A friend sent me a quote from a recent edition of Entertainment Weekly, wherein they’ve reunited the cast of Aliens for interviews and photos:
The 62-year-old actress still scoffs at how the costume designers tried to dress her in a light blue shirt with pink embroidery. Fortunately, she uncovered a closet full of old NASA uniforms at Pinewood Studios in England and found an asexual flight suit that “fit me like a glove,” she recalls. “I feel sad for other women who are playing action heroes in these [skimpy] costumes. [snip to get to the rest of the quote] They need to wear what’s practical. Yes, Ripley’s a woman, and women are always underestimated as hysterical people with no courage. But Ripley has tremendous strength and determination.”
Remember my theory that the trick to building a successful action franchise with a female lead is not sexing her up? Sigourney Weaver gets it: in reality, a woman who’s capable of doing what Ripley does would dress like Ripley. She wouldn’t spend a lot of time on makeup or her hair or her nails. She’d go with a low maintenance appearance and something comfortable and utilitarian. And as we’ve seen in the years since, military women in combat zones don’t find ways to shrink their t-shirts or get Mac makeup imported to countries that don’t sell it or look for the best hairdresser in whatever country they’re stationed. Admittedly, they aren’t even allowed to do those things – but really, who wants to fight alongside someone, male or female, who’s more focused on touching up their blush than making sure they’re ready for combat? And that’s the impression you form of characters who show up in skimpy costumes with full makeup and perfect hair in fight scenes.