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Why do they all look the same?

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WTF did they do to Penelope Cruz? Take a look at this magazine cover. I picked it up in the beauty salon yesterday and if I hadn’t read the headline next to her photo, I never would have recognized her. The first time I remember seeing Cruz was in All About My Mother. She played a nun, wore a minimum of makeup and dowdy clothes and looked fabulous. She looked like a beautiful woman with an unconventional nose, big dark eyes and lustrous dark wavy hair. Now she looks like everyone else.

Look I know they’re going to erase the zits, fiddle with the hair and change a shadow or two, but her face doesn’t look real anymore. It looks like a mask (the full effect of which you probably can’t see in this reproduction).


The gripe against the fashion/beauty/industrial complex used to be that ethnic girls weren’t allowed in. Then came Iman in 1975 and the barriers broke down. iman But at some point in the intervening years, Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Iman and Naomi Campbell were all put in a blender and the ideal became some sort of a composite and the reality is you can’t tell one from another.

Part of the problem seems to be the ease with which flaws can be erased via computer, so that editors can “correct” any deficiencies that might distinguish one face from another. Nose too wide, let’s narrow it a little. While you’re at it, do something about those cheeks. Plastic surgery has played a role, too. (And I’m not even going to get into the improbable bodies this has created.)

But the real culprits are the stylists. It was as though a memo came down 10 years ago that decreed all women should have long stick-straight hair. And so it was. Andie McDowall, Julianna Margulies and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss suddenly were blown-dry to within an inch of their lives. Now the memo has decreed that big hair is back–and everyone must have blonde highlights. Beyonce, meet Penelope Cruz. beyonce

And so it went with fashion, too. Movie stars, no longer schooled by the studios on dress and deportment, took their cues from Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily and hired stylists to ensure that they didn’t look foolish come the Oscar’s. Now one year they all wear vintage, the next they all wear white. Gone are the days when Cher showed up looking like a chandelier and while there are missteps, mostly it’s just boring.

It wasn’t always this way. Audrey Hepburn didn’t look like Katherine Hepburn or her contemporary, Grace Kelly. Claudette Colbert didn’t look like Jean Harlow. Rita Hayworth didn’t look like Lauren Bacall. And what the heck would the beauthy/fashion/industrial complex have done to Gene Tierney’s overbite?

You get my drift.

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About Rachel

  • I agree that things are out of hand and people have an unrealistic view of what women should look like. Just last night I had someone give me grief over the picture on my profile…I thought it was a blog, not a beauty contest. (I think I’m okay looking and so does the Indian Guy at Quiznos who wants to lay some Kama Sutra on me!)

    I have to admit that I like the Penelope Cruz cover and expect that look for the high fashion magazines. I expect them to be over-the-top.

    But, yeah, I wish people would be more accepting of other people. I think they stole Britney Murphy and replaced her with some anorexic pod person.

  • I expect models and movie stars to be prettier and thinner than the rest of us. I do, however, expect them to look like human beings. You can’t see it from the post, but her face has an odd masklike quality. Also, the thing about her is that she didn’t, initially, look like everyone else. Now they’re morphing her into a mannequin.

  • These images fail their purpose if they look too real. Their central function is to make everybody who sees them feel crushing inadequacy, a despair which can never be fully remedied, but can be dulled for a time through purchasing products which would be instantly recognized as wholly worthless by any person not under the spell of consumer inadequacy.

    That’s my impression.

  • I’m with you Rachel. When I first saw Penelope Cruz, I was struck by her delicate beauty. I think she’s had her lips pumped up now. She has an elfin charm that gets lost when they put heavy makeup on her. They should change the format for her if she’s on a magazine cover.

    Homogenized, idealized, formulaic ideals of beauty do all kinds of screwed up things to people.

  • Got it in one, Cerulean. Why this need to improve on what’s already there. Audrey Hepburn was Audrey Hepburn. She didn’t need no stinkin’ touch ups.

  • I’ll toss out one modern person that I think is contrary to what is believed here. How about Thandie Newton? If there’s anyone that eminates an Audrey Hepburn like quality today, it is her.

  • Thandie Newton certainly doesn’t look like anyone else. But I wonder what they’d do to her on the cover of Vogue. And I don’t recall seeing her on red carpet either.

  • OK, here is the real Thandie and here is the glammed Thandie and here is the red-carpet Thandie. All are nice, and Ms. Newton isn’t nearly as fake as most of those celeb types, but I think the real Thandie is the best Thandie.

  • kz

    I love Audrey Hepburn and I love Thandie Newton. And I agree, Thandie Newton is the 21st century version of Audrey Hepburn.

    Like Audrey, Thandie has a natural beauty and simple elegance that comes from within and that she is able to project to her audiences.

    Her slender, deceptively fragile frame, is accompanied with a sharp wit (she graduated from Cambridge with a 2.1, which is the equivalent of a 3.5 GPA in the U.S.) and dancer’s grace.

    Unlike Audrey, she is also sexy (in MI2 she was rockin’) , which is really a requirement for actresses in today’s entertainment industry.

    For all of these things, I pick her as the next AH. Now, let’s hope that Hollywood finally wakes up.

    Oh, and she still looks great even after 2 kids.

  • The Cambridge thing is hot and I love hearing about the few celebrities who ARE smart who succeed in acting and modeling, but she’s not that hot and doesn’t really look at all like Audrey Hepburn.

    Thandie Newton is a real woman. Audrey Hepburn was the perpetual girl, too childish and dainty for life in the adult world.

    The last picture Natalie links to is the best.

    How old is she? She doesn’t look like she’s just starting out.

    That is all.

  • mindy

    Hmm…depends on your definition of a “real woman”. Audrey Hepburn is a timeless figure, has been long after her death. She had femininity & sophistication. Thandie Newton has been acting for a while, she’s 33 years old. She’s a Scorpio, like me! *smiles*

    She hasn’t been as well recognized in the United States as Halle Berry, though. She is cute, I’ll give her that.

  • I think the problem lies with the term “deficiencies.” Who is to say that a certain nose or a certain mouth width is deficient? And why are people so willing to accept that what they have is supposedly deficient. It’s all crap. Give me one of the women in the Campaign for Real Beauty ads any day. Makeup? Size-zero clothes? Highlights? Crap.

  • kz

    Bob, I agree that Newton is a woman whereas Hepburn was a waif.

    However they both are able to convey a grace and elegance in way that is very similar – they both were able to project a regal aire without being snobbish.

    Here are some more pics.

    The first one is from a 2005 interview, less than 8 months after her second baby. It is for an informal interview in which she is wearing no makeup.

    The 2nd is from a 2003 magazine article.

    The last one is from her 2003-2004 appearance on ER.




  • Steve

    I agree with Natalie, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, people should NOT be trying to look like someone else, they should just be themselves. Whenever I see a woman with lots of make-up on, I don’t say, wow, she’s beautiful, I say, I wonder what she’s hiding under all that make-up??? I think it’s sad that deception is such a highly prized commodity in N. American society these days.