Skip to main content

In the film, Sleepless In Seattle, Rosie O’Donnell and Meg Ryan’s characters are confronted with the statistic about the growing number of single women in America. Their co-worker states, “It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than it is to find a husband over the age of 40.” When Meg Ryan says, “That statistic is not true!” Rosie replies, “That’s right, it’s not true, but it feels true.”

Feeling like you don’t measure up to Hollywood’s standards of beauty and physique can discourage anyone. Studios may emphasize diversity nowadays, but as with ageism, a Barbie facade continues to reign. Truth is, if we took away the incredible work of makeup artists and lights from electricians, the standard of film beauty would look different.

There have been several movements to try to redefine what’s acceptable on the screen. I remember an issue of a magazine years ago that featured stars without makeup. More and more clothing companies advertise curvy larger women in commercials and print. Various sitcoms have led the way in putting “normal” people on screen. Most recently, a notable drama cast a “full-figured woman” as one of their leading ladies. Touché!

The question is, have we come far enough in our acceptance of all body types in the entertainment industry? Americans enjoy looking at beautiful people. The big screen has always portrayed A-list actors as the standard for beauty. Specifically, romantic leading roles, not character roles or comedic roles. I wonder how many times a great actor/actress lost a role because they weren’t the producer/director’s idea of sexy, skinny, or gorgeous. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own taste and opinion. The real wave of change for us actors of usual size and asymmetrical faces begins with our thinking. Yes, our thinking.

In case you don’t think that you are contributing to the problem, ask yourself these questions: when you watch a comedy, do you find yourself quick to comment on how fat so and so is? Or, when you see a magazine photo in the grocery stand featuring a celebrity caught with the worst expression possible, do you chuckle and feel better about yourself? Or, when a once top-billing actor is no longer in demand, do you look them up on IMDB and comment on how badly they’ve aged? Let’s be honest; we’ve all done it, right?

Just as we contribute to the issues, we are a vital part of the solution. It’s time to be aware of not only how we judge others but how we judge ourselves. We are our own worst critic. We have to protect our identity from the onslaught of negative emotions and thoughts that arrive to test us when we walk into an audition room, whether or not we book the role, or when we finally see ourselves in a long-awaited project on screen.

We must rise above the false standards that have catapulted so many of us into eating disorders, countless hours in the gym, and large debts to plastic surgeons. More and more young people are getting beauty spa treatments to puff their lips, reduce wrinkles, and smooth out fat. People don’t look like people anymore; they look like chiseled balloons! Our response and willingness to put ourselves on screen, as we are, speaks volumes to those around us.

We have to come to terms with the fact that we are enough. That we are unique and we are beautiful. And if some “Hollywood” coach, director, or producer doesn’t get that, it’s time to start a revolution. Seek out brave creators who will support putting our “flaws” on screen until the images that separate the impossible from the possible look a little more like you, me, and our fellow co-workers.

Carissa Dalton

Author Carissa Dalton

Carissa Dalton is a professional actor, writer, director, teacher and coach. As an actor, she has over twenty years of commercial, television, film and stage experience. She has appeared in projects for Volkswagen, Teleflora, Amtrak, Mitsubishi, Sony TV, National Geographic and more. As a writer, actor, and director, she co-wrote, starred-in and directed the feature film, All The Dragons. She has also directed thirty short films. As a teacher and coach, Carissa has worked with actors and directors, helping them elevate their skills through the CFTN Film Lab—a collaborative class of actors, writers, and directors working to create film organically—of which she is the co-founder and co-director. Carissa is also a well-trained vocalist and dancer, as well as an experienced improv theater performer.

More posts by Carissa Dalton