Dear Hollywood

I know you all LOVE to have hot women who can whoop ass in your movies. Many men have the fantasy of “taming” a female “beast” of a woman. I’m not going to talk about THAT stuff here.

But can I just suggest that if you have such a woman in your movies, she actually weigh MORE than 110 lbs. AND have at least SOME muscle development? I’m getting tired of seeing women with who are supposed to be able to deftly weild weapons that are twice as thick as their spindly arms. And I cannot get behind a chick that can supposedly leathaly shoot an arrow from a bow whose draw weight is higher than her total body weight. Unless those weapons were made by Nerf, I ain’t feelin’ it.

Yes, I understand while said men like the fantasy of seeing women fight, they don’t want to see manly-looking women doing it. I get that most het men don’t like the female bodybuilder look. I also understand that getting you all to accept all body types and sizes as normal and acceptable is like you all finally treating Black women as if we were really human and, well, WOMEN, so let me give you a couple of examples of “doing it right” that you’ve actually did a pretty good job on in the past. One was Xena: Warrior Princess. Both Xena AND Gabrielle looked like HEALTHY women who had actually gone through puberty and gotten ALL their female hormones. They also looked sexy. And I’m not talking “PC” “everyone is beautiful in their own way” sexy. I’m talking random men (and a few women of any orientation) going, “I’d hit that soooooooooooooooo hard and sooooooooooooooooo many times.” And both women actually LOOKED like they could fight with the weapons they weilded.

The second example is Linda Hamilton in the second Terminator movie. She was toned as you’d think someone would be who had been living with guerrillas and learning their trade for the 10 or so years she had John Connor with her. She looked like someone who could hold her own in a firefight, which she did in that movie and she didn’t have those big, bulging, “icky” man-muscles that folks don’t want to see in their hawt fightin’ chicks.

So next time you want to cast the latest size 00 ingenue to weild a 40 lb trident like it was a baton, you may want to send ol’ girl to the gym and make her take some MetRX or something so she won’t look like a blade of grass next to her weapon.

Juss sayin’.

25 thoughts on “Dear Hollywood

  1. I’m finding this article somewhat offensive although I know it wasn’t intended to be that way.

    I don’t think that women who possess muscles are necessarily ‘manly’ anymore than men without muscles are feminine. These sorts of gender stereotypes are a problem endemic everywhere and we really shouldn’t reinforce them.

    Do we look at action movies starring men and judge the male leads for their body-shapes? Now there is a huge problem with Hollywood in general and the whole media industry in particular. You will find leading men of all ages, body-shapes and ethnicities. There’s just not that same range for women, especially not in action films. I agree this is a problem.

    There’s a dearth of heroines in general in action films. They’re usually the love interests. They might be the partner or the sidekick if they’re lucky. There’s so very few movies where the women take the lead. And admittedly in the cases where they do they usually conform to a certain Hollywood ideal. They’ll be a lot younger than the men for a start.

    Women don’t put on muscle the same way men do. It’s not just about aesthetic appeal. You hear of men bulking up for their roles. There’s female actresses who train every bit as hard for their roles as the men do but their natural body-shapes mean that they just don’t put on the same degree of muscle.

    There are female weightlifters who’re all of 5’ tall and 100lbs and fully capable of lifting their own bodyweight so it’s not completely infeasible.

    Keira Knightley’s undoubtedly one of the waifs that you’re speaking of. There’s countless sources that say she has trained in archery for more than the one role. That she’s actually quite good at it (the papers could be being kind). She wasn’t just holding the bow and looking pretty, she put in just as much work as her male co-stars, if not more-so. I remember the fuss over her role in King Arthur, when on the posters they decided she wasn’t womanly enough so they photo-shopped her image to make her breasts larger.

    By saying that Xena and Gabrielle looked healthy, it carries the implication that these other women don’t look healthy. I think that that’s a bad thing. A lot of these actresses are actually extremely fit. They do go to the gym. They do train hard for these roles.

    I found the statement about them having gone through puberty and having all their female hormones particularly offensive. I’m not even sure where to begin to take that one apart. Women with slim figures and no chests are no less women than those with curvaceous figures. Women who have hormone imbalances are no less women than those who do not. Women who have gone through puberty as women are no more women than those who have not. Hormones don’t make a woman.

    Now, I get where you’re coming from with the article. I think it could have been far better worded.

    I do agree with the point that you’re trying to make. I think that we need more action movies with heroines all around. I would like to see different body-shapes, different ages, female lead characters in action movies who don’t fit into the very small ideal of Hollywood beautiful. I would love to see actresses who are the same age as the leading men or older. I’d love to see more movies where it’s not just about the women being sexy eye-candy. And yes I’d like to see more muscular women like Jenette Goldstein when she played Vasquez.

