I Just Finished Reading These Descriptions For Female Movie Characters, And Men Should Be Canceled
So, earlier today, I was browsing the Twitterverse, as one does, and came across Vulture's article called "How 50 Female Characters Were Described In Their Screenplays."
The article, written by Kyle Buchanan and Jordan Crucchiola, does a really cool deep dive into iconic movies and how their female characters (like, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman) are described in screenplays, usually before an actress has even been cast.
But, as I kept reading I started to notice a similarity in the descriptions — every woman was described as "subtly pretty" or "pretty but doesn't know it." Which is literally like all of those rom-coms where women take off their glasses and are suddenly Victoria's Secret models or something.
Here are a few, including Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride...
Buttercup is in her late teens; doesn’t care much about clothes and she hates brushing her long hair, so she isn’t as attractive as she might be, but she’s still probably the most beautiful woman in the world.
...Helen Tasker from True Lies...
To call her plain would be inaccurate. She could be attractive if she put any effort into it, which doesn’t occur to her.
...and Eilis from Brooklyn.
One of the front doors opens, and out slips EILIS — early twenties, open-faced pretty without knowing it.
Like, this really grinds my gears! Why can't women be gorgeous AND confident in their looks? I mean, I think most actresses bring that sort of badassery to their characters anyway, but why aren't they written that way?!?
The authors point this out in the piece as well, and it turns out it even has a name — the GoldiLocks Effect. The authors write:
Many screenplays try to hedge their female character’s beauty, lest she seem so gorgeous as to be unattainable. Perhaps the woman doesn’t know how pretty she is, or there’s a slight imperfection added to make her relatable. The exact calibration of these female characters’ beauty begs a reference to Goldilocks: They’re hot, but not too hot.