I’ve been watching the DVD extras for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and they have interviews with the makeup artist who creates all the funky looks for various species of aliens on that show. He refers often to conversations in which the producers tell him they’ve hired a “pretty girl”, so he needs to “keep her pretty”. So he’ll do just a little forehead ridge or some wrinkly stuff at the bridge of the nose, or some tattoo work – nothing that would distort her eyes, cheekbones or mouth from looking human and traditionally attractive.
No, this is not the most appalling instance of misogyny I’ve come across. It’s just one example of those very subtle things that can make you think an actress is less talented than her male counterpart in a similar role. Even in sci-fi, with characters who aren’t supposed to be human, producers are more concerned about an actress’ visual appeal to the audience than they are with the character’s visual integration into a story.