’s a fat pig and then looking to others for sexual gratification. That’s the stereotypical male way of handling things, and I don’t consider it an improvement over the stereotypical female way.

    I’d have just dumped his ass the instant I started having thoughts like that about him.

  60. A Very Bad Girl says

    I wasn’t talking about being “critical” of his looks – that’s absolutely acceptable

    OK, gotcha.

    So, it’s alright for me to be critical, but it’s not “acceptable” for me to diddle to photos of men on the internet? LOL

    No disrespect, but that sounds like something a misogynist might say.

    It seems that you are still attempting to dictate what qualifies as appropriate behavior for a woman.

    Masturbation isn’t just for men…. and, obviously, neither is the internet.

  61. A Very Bad Girl says

    PS Whether you realize it or not, what you’re doing is, essentially, shaming me for reliving my frustrations in a way that you feel is too “male-ish”.

    This is textbook sexism.

  62. Ikkin says

    She’s not trying to dictate what qualifies as appropriate for a woman – she’s talking about what’s appropriate for anyone. Trust in a relationship is an issue of personal responsibility and respect, not of gender, and it’s not really possible when you’re using and cheating on your partner. Calling it a “male” way of handling things is more to say that it’s a problematic trait that’s justified for guys because it’s “masculine” than to suggest that it’s actually okay for men and not for women.

    On the original topic, I wonder whether the “bishonen” ideal might be the closest thing to a male equivalent of beauty standards for women (looking through the OP again, bishonen are usually within 1-3 traits of the both lists). It’s more of an Eastern thing and usually involves created characters rather than pre-existing actors, but the reactions it provokes are probably useful in showing just how badly guys would react to such an expectation.

  63. says

    What Ikkin said. And AVBG, quit twisting my words. I think masturbation’s great, fantasizing about others while in a relationship is normal and unhealthy and nothing partners should take personally, and my only objection to cheating is that it involves deception and/or the breaking of a promise, implied or otherwise. (My preferred solution: just don’t form monogamous relationships, and then cheating is never an issue.)

    Something my mother said when I was a kid keeps coming to mind (paraphrasing): feminism is not about women becoming as irresponsible as men have been allowed to be. It should be about rethinking what’s acceptable behavior for BOTH genders, and then not making a distinction based on gender.

  64. A Very Bad Girl says

    Jennifer, I’m not putting words in your mouth. I’m going by what you’re saying.

    For the record, I don’t really have any problem with men’s “bad behavior”. In fact, my solitary gripe about them is their hypocrisy. If I got all fat & out of shape, I wouldn’t blame a guy for being disgusted with me. The problem is, women are taught to accept men’s flaws and “stop trying to change them”. This is what makes me angry. I am not turned on by the body of an unkempt man anymore than a man is turned on by the body of an unkempt woman. I see a lot of guys making excuses and claiming “women aren’t visual”, or wallowing in some other form of denial.

    Also, I never cheated on my ex, so I don’t know where you’re getting that from. Looking at other guys doesn’t make me a cheater. He should consider himself lucky that I was as loyal as I was. Not only did he neglect his body, but he had a rotten attitude. The kicker is how he would withhold sex to punish me for arguing with him. He knew I have a high sex-drive, so he used this to manipulate me. As messed up as he was, I still approached him in a sexual way because, well, you know, I was horny. It was a very disturbing experience for me to be constantly rejected by somebody in his condition. That being said, I don’t feel the least bit guilty for looking at other guys or cyber-sexing in chat rooms.

    Lastly, I am sick & tired of the notion that women have to be the “bigger person” or provide an example of “good behavior” for men to follow. I want no part of that burden. I am not an angel, I am human. Despite what mainstream society would have us believe, men and women are not that different from one another. Women are not morally superior. The belief that we are is just as sexist as asserting that women are inferior.

    I disagree with your mother’s definition of feminism, btw. Irresponsibility knows no gender. Also, I have never “became” anything. What I am is how I have always been. I’m certainly not going to change my personality just because somebody thinks it’s too similar to stereotypical guy behavior. Real feminism is opposed to this type of pigeonholing. It’s about accepting & encouraging diversity, not fitting into a cookie-cutter standard. I don’t act like a man, I act like me. That’s what you fail to understand.

  65. says

    You said you cyber-sexed with other guys. I wasn’t the only one to interpret that as cheating.

