I Miss Pretty

Standing in line at the supermarket, like everyone else I glance over the tabloids and sorta-tabloids that are in every checkout aisle.

I was struck by the army of Barbie dolls on offer from Hollywood. Not based on any real study or statistical analysis, but I would say that the top traits required to be of interest to Hollywood right now (for a woman) would be something like:

– Blonde

– Above average bustiness

– 25 or younger

– loooonnnnng legs

– great bikini shots (current or old).

*Sigh* When did starlets get so, well, vanilla? Would Halle Berry, Demi Moore or even Jennifer Aniston make it in today’s market?

I figured out what bored me with this crop of interchangeable blondies. They are without exception “hot”. Well, some might be considered “smokin’ hot”.

Not pretty, elegant, classy, intriguing or even beautiful. Just Hot. And even more upsettingly – barring Kim Kardashian and her sisters – is everyone white and blonde?

When did we get so boring?

I am not suggesting hotness as a trait is boring, just that it is limiting. We have confined ourselves over the course of the last few years to a dialog with a single theme around female attractiveness. So instead of the Bazaar approach (something for everyone), we now have perfectly wonderful looking women trying to stuff themselves into a diminished mode, a smaller space, a more containable (and more easily reproduced) format. Don’t be interesting, cute, unique or stunning – go for hot and you can work in Sport Illustrated for at least a year before some one hotter comes along.

I find myself in the really awful position of congratulating the fashion industry on their refusal to espouse this trend. There are still extremely interesting looking people adorning runways and Vogue magazines everywhere. Granted, far too many of them look like they have escaped from concentration camps – but they are not clones either.

The variety seems to have stopped in the age group that is now in their thirties. The blondification trend started probably around Reese Witherspoon (although you still had lovely people like Liv Tyler around, but she is Rock Royalty and that’s different). But starting about five years ago – the Jennifer Garners were getting rarer and rarer.

I work in NYC, so walking the streets, I see the gene pool we have available. We come in every flavor from very pale (sometimes freckled) vanilla to a rich chocolate to lovely shades of caramel. Does Hollywood think the full spectrum of female doesn’t qualify for hot anymore? We do a pretty good job of diversity in so many areas, I don’t like the message this blonde onslaught is sending to lovely Latina, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Somali, English or Mediterranean women (and the zillions of others).

Granted old Hollywood had a certain mystique only possible in an era of controlled exposure. But the stars in the firmament were quite something – Grega Garbo, Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, Katherine Hepburn, Rita Hayworth. The later crop with Doris Day and Sandra Dee, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor.

What does this mean for the average woman who isn’t Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe or even Reese Witherspoon?

If we assume that these images of beauty are being consumed without bias by the male population, the bar didn’t get raised so much as lowered and moved. I would like to give our male counterparts more credit – we know they aren’t as open-minded as we are (look no further than Katherine Zeta Jones for evidence of that) – but I don’t think they really believe they want to subsist on a visual diet of interchangeable blondes either.

The Southern Belle in me is troubled more for the girls in the under twenty category. The beautiful brunettes, redheads, non-curvy blondes, women under 5’10” or above size 2 – who are being told by too many magazine editors that they don’t match to our current idea of attractive. Really?

I feed my three girls a steady diet of My Fair Lady, Cleopatra, and Casablanca. I’m not suggesting the leading ladies in these films are any less polished up, real or representative of the housewives and nurses and teachers who eagerly watched them when they were in their heyday. But they are different. They are not cookie-cutter: classic beauty, stunning gorgeousness, exotic elegance. Add Singing in the Rain and you have wholesome prettiness. That’s a menu worth sampling from.

I miss Pretty. I hope Hollywood gets bored of their equivalent of the Cabbage Soup diet quickly and serves up some more varied fare.

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