There is something fundamentally wrong with our beauty expectations for celebrities. Though they are human like the rest of us, the way we judge their appearances is completely distorted — this distortion is especially obvious when comparing male and female celebrities.
Because the Internet is still buzzing with Oscar excitement and the final verdicts on best and worst dressed, I have decided to explain my denunciations with the help of three jokes from this past award season that were very relevant to the issue at hand.
Ellen DeGeneres in an Oscar promo: “Watch me at the Oscars. Side effects may include laughter, tears, urge to have a party with friends, ability to critique beautiful women in expensive gowns.”
While DeGeneres’ last side effect is definitely more frequent during award season, it is also something that stays with us throughout the entire year. We consider ourselves to be unofficial fashion police and use unattainable and confusing standards to criticize gorgeous celebrities. If we compare ourselves to celebrities, then who are we comparing them to? Our expectations for them to be perfect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — or at least every moment a camera is on them — are completely unrealistic. They also lead us into a dangerous area of hypocrisy when we further complain about the media’s unrealistic beauty expectations for us.
Tina Fey at the Golden Globes: “Matthew McConaughey did amazing work this year. For his role in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, he lost 45 pounds, or what actresses call being in a movie.”
Additionally, there is a disparity between what is expected from an actor as opposed to what is expected from an actress. Fey’s words were clearly a joke, but their resonance extends to an issue far deeper than expected body weights. If an actor is caught off-duty, sweaty and with baggy clothes, he is just working out or relaxing — it completely fine for him to be dressed however he wants. But when an actress is caught in a similar outfit, she is accused of letting herself go, dressing like a hobo or needing an immediate makeover. It reduces a female celebrity’s worth to nothing more than her body, and for that, we as a society are horribly flawed.
Jimmy Kimmel in his Oscar bit: “All I’m saying is: those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, because you will ruin your house!”
During the red carpet at the Oscars, Kimmel aired a skit where he confronted mean Tweeters for their criticisms of celebrities’ looks, a special edition, if you will, of his recurring “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” bit, where words like fat and ugly are casually thrown around.
Hollywood may be an idealistic place, and being beautiful may be an important part of the job, but like any other employees, celebrities deserve days off, days when cameras and millions of strangers won’t criticize them because of their clothing choice.
As the public, we are so busy thinking about how celebrity beauty standards affect us that we forget to stop and think about how they affect them. We end up adding fuel to the fire and triggering the never-ending beauty standard cycle — the more we expect from celebrities, the more magazines and media will portray celebrities as perfect. And the more perfect they seem to us in magazines and media, the more we’ll feel the world is demanding perfection from us.
Lorena Tamez is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.