      • I didn’t say I didn’t like the article, because I think it’s a great stepping stone for various discussions. I did say I found it offensive in places. Not that I found you offensive, mind you, just the article and it was mostly that hormone line. And I did find it falls into a few of the traps I find frequently crop up when discussing this sort of thing. But I’m always willing to be persuaded that I’m wrong.

        • I did say I found it offensive in places. Not that I found you offensive, mind you, just the article and it was mostly that hormone line. And I did find it falls into a few of the traps I find frequently crop up when discussing this sort of thing. But I’m always willing to be persuaded that I’m wrong.

          Unfortunately, what I saw you doing was taking Witchsistah to task for not being inclusive enough of the women who, as the status quo demands, are always included in the first place.

    • I don’t think that women who possess muscles are necessarily ‘manly’ anymore than men without muscles are feminine. These sorts of gender stereotypes are a problem endemic everywhere and we really shouldn’t reinforce them.

      I understood her point to be more sarcastic than literal. Remember, Black women are capable of smart humor like that. *winkwink*

      Personally, I think this is a critique of the current trend in most films to prioritize how a woman looks in a skin-tight outfit or bare midriff than with how well her body can perform the tasks demanded of the character she plays.

      Women with slim figures and no chests are no less women than those with curvaceous figures. Women who have hormone imbalances are no less women than those who do not. Women who have gone through puberty as women are no more women than those who have not. Hormones don’t make a woman.

      I can understand where you’re coming from with this, but that’s not what I see Witchsistah saying. It’s a bit more nuanced than what you’re presenting here (which goes hand-in-hand with the assumption that Black women aren’t smart enough to make layered arguments or ones that are not immediately obvious).

      The pattern I see Witchsistah critiquing is the one where the only body type being presented is one that is almost off-putting because it seems to skew pre-adolescent in a way that reads more like “barely legal” porn than an acknowledgment of different ways of embodying womanhood.

      At least, that’s my take on it.

      • What RVCBard said.

        And I find the “all types of beautiful” line somewhat off-putting, since it sounds like the same type of deflection you hear when someone brings up the lack of nominees of color at the Oscars, for instance. White women particularly tend to point all the blame at White men, as if combined racism-sexism on it’s own isn’t a legitimate concern.

        • Yeah, that’s why I put in the whole “PC” “everyone is beautiful in their own way” line, partly because most folks who say that don’t believe it (folks have their preferences however those are informed) and it is a throwaway line BECAUSE most folks who say it don’t believe or support it.

          • “it is a throwaway line BECAUSE most folks who say it don’t believe or support it.”

            Exactly. Sorry I was unclear, but I was talking about Raz’s last paragraph of her first response, which sounds to me like a deflection. I didn’t read any lip-service in your post. :-)

      • I understood her point to be more sarcastic than literal. Remember, Black women are capable of smart humor like that. *winkwink*

        Thank you. It was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and off the cuff, not a serious treatise on Hollywood heroines complete with MLA citations and bibilography.

      • I agree that having all women looking like pre-adolescents is a problem. Just as shows with 30 year old men and women cast as teenagers is also a problem. And the impossible ideals of size 0 models who’re then photo-shopped further.

        But the moment anyone starts talking about looking like they got their full dose of womanly hormones they hit a couple of areas of privilege. Now, I know it wasn’t intended maliciously, but I don’t think that “black woman using smart humour” warrants a get out of it free card anymore than “gay man using humour” is a free card for calling people trannies, or “woman using humour” is an out for railing on people with hormone deficiencies.

        It’s very uncommon to see a muscular woman in the media without the “she looks like a lesbian” comments or the whole flood of transphobic crap. Now, I can see wanting to reverse that trend, saying that there’s nothing wrong with muscles, and that these women look like women, that they are feminine, they’re sexy. That it’s every bit as hot to show a woman that looks physically tough. I can see wanting to swing the gender-policing comments around the other way in a sarcastic attempt to show where the industry is wrong.

        But that sentence about the hormones, it’s problematic. Which of course isn’t to say that she doesn’t have a point and isn’t right about the industry only presenting one body-type because I do agree.

        • The tone of this was supposed to be one of, “I know you ain’t gonna act right, Hollywood. And I know you’ve been about the thin, young and pretty since day one of the film industry which has lasted almost a century. And that is not likely gonna change for a while. But couldja at least do THIS for me? I mean, could you at least make THIS aspect a BIT more believable to me?” And it was meant to be tongue-n-cheek.

          I didn’t say that thin women shouldn’t be in motion pictures, nor that they shouldn’t be in action films, nor that they should only be relegated to certain parts like only be the love-interest or the damsel constantly in distress. But at least make it more believable to the eye in THIS ONE aspect (I’m sure there are many, many other ways Hollywood is falling on its ass regarding realism).

          I apologize for the hormones comment and for the implication that the women you champion in film are not healthy.

