By Irene Cohen and Ellie Mulvaney
Since Hollywood’s creation in 1910, this film industry has been a huge source of influence for its audience. It is currently the most dominating movie production agency in the world, and often is used as a representation of Americans, regardless of this image’s attainability. This becomes an issue when it is taken into consideration just how unrealistic the beauty standards in Hollywood are. It’s incredibly damaging for people to compare themselves to these famous figures, when the actors themselves struggle to fit the paragon of how they should look.
One example of this is one of Hollywood’s biggest icons; Marilyn Monroe. It was discovered that the actress had multiple plastic surgeries in secret with Dr. Michael Gurdin, and a few of his colleagues, throughout her years in the spotlight. The image that she projected onto young, impressionable women, was one that she herself didn’t even naturally have.
Of course, getting plastic surgery is not inherently harmful, but it further perpetuates unrealistic standards when it is not explicitly stated that certain features are artificial. Monroe went through chin, nose, and breast alterations, as reported by her medical records, where she got the surgeries using a cover name. Obviously, great lengths were taken to conceal the fact that her appearance was not completely natural, which consequently implied to her audience that they were expected to organically look like the figures that they saw on screen.
Monroe was praised as the ideal woman, though she herself went to extreme lengths just to fit the crazy Hollywood norms. She once stated, “When my looks start to go, so will most of my fans,” proving just how image-based the film industry is.
Another example from the past, was John Travolta’s transformation for the John Woo film ‘Broken Arrow,’ in the 1990’s. As a military officer, his character required him to lose around 20 pounds in a few weeks by boxing and dieting. Even at the age of 40, he was under scrutiny for his weight, influencing viewers to potentially not recognize the impacts of aging on the body. For everyone to think that they should look like, and weigh as much as, a young adult, even in their midlife years, is a damaging ideology that Hollywood has dangerously promoted.
One more recent example of this comes from actress Carrie Fisher. One might think that she may have gotten criticism for her weight when she was still a young, unknown actress, but now that she has achieved a legendary status, studios would want to book her regardless of her weight. Right? Turns out, this is not the case.
Fisher opened up about how she was forced to lose 35 pound to be cast as her renowned role as Princess Leia in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ Carrie Fisher had this to say after she was pressured to lose weight, “Nothing changes, it’s an appearance-driven thing.” You can clearly see why she said this especially with the history she has with the Star Wars franchise telling her to lose weight for her role. All the way back in 1977, when she was just 19 years old, and 105 pounds, producers still asked her to lose weight for her role as Princess Leia. Fisher was too right with this quote, and many actors and actresses can attest to that fact.
This pressure to be thin in Hollywood is not only thrust upon actresses, but actors as well. One Richard Madden speaks out on this fact. In one British Vogue interview he says, “I find myself with actor friends – after we’ve done a kind of barely eating, working-out-twice-a-day, no-carbing thing for these scenes – looking at each other going: ‘We’re just feeding this same s*** that we’re against.’”
He also goes on to say that he’s had his body rolls pinched at auditions, corset-like costumes to slim him down for the cameras, and flat out been told to lose weight and to go to the gym. In his interview, he clearly says that how he is filmed is not how he usually looks. The preparation he does for these scenes is not sustainable nor realistic, but many men may see these scenes and think to themselves, why don’t I look like that?