“Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.” Betty Davis
The recent Golden Globes raised a few eyebrows for a number reasons – digs at Leo and George for their penchant towards younger women, and in Leo’s case a never ending conveyor belt of supermodels or more specifically a certain part of said supermodel’s body, a comment which caused even such an established actor as Leo to blush.But what was most pertinent to me, and most women, was the sight of Diane Keaton in all her wrinkled glory. You see she is the face of a new L’Oreal ad which was unfortunately aired directly before she appeared on stage to accept Woody Allen’s award. Now leaving aside the whole Woody Allen debate or debacle depending on how you feel about this man, here she was standing before us looking great, but looking her age. She is 68 and has a lovely trim slim figure but her face, well, she has the face of a woman not in the first blush of youth. As she should, she’s 68 after all. However in the ads she has the face of , well it would be hard to put an age to her, but what you could say was she has lovely plump cheeks and not a wrinkle in sight. I’m sure someone at L’Oreal is packing their bags for allowing the ad, which they would have paid big bucks for, to be aired just when we had all seen her in the flesh, so’s to speak. Talk about bad timing! But in a way it did us a favour and demonstrates just how ridiculous these marketing campaigns are and how they must take us women, although not exclusively women, as idiots. Are we expected to continue to fork over our hard earned cash when the results they promise us are now so obviously thanks to a point and click rather than the contents of a jar or tube? Granted it is unlikely that anytime soon they will put a ‘real’ face on such ads, but to put such blatantly ‘unreal’ faces is beyond annoying, it’s downright criminal. And it makes me, the consumer, the one who by buying their product keeps them all in business, less likely to buy which is the exact opposite of the aim of their marketing campaign. I’m a realist – I know that no cream can undo the work of time, sun, lifestyle choices and genes, but I do think that some creams can offer a little help, if nothing other that to stop the flaky bits by the side of my nose which not even foundation can cover up – in fact it makes it worse or more noticeable anyway by sticking to it. Perhaps these marketing folks will be forced now to take note of Davis’ words. She spent her career fighting directors who wanted her to make whatever character she was playing attractive. She however disagreed and insisted on showing death from consumption and poverty as it was – ugly, in a performance that should have earned her an Academy Award nomination and when it didn’t ,caused such an uproar it changed forever the way nominations were selected . For The Corn is Green they wanted her to play the character as younger then she was – she again insisted on aging the woman, wearing a gray wig and padding to create a more dowdy appearance. The film went on to be hugely popular and make a profit of over 2 million. And who could forget her Jane in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? With a face like that who or why would you want to know? But again it was another huge success for her and the studios, which surely goes to demonstrate that folks aren’t as superficial as they are made out to be. That we can, and do, appreciate beauty in all its variations, and a few wrinkles or a few grey hairs doesn’t make someone not attractive, not watchable. The women who buy these products look in the mirror on a daily basis; they are not afraid of the reflection that they see, they may not always be happy with it, they may try to improve it, but they know what they see. Reality will not always be pretty but lying and deliberately misleading people, never is.