A few days ago, I carved out a bit of “me time” and gave myself a pedicure while watching a chick flick. As all Real Women know, putting life on pause during the day to do this feels a bit like winning the lottery for a couple of hours. It is awesome.
Since I so rarely do this, I struggled a bit as to which movie to watch. I’m a romantic comedy junkie, and have seen them all. I settled on Sabrina. I chose the remake of the original, the one that stars Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear. As a quick refresher, it is the typical Ugly Duckling story, where the painfully awkward teenage girl goes off to France and comes back a beautiful, cultured woman and instantly, of course, both handsome brothers fall for her.
We R.W.’s love this kind of story. Not just because we’ve all at some point fantasized about having our own Cinderella moment where we suddenly become devastatingly gorgeous, but because this type of plot has a bit of revenge in it. That evilly sweet feeling of “you treated me like a loser, now ha ha look what you can’t have.” We all love that moment in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts’ made-over character walks back in to see the snooty shopkeeper and says “You people work on commission, right? Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.”
After watching Sabrina’s transformation by simply getting a hair cut and wearing stylish clothes, I started to think about all of the parts of real transformations that Hollywood leaves out. Later that evening, as I was huffing and puffing and sweating during a workout, I realized that we rarely, if ever, see women on the big screen exercising – unless of course it is part of the plot, like in Flashdance. This is simply because, unlike Jennifer Beals, real women don’t look pretty exercising. Men in movies are a different story – they are constantly in action because when men are working out hard, they look the same, just sweaty. Not us women. Our make-up runs off our faces, we get red, our hair is either jammed back in a haphazard ponytail, or clings wet from sweat on our heads. Not a pretty sight. So in cinema world, women get their perfect figures magically. They aren’t shown busting their asses regularly in a desperate attempt to firm up and lose five pounds. No one wants to see that. Once in a while we’ll see a female character using a treadmill or stationery bike while gently mopping their brow and still looking great, or going out for a seemingly effortless run. For you House of Cards fans out there, Claire regularly goes for a run without a) breaking a sweat or b) wheezing and gasping from being a smoker. Go figure.
Hollywood makes looking amazing easy to achieve. Big screen women don’t spend hours in front of a mirror — even though ironically the real woman behind the role likely did exactly that before getting in front of the camera. Some scenes may show a woman dabbing some powder on her cheeks or applying lipstick while sitting at a beautiful vanity table in front of a huge well-lit mirror, then coyly smiling at her reflection. If the scene was shot realistically, that woman instead would be standing in front of her bathroom mirror in garish light, or peering into her bedroom mirror in poor lighting, going through a lengthy and ritualistic application of multiple anti-aging products and concealers. She would then groan when trying to mask wrinkles or blemishes, then sigh and mutter “its as good as its gonna get” before going on with her day.
While we are at it, shall we discuss the scenes where these flawless women wake up in the morning with sexy hair (not like true morning hair that looks like it spent the night spinning in a blender), a perfect complexion (not sallow or parched dry), and apparently with fresh enough breath to romantically kiss the man next to them. We all know as R.W.’s that the very first step when waking up is going pee (another thing they never seem to need to do), then brushing the scum off our teeth and waiting for our partner to do the same before we even consider something as simple as a kiss.
Oh, and in that make-believe world, getting soaked in a rain storm makes a woman look endearing and adorable (not like a drowned angry rat), and crying on screen somehow comes across as sweet and lovely (not red eyed and contorted).
We escape into these fantasy worlds so we can for a brief time believe that we too can look effortlessly perfect at all times. No one wants to go to the movies or turn on the TV to see the true reality that we see every day. We want to believe that by waving a magic wand, or taking a trip to Europe, or meeting a wealthy man, we can have an instant Cinderella moment.
Sure, any of us can look just as beautiful as any of those women on the big screen. It’s just that in reality, we have to spend a whole lot more time and effort in making it happen. That is, until our Fairy Godmother shows up. I’m still waiting for her. She owes me an awesome pair of shoes.