Perfect and Boring

Image used under a Creative Commons license courtesy of clairegren.

Jezebel says the era of breast implants in Hollywood might be over. SEK, blogging over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, notes that a casting call for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie saying women with implants need not apply, is sexist in its own way: the standard it’s imposing might not be encouraging women to have surgery, but it’s still a criticism of a choice women have every right to make. My concern is that this is just another trend, rather than a step towards an embrace of genuine body diversity in Hollywood. In that casting call, “real breasts” is just the last item in a list that starts with “Must be 5′7–5′8, Size four or six — no bigger or smaller. Age 18 to 25. Must have a lean dancer body.” In other words, they still want women who are very conventionally skinny and lithe. And the move away from implants isn’t necessarily a move away from a preference larger busts at all, just for the particular strain and rigidity of implanted breasts. We live in a time when individual actresses like Gabby Sidibe can break through the expectations Hollywood has for women’s bodies, without changing general preferences and expectations at all: the veil closes behind them until a very particular project and a very particular director needs someone else who looks different from a conventional Hollywood movie star. The truth is that rigid standards of appearance aren’t just a matter of sexism and problematic body image. They make for boring-looking movies, films that look off because they don’t look like the real world in its infinite variation. The same thing is true of movies with weirdly monochromatic casts, too. Even if studios aren’t particularly worried about the body image standards they project, or the characteristics of the population of actors they employ, they ought to worry about whether their movies have some reality to them.