Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Regular People

The lengths to which celebrities often go to appear as though they’re naturally built like statuary—because that’s what’s expected—are impressive. I appreciate seeing a great body and seductive face with the best of them, but I don’t believe such pseudo perfection is always desirable. We weren’t all produced from the same mold, and we weren’t all meant to be decorative and entertaining. No wonder young men and women fret that they aren’t good enough. We the audience are admiring hours upon hours upon months of workouts, not to mention time in the makeup chair of an artist. But how can we identify? Recently, the Marvel Universe has raised the stakes with spandex super-suits and CGI. Now we’re accustomed to six-pack abs and teeny tiny waists in an array of ethnicities. Young people aspire to live in a comic book. And mature talents—especially women—are abandoned with the conclusion that women are attractive only when they look young and fit.

Maybe because I’m into my “senior years,” but people forced or CGI manipulated to be incredibly physically ideal don’t feel real to me any longer. I think of Judy Garland who was forced into weird diets (including dangerous diet drugs) and girdles when she was still a child. Pressure hadn’t changed much for Whitney Houston whose father insisted she pretend to be heterosexual—which led her to marry Bobby Brown who helped her medicate the added stress with addiction. What’s wrong with being real? What normal person objected that Kate Winslet was too chubby to attract Leonardo deCaprio—or anyone else—in TITANIC? I first noticed what I had come to expect when naturally stocky John Belushi was presented as a romantic lead in CONTINENTAL DIVIDE. It worked. He was sexy. I thought of him when I watched the British comedy FINDING YOUR FEET in which the romantic lead is Timothy Spall, the same man who played the villain Wormtail for Harry Potter. Would I have thought of him when casting for romance? Probably not. He wouldn’t be hired to model men’s cologne. But he made it happen opposite Imelda Staunton, who wasn’t a candidate for spandex, either. Real people fall in love. Emma Watson in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST didn’t need the terrible corset in which Kenneth Branagh imprisoned Lily James as CINDERELLA.

Gregory Gadebois plays a chef to the aristocracy who looks like he enjoys his own food in the engaging film set before the French revolution DÉLICIEUX or DELICIOUS (which was subtitled from French when we watched it on Amazon Prime). However, he’s definitely attractive to his female lead Isabelle Carre, a fiercely independent, determined lady. In the Danish film FOOD CLUB (annoyingly dubbed into English), out of three available women of a certain age, the male lead selects the one who is least like a Hollywood leading lady. When I was surprised, I realized how unusual it is to see a not-thin widow you could meet in the grocery store win the guy over more traditionally seductive rivals, even though she is the most naturally charming of the three.

Perhaps because most of these films are basically comedies aimed at a mature audience, casting didn’t worry about pleasing the younger set who are generally presented with either very couture model-appropriate leads or leads who are much larger. (Larger women are supposedly funnier.) Again, no wonder young people—actually, all of us—often feel inadequate. We aren’t usually presented with role models who could blend into crowds of regular people. However, being free to be real can generate real joy.

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