    You are indeed distorting everything that’s been said so you can beat a straw man. No one told you to be the “bigger person” here. And you completely twisted the quote from my mother: she was talking about society TOLERATING irresponsibility in men that it won’t tolerate in women. You want everyone to be as irresponsible as society allows/encourages men to be. I happen to think we should expect responsible behavior from all adults, regardless of gender.

  66. A Very Bad Girl says

    I don’t think cyber-sex qualifies as cheating, especially when your SO is withholding affection and alienating you.

    I’m not really buying the “mental cheating” thing.

    PS I left a couple of comments on one of your more recent articles, which is very good, but they are not showing up.

    • says

      Cheating is defined by the individuals in the relationship, and IMO what matters is whether the other member of the couple considers it cheating – in this case, that would be your ex, and I don’t know if he considers cybersex cheating. I’ve talked with many women who think “Woohoo, I treated that guy like shit!” is somehow feminist, and that’s how your comment came across (you have to admit, leading with the “goddamn pig” remark contributed to that interpretation). Treating people like shit is never something to celebrate – even though sometimes it’s necessary or even justified, which is why at no point was I judging you for it.

      Now, had you simply described your reluctance to date/stay involved with guys who aren’t physically attractive and your response to visual stimulation that we’re told isn’t normal for women, I’d have considered that being in touch with your real self. So if you’re content to leave it on that note and move on, so am I. :)

  67. A Very Bad Girl says

    Well, all I have to say is, you’re not the one who had to live with the guy… and trust me, “had” is the keyword.

    I told him I didn’t want to be with him anymore, and he just wouldn’t leave. The arguments were getting worse & worse, his piggishness was getting worse (I’m not just talking about the weight thing, either. I wont get into what else, because I don’t want to gross you out)… the whole thing was a mess. I finally had to lock him out of the apartment and put his stuff on the porch; he wouldn’t leave on his own, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    And, for the record, I am NOT one of those women who thinks “Woohoo, I treated that guy like shit!”. In fact, unfortunately, I tend to get along with most men better than other women. If I treat anybody like shit, it is usually in retaliation for them treating me like shit.

  68. says

    I do think, for the record, that the “women are more interested in a man’s personality and less shallow and will stay with unattractive men because they’re awesome like that” myth is, first of all, societally-ingrained bullshit, and second, a really unhealthy to propagate.

    No, we can’t all date Adrian Brody, and a realistic image of what we want in a romantic partner is important. But:

    1) If you’re going to have sex with someone, you probably want to find them sexually attractive. That’s not unreasonable–especially if you’re *only* going to have sex with that person.

    2) Being someone’s friend is no less important, and implies no less love, than being their SO. You can love someone a whole lot and still, if you’re not attracted to them, there’s nothing saying you “should” date them.

    3) Unless you have a specific goal for which you want a SO, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to remain single because the local talent isn’t doing it for you. There’s a “oh, she’s just deluding herself, isn’t that pathetic” message in society about this, but you know what? If it comes to tying myself down to some guy I feel “meh” about sexually or going it alone with a vibrator and some fantasies about Giles…well, the fantasies don’t get stomach flu at 3 AM and they don’t make me come home to meet their parents, so I’m not seeing the problem with Option 2.

    So yeah: annoying. And what’s more annoying? Society bombards women with all this you-have-to-be-less-shallow, look-past-the-surface-of-a-guy, Ugly-Guy-Hot-Wife bullshit and THEN turns around and talks about how women have low sex drives. And some women do–just like some men do–but really? I’m betting a substantial proportion of low-libido chicks are the ones who got suckered into relationships with meh guys who have “great personalities,” since That’s What Women Care About. Argh.

    …and I’m ranty. ;)

  69. says

    Rant away, Izzy. It really gets on my nerves when people say it’s biological for men to look for physical attraction and women to look for security. I believe this is absolutely a matter of conditioning. In a world where women have, until recently, been denied the right to pursue education, business, property ownership or any other means of taking care of oneself, what could we do but marry? And who would you marry – the gorgeous guy who seems likely to drink a lot instead of working, or the stable but dull man who doesn’t light your hormones afire?

