Hollywood has a terrible habit of constantly reminding women about the patriarchy that is pervasive in today’s society. Take for example the trending topic in recent years that women aren’t funny said by the likes of Adam Corolla, Jerry Lewis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Or how the media obsessively idealizes a singular and often unrealistic body type that becomes culpable for encouraging the extreme measures needed to achieve this image. Well, there are strong female power players in the industry who are fighting the good fight against Hollywood’s obtuse misconception of what it means to be a woman.
Vogue, the fashion bible, had a refreshing anomalistic cover girl for their February issue: Lena Dunham. It is wonderful to see a different type of beautiful on a major publication. And yes, there was a great deal of negative reactions, especially from the website Jezebel, but that does not discount how sociologically significant it is to see Dunham on a magazine that establishes trends because this can hopefully serve as a catalyst for portraying the diversification of beauty commonplace. What also made this an important event for women was Lena Dunham’s calm presence in the midst of controversy, a plague that is not new for this positive-image darling. She made no apologies for who she is and for her appearance. She then handled herself with absolute grace when a reporter condemned her a few weeks ago about frequent nudity on her show, “Girls” to which she veraciously responded, “Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem.”
Other women have been on the attack against the media’s unrealistic body expectations. A notable instance is when Jennifer Lawrence declared in Harper’s Bazaar UK that she refuses to become skinnier, even if that meant she could lose jobs over her weight. Another example of recent body-positive image news is when Gabourey Sidibe humorously addressed critics about her appearance via Twitter: “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK.” Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson also recently made body-positive contributions when they formed a support group to prevent one another from falling victim to Hollywood’s skinny obsession.
Sasheer Zamata, the first black woman on “Saturday Night Live” since 2007, fought against the patriarchy with her recent hilarious debut. Kenan Thompson remarked earlier this year that there are no black women on the staff because there are no black female comedians ready for the show—a classic example of people inaccurately blaming the system for the lack of diversity. Well, Zamata proved him and many disbelievers wrong with her evident talent.
Hollywood is a tough place for women, and consequently, women everywhere. But the aforementioned women are changing societal attitudes that “beauty is only defined as skinny” and “women are not funny.” Women in Hollywood are off to a good start in 2014.