Image Is Everything

I found myself watching the 2006 Teen Choice Awards recently. Don’t ask me why; I’m embarrassed to admit there was actually a reason.

The award for “Best Hottie” came up and winners announced. Jessica Alba won for the women, and when she got up to claim her prize she started thanking her trainer, her manicurist, her hairstylist, etc., etc., and finished by making her point. To paraphrase: This is all image. It’s not real. What’s truly hot is being yourself.

It’s an admirable message, of course. Β I don’t have take an issue with it in and of itself. Jessica, however, was telling all the impressionable girls in the audience to do as she says, not as she herself does. Wouldn’t it be a more admirable and convincing message for her to practice what she preaches?


  1. scarlett says

    Actually, one of the things I really LIKE about the teen choice awards is they’re a lot more honest then the Oscars – for them, it really IS just about who’s hottest, made the most money etc.

  2. sbg says

    Okay, but my post wasn’t really about how bad the teen choice awards are. It was about the “practice what I preach, not what I do” tidbit Jessica Alba said. I’m also, btw, not disputing her hotness. She’s gorgeous. I’d be willing to bet she’d be gorgeous without her entourage as well. πŸ˜‰

  3. says

    I’m sure she would be – but she might not be employable. She does make her living off her image, so it makes sense that she needs to keep it competitive with what else is out there.

    I do like the idea of a gorgeous young actress dropping all the trappings and showing the world that she’s still gorgeous, though. Maybe someday!

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    No, she wouldn’t be employable – but why not? Since Hollywood says they only give the audience what it wants, and the only audience that counts is young men, then presumably Hollywood thinks young men wouldn’t look at Alba if she didn’t look glamorous and styled as well as gorgeous.

    Once again – as with the issue of actresses losing icky amounts of weight – I have to question whether this is really what young men want to see. Maybe it’s just a holdover from an earlier time that no one’s thought to revisit. Or I could be mistaken. Maybe metallic lip gloss and hair highlights are something our young men spend an awful lot of time thinking about. πŸ˜‰

  5. Mecha says

    Speaking from the ‘has actually applied a limited amount of cosmetics with their own hands’ front, if lots of other men are thinking about lip gloss and hair highlights, I’m missing the memo. πŸ˜‰


  6. sbg says

    I was going to say that I found it hard to imagine a guy fantasizing about what lipstick choice his favorite celeb might wear next.

  7. sbg says

    It’s so strange. I wonder how much of that is true. It’s lovely to look upon someone well put together, but shouldn’t it be just as nice to look upon something that’s not an affectation? To me, Alba was flat out saying that everything that had won her the award wasn’t real. (I don’t believe that’s true, btw, because she is hot.)

    I don’t know. I guess I have always held this belief that it’s better to see the person, and not the make-up.

  8. Glaivester says

    WhatÒ€ℒs truly hot is being yourself.

    That depends entirely on who you are. Granted, some people who are attractive do a lot of things to “enhance” their attractiveness that tehy could probably do without (I remember that I always found Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5 (played by Claudia Christian) more attractive without visible make-up and with straight, un-made-up hair), but I don’t think that everyone is physically attractive, and some people definitely would be more physically attractive if they altered themselves, either through style or plastic surgery.

    The very message “what’s truly hot is being yourself” is not just hypocritical, but it is not entirely true.

  9. Revena says

    I think if you consider hotness as a relative thing, the message is far more true than not.

    There is more to attraction than physical appearance, for one thing. And probably there are people that you wouldn’t be attracted to unless they altered their appearance that other people would be attracted to, right? People have lots of different tastes.

  10. Revena says

    Oh, definitely – but it would be a major financial risk for someone like Jessica Alba to take, to see if she couldn’t prove the conventional wisdom wrong.

    Maybe we could take up a collection. πŸ˜‰

  11. sbg says

    Indeed, and I honestly don’t think she was speaking of hotness as a physical thing, even though that was the award she won. The message in itself was a good one, of course.

    There is something to be said about being confident in yourself – I have known some very ‘average-looking’ people who have this magnetism and allure because they’re so comfortable with who they are. You shouldn’t need the crutches of expertly applied make-up, your own personal hairstylist, etc. to be who you are. Yeah, yeah, it’s Hollywood.

    Having just watched Dark Angel tonight and seen Alba not overly glammed up – she could do it. I don’t think she ever would for all the reasons given already, but she could.

    It doesn’t help that tabloids and paparazzi probably harrass these folks to catch them looking like crap – aka, like normal people trying to lead somewhat normal lives.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think they used to, actually. In the 30’s and 40’s, you needed talent. They figured beauty could be supplied by all those people Alba is crediting, even if you were far from a natural beauty – or noticeably off from the ideal weight du jour. And then the press took it from there.

    I think what changed was the late 70’s influx of MBA’s who had no love for art.