    Conversely, a boy in that situation is hardly going to grow up thinking someday a woman will provide for him if he just picks the right one. Women had been rendered so powerless, and limited to one track (housekeeping and mothering), there was really nothing for men to use as a selection criteria but looks. Boys were taught that women automatically had maternal instincts, so there was no reason to worry “This one might not be a great mother to my children.” All girls were taught the skills of housekeeping that applied to their station (DIY or servant-bossing) because they sure weren’t taught anything else. What would a boy have done, but choose the cutest one who would have him?

    We may be a hundred or more years beyond all that being fully true, but the attitudes and life skills don’t disappear overnight.

  70. Gordon says

    “Do real life men – you know, the audience – turn up their noses at an overall attractive woman because her lips that don’t pout, she carries a few extra pounds, or her nose isn’t a particular shape? Does anyone know a real life heterosexual man who’s that picky? …that you do not suspect of being secretly gay?”

    – or Patrick Bateman.

    Claudia Black is a hottie! The (physically, generically) hottest girl I know – who is desired by all – also has a bump on her nose (which she hates, but few girls feel sorry for a self-loathing uberbabe). Come to think of it Claudia Black has always reminded me of the girl everyone fancied at uni, who was the spit of her, bent nose and all. She was actually extremely sporty, a joker, and friends with mostly men, so going against typical representations there as well I guess.

    I liked Gillian Anderson a lot partly because her scenes with Mulder were often convincingly intimate and friendly so it was easy to imagine actually getting along with her – the character had life, spark, a soul. And in her (if anything too wordy) monologues she sounds like she reads a lot of classical English literature.

    I like the Jessica Albas and Biels as well, but it’s in a very different way – the emotions aren’t engaged so the libido hardly cranks up at all; it’s like a machine with multiple triggers and stages and the generic babe isn’t enough to get even 10% of sex-mode up and running. In my experience anyway. I mean, the girl I fancied most in my life was just someone whose character I admired – not an amazing hottie or of a preferred physical type. It’s not about ‘aiming for what I can get’ either – I was once propositioned by a tall modelly girl who strongly resembled Heidi Klum but I just wasn’t feeling it; maybe I found her boring or something. At the time and now and again to this day I have this little voice that wants me to kick myself over it, but it’s not something I can really feel strongly – it’s just a voice that comes from false acquired notions of what I ought to want. It would be a trophy everyone else would admire but I might be faintly ashamed of. I always felt it was supposed to be about more than robotically banging the best possible T&A – I don’t think that’s something you get taught; it’s just a deep down fucking true instinct that gets smothered by so much bull. And I feel like 95% of womankind are all off the menu cos they are fixated on their equivalent bull.

  71. Gordon says

    I saw Jennifer and Izzy talking about the pop socio-biology memes that fly about and I wanted to add my own observation: we keep getting told (seems to me) that beauty is real and measurable and indicates ‘fitness’ yet as groups athletes and intellectual high-achievers aren’t noted for being unusually beautiful. Maybe there’s a generically beautiful ‘mean’ human form and the deviations represent security in diversity for the species, so maybe the most beautiful are optimal in some sense, while human-normal environmental conditions prevail… but it clearly can’t have THAT much of an effect.

    I think intuitively there’s something to be said for the theory that we seek out partners whose genetic quirks complement our own. If it was all a drive towards perfect beauty (averageness) species would lose diversity and the advantages that diversity confers.

    And humans aren’t even all that diverse. Humans evolved in Africa and spread out all over the globe in a time-period that is very very short on an evolutionary scale. That’s why racial differences are actually slight, even though folk can get hung up on the visually obvious. So think about it: we are culturally intolerant of diversity even though we are if anything short on diversity as a species. On average, if you examine the DNA of two blood-related monkeys from a single troop, you’ll see a lot more variation than you will when comparing two unrelated humans from opposite sides of the globe. If beauty is ‘averageness’ it seems that monkeys are less interested in it than we are. I would take a wild guess that monkeys intuitively know what’s good for them better than we do, with all our sophisticated cultural contrivances and perversions.

    I don’t want to replace a pop-science of beauty promotion with a pop-science of ugliness promotion, but certainly we should be aware that the ‘science of beauty’ likely owes much to cultural presuppositions.

  72. Scarlett says

    This actually made me think of a huge issue I had with Aus series Underbelly. Apparantly New Zealand breeds its heroin junkies more glamorous than the rest of the world, because this character look like she could be moonlighting as a supermodel. I saw a picture of the actual woman, she was quite pretty for a junkie, but she still looked like a junkie. It made her storyline seem so unbelievable.

