This image showing the history of Hollywood beauty is actually really sad
It’s no secret that Hollywood’s been dealing with a diversity problem. During Oscars season for the past two years, when the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has surfaced, it’s been impossible for anyone to turn away from this issue and, frankly, it’s been heartbreaking to watch. For example, did you know that: Out of the top 500 box office films of movie history, only 6 of them feature a protagonist who’s a woman of color? Yep, you read that right.
The following image will be yet another somber reminder that we still have a long, long way to go.
A team of folks at Pearls Only created a collage of faces representing what the most popular actresses looked like in every decade since the 1920s. They used over 300 different faces to compile the pictures, which reveal the “average” look of women in Hollywood at the time.
As you can see, the above women are white, from start to finish.
In other words, these women reflect the primary images we see of actors and actresses in Hollywood, of the people who don the covers of magazines and billboards. The fact that these women’s faces remained all but the same over the last 90 years, with no trace of any other ethnicities, is worrisome.
In fact, there have been quite a few powerhouse women who have come forward recently to speak up about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, reminding us that it’s not something to be taken lightly. They speak both from personal experience and from what they’ve witnessed over the course of their respective careers.
Viola Davis, an award-winning actress and producer (and total badass!) once said,
“Let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Think about it: How often do we see blockbuster films in which the stars are people of color? Like Viola said, there just aren’t enough roles being created for non-white women to step forward and shine, and that’s sending a poor message to the world’s younger generations.
Gina Rodriguez, star of Jane the Virgin, had some poignant words to say about her own acting career:
“Every role that I’ve chosen has been ones that I think are going to push forward the idea of my culture, of women, of beauty, my idea of liberating young girls, of feeling that they have to look at a specific beauty type.”
During a recent conversation with the New York Times, Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera provided her own example:
“I was 18 and putting myself on tape for a movie I really wanted. I got that phone call: They cast a Latino male in another role in the film; they’re not looking to cast [a Latina]. So I defiantly bleached my hair blond, painted my face white and made the audition tape. I never heard back. I just remember feeling so powerless.”
Another frustrating aspect of this unfortunate Hollywood trend is whitewashing. For example, remember the movie Aloha starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams? Well, Emma Stone played Allison Ng, a character who was meant to be of Hawaiian and Chinese descent. There’s also the upcoming movie The Ghost in the Shell, which features Scarlett Johansson in the role of a character who’s meant to be Asian.
While this information is disheartening, it’s important that we continue to hope – and demand – that women of color get more opportunities to shine in the not-so-distant future. Because we’re surrounded by so much diversity on a daily basis and it deserves to be showcased on the big screen.