  13. Jennifer Kesler says

    Exactly! The only thought I’ve ever heard a guy express about makeup is, “Could you wipe that goopy stuff off so I can kiss you?” πŸ˜€

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s why we’re here, trying to spawn a movement to prove that Sharon Stone really did kick ass in her Gap t-shirt and casual wear at the Oscars that time. πŸ˜‰

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    I agree. I mean, if I felt differently, I’d be pushing for MEN to wear makeup and look better, too.

    I want people to look like people.

  16. Jennifer Kesler says

    So you subscribe to the idea that there is One Truly Hot look, and what’s unattractive to you can’t possibly be attractive to someone else? Your marketing overlords are very pleased with you. πŸ˜‰

    I’m sure some people think Claudia Black’s nose is ugly and wonder why she doesn’t “get that taken care of”. Joanna Lumley was advised by professionals she was “too ugly” to be a model. Both of these woman are stunningly attractive to some very devoted male fans. Why? Well, maybe because they didn’t let that stop them and they each have enough energy, confidence and personality to blow out a camera lens. Interestingly, neither grew up in the States nor started in HW, which might be why they have self-esteem. πŸ˜‰

  17. sbg says

    Heh. Now, if I made the kind of cash folks have made by this point in their celebrity lives, I would have been saving and investing like nobody’s business. If I started out playing the game just so I could succeed, I’d do it only long enough for that and then I’d probably give a gigantic “fuck you” and wear cheap Target T-shirts and flip flops only. πŸ˜‰

  18. sbg says

    I caught bits of the Emmys (Okay, so I really do enjoy looking at the pretty dresses!) and noticed a number of men who’d clearly had their hair dyed recently. Ray Liotta now has super-dark hair again, for instance, and Victor Garber went from grey to brown.

    But none of the guys had massive amounts of eyeliner on. Or lipstick. πŸ˜‰

  19. Glaivester says

    So you subscribe to the idea that there is One Truly Hot look, and whatÒ€ℒs unattractive to you canÒ€ℒt possibly be attractive to someone else?

    I’m not saying that there is only One Truly Hot Look. People do have different preferences. But these preferences are correlated. Very few men find Roseanne Barr as attractive as, say, Cindy Crawford. Thre may be disagreement over whether or not Marilu Henner, for example, is as attractive as Jeri Ryan. But very few men under, say, 35, are going to say that they had hot sexual thoughts about Golden Girls-era Bea Arthur, Airheads notwithstanding.

    Add 200 pounds to either Lumley or Black, and I have a feeling that a lot fewer men would find them attractive.

    I am not saying that women should be obsessed with their looks or should get plastic surgery to “look prettier.” Physical attractiveness isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. But the idea that there is no “hierarchy of attractiveness” at all, or that everyone is equally beautiful, or that everyone is beautiful, seems to me to be wishful thinking.

  20. Jennifer Kesler says

    Alba never said everyone looks beautiful: what she said was that being yourself is an even more important component of attractiveness than looking hot. If you met the woman of your dreams, but she looked like Bea Arthur, would you be unable to want her sexually? How sad is that? Women manage to look past looks and find men sexy because they’re funny, intelligent, admirable, etc. If you’re arguing that men lack this function, who needs “feminazis” denigrating men? You guys so often take care of it all by yourselves. πŸ˜‰

  21. sbg says

    There is also, I think, a pretty big difference between not imaging yourself by using hairstylists, personal trainers, personal chefs, make up artists and gaining 200 lbs.

    And even someone who is overweight can be sexy, believe it or not. The lead singer of The Gossip is a larger woman. She’s hot, IMO. She works what she’s got to full advantage, both in style and attitude (and voice, oh, my, in voice).

  22. Jennifer Kesler says

    Not only can overweight people be sexy, they can actually be quite good-looking. Greg Grunberg (Weiss from Alias) is because the guy’s definitely chunky, but I think he’s just beautiful, and an informal poll among friends revealed I’m not the only one.

    And beyond that, people who just really aren’t good-looking at all can still be sexy as hell. Sense of humor, confidence, intelligence, love of life… a tight tushy may not last forever, but those traits do.

    A young man I know recently told me, “If a woman’s fat, she can lose the weight. If she’s got excess hair, they can remove that. If she’s got a weird nose, I can learn to live with it. But if she’s stupid, there’s no cure for that.” Nice insight. πŸ˜‰

  23. SunlessNick says

    Also, while thanking her trainer was cool of her, but persumably Alba herself put work in there, so she deserves that part to be considered real.

  24. SunlessNick says

    And these days, it’s assumed beauty can make up for lack of talent. At least in the eyes of the male audience they care about.

    But why do the execs find it so hard to grasp that males can find talent itself beautiful?

  25. Jennifer Kesler says

    Because the MBA’s who now run the industry can’t measure talent with in numbers. Therefore, they can’t allow it to be part of the decision-making process behind film and TV.

    “Metallic lip gloss boosts ratings one-tenth of a point”, they can measure. πŸ˜‰

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