  73. Karakuri says

    Well, that’s interesting. Even if people’s tastes vary widely, I’ll bet there’s a lot of overlap – your list of criteria for men was surprisingly similar to mine, even the sort of “length to his frame” – I know EXACTLY what you mean. The dramatic cheekbones is also something that would definitely have made it to my list. In real life, I might find a guy attractive who doesn’t fit any of those criteria, but yes, I have a very particular ideal in mind.

  74. Karakuri says

    I know you’re talking about the loss of good female actors to these standards – but I perceive it as a loss of a fantasy on the part women as well. I find Japanese BL games and erotic women’s manga so refreshing just because for once something is tailored to our gaze and it’s an amazing feeling. Ten times better if it’s accompanied by a great story and characters.

  75. says

    Karakuri, I don’t think I focus much on cheekbones, but I find I like eyebrows with some arch to them. And eyes that have a bit of flesh to the under-eye lid – enough to create a shadow under there. I mean, seriously, my list could’ve been longer, LOL.

    I remember when Young Riders came on TV in the late 80s. Here was a show with MULTIPLE ATTRACTIVE MEN, CONVENIENTLY STORED IN ONE PLACE! For my viewing pleasure! I hardly knew what to do with myself.

    Before then, I’d always had the feeling a bunch of ugly geezers behind the scenes were carefully putting lots of meh-looking men forward in an attempt to educate us females that we shouldn’t go looking for gorgeous guys because that is shallow and unpatriotic, and a shirking of our duty to provide sexual services to all the mehs and uggos of the nation. But of course, the astounding lack of even ordinary-looking women made it clear that if I wasn’t modelesque, these same men felt I should lock myself in a cupboard somewhere to prevent floods of vomit from rolling down the hillsides and overtaking the town, should I show my face and body outside. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to eventually sexually service the uggos if I didn’t leave the house, though. Hmm.

    It wasn’t so much that no one tried to socialize me as that I just couldn’t handle the double-think required to get properly socialized. ;)

  76. Anemone says

    In the commentary on the DVD for Bon Cop, Bad Cop (a Montreal film), the director and producer comment on how one woman is really too attractive to be a really good actor, but it’s not her fault, she can’t help it, and they go on about how talented the other actors are. Most of them would not be considered beautiful (Colm Feore is the second-most attractive, I guess), and some would never be hired by Hollywood at all. But they are good character actors. It is really bizarre to hear comments like this on a DVD commentary, and it makes me wonder whether I should work on my French and move to Montreal. Except I might be too attractive. (And too many of the roles are still too sexualized.) :p

  77. Charles RB says

    When I watched BBC dramas Occupation and State of Play, I did notice that a number of the actresses didn’t look as blandly perfect as I’d expect to see in US drama. They looked more… well, normal. Several were clearly in their late thirties or forties (late 40s for State’s Deborah Findlay). To a lesser extent, you had the same with the last Torchwood serial – Liz May Brice (MI5 Agent Johnson) is quite butch, and Findlay pops up again (now in her 50s) – and The Sarah Jane Adventures (Lis Sladen is _61_ now).

    Why there’s a difference, I don’t know. But all three serials and the Adventures are all awesome, almost as if older and less blandly perfect actresses can still…. ACT. My god.

  78. Anemone says

    It’s possible BBC prefers less attractive performers. Many years ago, Marina Sirtis came to the US to look for work because she was too attractive to work in the UK. So she got to be the token babe on Star Trek instead.

    This appears to be a possible bias in Montreal, too. (My above comment.)

    Sometimes you can’t win.

  79. says

    Many years ago, Marina Sirtis came to the US to look for work because she was too attractive to work in the UK. So she got to be the token babe on Star Trek instead.

    I can understand extraordinary good looks limiting the number of roles available to an actor – I mean, it’s a visual medium and no one can look “right” for every part. Except, Hollywood thinks women who fit the above checklist are the ONLY people worth casting, and they should be cast in every female role, even when that role specifically calls for a woman whose looks do not scream “Hollywood starlet.”

    But the happy medium here is obvious: most groups of 100 people in real life contain all sorts of looks – pretty people, people who have interesting if not strictly good-looking faces, people who are very plain, and people who are remarkably beautiful. This should be the model for casts. Instead of all gorgeous or all not-so-gorgeous, why not a little of everything including the really nowhere near gorgeous?

    did notice that a number of the actresses didn’t look as blandly perfect as I’d expect to see in US drama.

