Frock Vs Film: Does Image Trump Acting?

Daisy Cousens

There are many issues associated with Hollywood’s attitude to women and image. The amount of nudity written into female roles, lack of variety in female protagonists and the glaringly obvious absence of female characters 40 plus are at the forefront. However, one aspect also called into question is an off-screen thing, but no less relevant.

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During interviews/press conferences/red carpet appearances, there is a stark contrast in the questions put to actresses and those asked of men. As Emma Stone pointed out; men get asked the “good” questions. How they created the character, what they think about the script and poignant inquiries about research they did when preparing for the role. Women are asked about dieting, how they felt about the costumes and what it was like to play Zac Efron’s love interest.

This discrepancy is also evident on the red carpet. Whether at the Oscars, Emmys, or Golden Globes, the first thing women are asked is: “Who are you wearing?” Men are asked: “Who are you inspired by?” Cate Blanchett drove in the dagger when she questioned a cameraman: “Would you do that to a man?” as he tilted the lens up and down, taking in her outfit. Regardless of the progress actresses are making, their appearance is still the firm and first focus. This raises some questions; should their image have such a huge impact? Should what they’re wearing even be on the list of interviewer inquiries? Should the voyeurism be encouraged?


HEAR ME OUT! Film is a visual art form. Because movies attempt to reflect a version of reality, actresses are cast predominantly on how they look. As such, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to be constantly conscious of image, on or off screen. I have no problem with women being asked about their physicality. I mean, I’m dying to know where I can get (a cheap, almost exact copy of) Nicole Kidman’s 2015 Oscars dress.


The significance of physical appearance, along with the often compulsory weight loss/gain required to ‘look the part’, is most certainly not restricted to women. Yes, Anne Hathaway was told to drop 10kg from her already petite frame to play Fantine in Les Miserables. But remember; Matthew McConaughey lost 17kg to play AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in The Dallas Buyers Club, Bradley Cooper gained 18kg of solid muscle for American Sniper (no easy feat), Neil Patrick Harris lost 10kg for the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, and the list goes on.

This requires months of strict dieting, personal training and cold hard discipline. However, this effort isn’t mentioned nearly as often as it is with women. To ignore a very large chunk of crucial work an actor does absolutely stinks. It’s as bad as neglecting to ask actresses questions about performance.

The same applies on the red carpet. Take Brangelina. Here’s Angelina getting gushed over by the press about her dress, hair, makeup, etc, into which has gone a colossal amount of time, effort, and money. However, there’s Brad standing beside her, looking cut and glossy with an immaculate hairdo, $10,000 suit, real patent leather shoes and everything else that has gone into painstakingly creating his image.

And nobody says a thing.

I am entirely serious when I say this isn’t fair. Here is my solution to the gaping gender discrepancy. Ask women about their appearance, but ask men all the same questions about theirs. In turn, ask actresses about whatever unique method they used to craft a wonderfully complex performance. It’s only fair. In Hollywood, image is 90 per cent of the game, so don’t ignore anyone’s efforts – it’s more difficult and more important than you think.

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