Time to “Get Ugly”

I was perusing through the internet looking for Jennifer Lawrence news  when I stumbled on this article, “It’s Time Jennifer Lawrence Got Ugly.” At first I thought this was going to be a piece about how she needs to stop being so lovely and witty, and start lashing out at the media. Instead, I got an article that said Jennifer Lawrence ACTUALLY had to get ugly, like physically. The author suggests that at some point, beauty stops working in one’s favor because audiences get fed up with “beautiful” actresses being cast over talented ones. She writes, “But there’s a tipping point where good looks can work against you, where the public begins to suspect that you’re cruising by on them alone.”

Jennifer Lawrence first popped on my radar after I watched Winter’s Bone. If you’ve seen it, then you know the movie is ANYTHING but glamorous. Lawrence’s character is poor, starving, and basically doing anything to survive. When I started watching Lawrence’s interviews about the movie, I fell in love with her! Her witty, self-deprecating, humble humor is something we rarely get from movie stars. I bring this up to point out that  I didn’t start liking Jennifer Lawrence for her looks; I like her because of her personality and talent. And I think this is what draws many of her fan base. To say that it’s time for her to get ugly otherwise we’ll leave is just ridiculous.

Why can’t we move past notions of beauty? I think actresses (and actors, alike) who are both beautiful AND talented have nothing to fear. The author’s suggestion that Lawrence transform herself into some ugly character for a film is absurd because it ignores the fact that women can be talented and beautiful. Actresses who get by on their looks alone tend to fade away. But those with talent and beauty (which is already a complex term) shouldn’t have to change how they look just to survive in Hollywood. That’s also what makes Jennifer Lawrence such a fantastic actress.

Also, do we treat men the same way? The author brings up Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale, who both “get ugly” in their latest film American Hustle. She argues that part of the reason their careers are still afloat is because they are willing to abandon their “handsome looks” to show audiences that they are more than just a pretty face. Even if this is true, the situation is different because we don’t subject men to the same standards of beauty that we do to women. Women are constantly shamed for their bodies and they are always asked to transform themselves. I know that oftentimes, Hollywood does require actors/actresses to be somewhat attractive. Maybe it’s time we abandon that notion entirely and start focusing on people’s talents, regardless of the way they look.

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2 thoughts on “Time to “Get Ugly”

  1. Hey Christian, nice article! I recently watched American Hustle, and as per usual, Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job. I’s funny, however, that she would get flak for looking beautiful in this film. I think if you were to look at the role of women in American Hustle, you would see how their beauty is not just a perk but a necessity. Jennifer has no way of supporting herself other than by attracting powerful men with her looks. It’s not admiral; it’s pitiful. That being said, I do think there’s some merit in playing an “ugly” character. Plenty of actors and actresses become and stay famous by being attractive. Very few make it by being simply talented. Therefore, if you can win over people’s hearts without the beautiful face, I think that’s pretty impressive.

  2. The article you referenced is very disappointing, and I completely agree that there is hegemonic belief that an actress cannot be beautiful and talented. Winter’s Bone is one of my favorite movies, and one that inextricably demonstrates Jennifer Lawrence’s talent over her beauty. Considering it was also her first movie the notion that she needs to get ugly seems a bit backwards. Great post!

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