    I’d say “Hollywood drama” rather than US (not as a correction, but just an interesting observation). I’ve noticed that American TV made in NY, Vancouver and other areas outside southern California tend to cast some women who wouldn’t make this checklist. Of course, very few American movies are made outside the Hollywood set (that is, even if they’re filmed in another country, they tend to cast mostly Hollywood actors), so you don’t get a lot of variation in “American” movies.

  80. Charles RB says

    I wonder why telly made in NY and Vancouver is different?

    “Hollywood thinks women who fit the above checklist are the ONLY people worth casting”

    And then there’s condition viewers – I remember finding out people thought Tara from Buffy was fat. Because she’s not as skinny as the rest of the actresses. (So what the hell would they think of an actress who actually was fat?)

  81. says

    I’ve seen Amber Benson (Tara) in person, and actually she’s a very slim, fine-boned, medium-height woman. It’s actually that the other actresses are unusually tiny in build and stature. Which I consider a REALLY freaky thing to be judging people for, possibly even more so than weight.

    I figure NY and Vancouver are different because they don’t have the insane amount of ungodly perfect-looking actors to choose from. Between cosmetic surgery and generations of people who look just so having babies with other people who look just so, the percentage of Los Angelenos who look “just so” is way, way higher than anywhere else I’ve lived.

    Which may also cause people who live here to forget the normal range of beauty in human beings.

  82. Gordon says

    The lollypop look has been in for years – see Nicole Ritchie with her giant sunglasses that make her look like a little girl in her mummy’s clothes.

    It’s so unnatural how these looks come ‘in and out’ – I mean, when the look goes ‘out’ the folk who look like that are still by and large stuck with it – it’s not like changing one’s wardrobe!!

    And it doesn’t reflect the nature of sexual selection, which is only so height&build-focused in the case of fetishists, and media exposure is certain to increase fetish development. When Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez were big new stars everything everywhere was ‘ass, ass, ass’ – I like ass but the fixation is just stupid. Ass-as-ephemeral-trend is not something I can relate to. Ass is forever. Ha ha.

  83. says

    I think age is another factor. Leading men can be ANY age and get it on with much younger women. This is never the case in reverse.

    And, these ‘standards’ seep into UK TV too. Ancient, old, codgers like Terry Wogan (71) and Bruce Forsyth (81) always have pretty, young, co-presenters only a half their age on their arm, eg: Tess Daly (38). Whilst older female presenters just get less and less work. Why not have Gloria Hunniford (69) paired with Wogan??? Or, a cute male presenter half her age? It just wouldn’t happen would it?

  84. Sara says

    You forgot perfect skin! Both genders have to have perfect skin to make it in Hollywood.

    I’ve always dreamed of being a TV actress, but I know I’d have to compromise most of my morals, allow myself to be treated like crap, and lose twenty to thirty pounds to land any sort of job.

    This was an interesting and very true list, and it gave me an opportunity to review my list of requirements for male/female characters on TV (other media are a different story).

    * It always bugs me that all female characters ever look like they’re in their twenties, so I judge a female character poorly if she looks to be in her twenties. I like older actresses.

    * If she’s anything above a size 4, I automatically get distracted and start irrationally judging her for the worse. The same if they’re below a size zero.

    * Bad teeth are bad.

    * She has to have nice boobs. But she shouldn’t show them off.

    * She can’t dress too scantily or I stop suspending my disbelief. (It’s hard for me to believe in Seven of Nine, for example. Even though she’s an interesting character.)

    * She has to have a good character with a well-developed past or I stop paying attention to her.

    These are generally my automatic requirements for females in TV series. Here are mine for males:

    * They have to be smart or very skilled. If they’re not smart, I immediately disregard them.

    * Honesty and sincerity are required.

    * They have to be complex.

    Weird that I have all these physical requirements for female roles on TV and my requirements for male roles are mind-based. I think it’s because if females don’t fit the requirements I’ve listed, they look very out of place and are therefore distracting. I think the other thing is that I feel like if they aren’t traditionally attractive, they have no right to be there (I’m not sure where this comes from). At the same time, I’m desperate for TV shows to include “unattractive” females in important roles. It’s a weird dichotomy in my brain between my social conditioning and my desire for equality between the sexes.

    It also bugs me that every character (be they male or female) on practically every show is unmarried. And they’re all between 25 and 50. Why is everyone single??

  85. says

    Actually, Sara, LOADS of actors have “terrible” skin – lots of facial bumps, acne scars, etc. This became really obvious after they started filming digitally and transferring film onto DVDs, and it was like WHOA look at the flaws! I remember this vividly, because I have skin problems myself and it made me feel SO much more beautiful to realize all these years, they couldn’t find *that* many people with flawless skin, they’d just been covering it with makeup, lighting and good cinematography. And now that digital is established, they’re usually able to mask it once more – but trust me, they don’t have flawless skin.

    Except for Jada Pinkett Smith. I saw her once at a nightclub under good enough lighting to reveal bumps or irregularities, and lord have mercy, her cheeks look like velvet. :D

  86. Maria says

    I think it’s more okay for actors to have bad skin than it is for actresses… I’m thinking of how wrinkly Clooney’s gotten, House’s face in general, Edward James Olmos, etc.

  87. says

    Maria, that sounds right. You never see visible acne scars on actresses. And while signs of aging are discouraged for men as well as women in acting, the men frequently continue getting good roles despite it.

  88. Patrick says

    I can think of a grand total of two actresses with facial scars: Tina Fey and Gina Carano. Note that both are a) absolutely gorgeous, and b) started acting after becoming famous in another field (Fey as a writer, Carano as a mixed martial arts champion).

  89. says

    I thought Sharon Stone had a large scar across her throat (which she’s claimed was due to a childhood accident on a talk show I was watching). She usually covered it up off-set with a scarf.

  90. Heather says

    I’m glad to have come across this post. You’re right. And I think it is a good thing that we’re beginning to sense people actually getting angry about it. This kind of anger can shift our collective consciousness, and motivate us to change things.

    But there are only two ways to actively change this:

    1. Personally create work that showcases women as real-life individuals with worthy stories

    and/or

    2. $upport work that aligns with those interests. Your pocketbook is your loudest voice.

    • says

      Hate to burst your bubble, but actually those are less effective than you think:

      (1) Such works will be shunted into the “indie” section, where they are understood to represent some weird little niche, and not apply in any way to the status quo, because everyone knows that’s impossible, anyway.

      (2) Why women can’t vote with their dollars explains why our choices are also deliberately interpreted to support that the status quo is the only way of doing things. Also, how can you support work that aligns with your interests if no mainstream films do so? Sure, you can go see indies, but see #1.

      I don’t mean to be discouraging. We just get this response a lot and, unfortunately, it’s the naive attitude that brought me to Hollywood, and I learned the hard way how wrong I was. I think actually the collective consciousness shifting anger might do more good, since a lot of film pros – particularly younger ones who will be more powerful in a few years – are reading the internet to get the pulse of the audience.

  91. Casey says

    I’m watching Silent Library: Celebrity Edition (although the people they get for that show barely constitute celeb status, IMHO) and the cast of the ATROCIOUS MTV show “The Hard Times of RJ Berger” are on there. All the male cast members look like basement-dwelling trolls (except for one generically handsome “jocky” guy) and the two female cast members adhere COMPLETELY to the requirements you listed…(why didn’t they have the “ugly” girl as a contestant? And by “ugly” I mean vaguely Asian-looking and not a size 0)

    Why am I still enraged by this shit? V_V

  92. Quib says

    I feel like we might be starting to move this direction. (It’s still hugely imbalanced, and the standards of attractiveness are still ones that empower men and diminish women). Things like the casting of The Hunger Games, and the handful of action movies about A Blond Guy (like the Star Trek reboot, and… was Avatar dude blond? I don’t remember or care), kinda give me the impression that forgettably-aesthetically-pleasing actors are on the rise. Part of it could just be that B-movies and mid budget action/teen movies have always trended towards the bland and sexy, but those types of movies also seem to be gaining respectability.
    It also might partly be that I’m disappointed that a book for young people is being adapted into a movie for young people instead of exactly what I would want it to be, but I’m pretty annoyed at the casting of teenagers Gale and Peeta, a scrawny, malnourished, hunter, and the slightly pudgy son of a baker, as shiny, buff 20 somethings.
    I blame Twilight for that one.

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