          Now can we have some BIGGER girls seen as kicking ass, taking names and looking damn sexy doing it? It’s not an either/or deal where it’s either predom or all thin chicks or predom or all beefier chicks. I want a nice, HEALTHY (there’s that evil word again) mix.

          And I say this as a lifelong skinny bitch.

        • I don’t think that “black woman using smart humour” warrants a get out of it free card anymore than “gay man using humour” is a free card for calling people trannies,

          You really need to unpack this shit because that was simply fucked up.

  2. Flag wavin agreement overhere.

    Thanks for reminding why once upon a time I watched Xena. And here’s hopin we one day have a female action star with the physique of Sammo Hung (with just as much skill and not played for laughs)

    -Ansi8

  3. I get what you’re saying. Was there a particular TV show or movie that you were watching that triggered this post? I’ve thought the same when watching the now-canceled “Dollhouse”, seeing Zoey Saldana in the commercials for “The Losers” (holding a bazooka, no less), Evangeline Lilly in “Lost”, etc. Not saying that tiny women can’t kick ass, but why are so many of these ass kicking women tiny? I think it’s because instead of casting an actress who fits the part, they’re often casting actresses who have star power or could grow to have star power, then trying to mold her into an action heroine.

    For example, Tricia Helfer, Katie Sackoff, and Grace Park on Battlestar Galactica are all slim women, not super muscular, but they were able to convince me that they could fight with men and win. Noomi Rapace is teensy, but I believed her in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” as a character who is not necessarily strong enough, but clever enough to get the upper hand in a fight with a man. Michelle Rodriguez is small (I didn’t realize how much so until “Machete”), but she exudes the necessary toughness to play the action heroine to the point where she’s been typecast as that character. Some of it is physicality, but I think most of it is acting. Not that these actresses are brilliant, just better at playing this character type than others. They convinced me that they have no doubt that they can beat someone down.

    I think casting an actress who can convey the right amount of toughness is more important than how buff they look, but I did cringe when I saw the trailer for “The Losers” and saw how, I’m sorry, skeletal Saldana looked, and realized that she was supposed to be the bad ass female action hero, firing a bazooka, when shooting a revolver would have flung her for miles. The look matters to me if I can’t even believe that you can handle the weapon you’re wielding.

    It would be nice to see women with different body types in general in movies and TV, instead of feeling as though what Hollywood thinks men like is dictating which actresses get cast in which parts. Lucy Lawless and the show Xena got made fun of a lot because of her perceived “masculinity”, even though Lawless is a drop dead gorgeous woman who never looked manly, at least not to me.

    How many tall actresses with athletic, toned, muscular bodies are getting passed over for action roles because Hollywood wants us to believe that being small, thin and having an attitude = being strong and kicking ass? Is this about maintaining the beauty ideal that Hollywood has put forth (small and skinny is what sells)? Or does Hollywood believe that men are intimidated by tall, buff women, so they cast waifs instead to ease their fears?

    • Is this about maintaining the beauty ideal that Hollywood has put forth (small and skinny is what sells)? Or does Hollywood believe that men are intimidated by tall, buff women, so they cast waifs instead to ease their fears?

      Honestly, I believe it’s more than a bit of both.

      • It’s not even as if they’ve got any sort of evidence to back this up. They get this idea into their heads that has absolutely no basis in reality.

    • Was there a particular TV show or movie that you were watching that triggered this post?

      I was watching the movie Centurion on Netflix. The woman who played the character of Etain inspired this post. She’s weilding a trident that you can tell is supposed to weigh a ton, yet her arm is about as wide as it is. And they were trying to play her as strong enough to fight and beat battle scarred, battle-tested and battle-proven Roman soldiers. Yeah, let’s just say I was less than convinced.

      Not saying that tiny women can’t kick ass, but why are so many of these ass kicking women tiny?

      That was my main point. Glad you and a few others caught it. As much as I like Zoe Saldana as an actress, I can’t see her beating the shit out of former CIA/Black Ops dudes in The Losers. It’s not “OMG! Die, skinny bitches, DIE!” like some folks want to believe. I’d have to include myself in the skinny bitch bonfire. But I’d also like to see a bit more realism in Hollywood regarding this. And yes, I know that Hollywood and realism are oxymorons. That’s why they have heros hiding in refrigerators to survive nuclear blasts.

      My point was NOT to say that only some body types are valid or should be to Hollywood, but that, lets face it, Hollywood has always been about thin/slim, very attractive people. They ain’t gonna stop anytime soon. Hence me stating, “I also understand that getting you all to accept all body types and sizes as normal and acceptable is like you all finally treating Black women as if we were really human and, well, WOMEN.” So since they’re gonna keep on with fighting hotties in action flicks I’m just suggesting that they at least try to fool folks. It seems they’ve gone to an extreme when it comes to thinness to the point where it seems more and more only the waiflike can be in ANY movie, especially as a lead. At least make it somewhat believable in presentation that the woman in question has the physicality to do the stuff they have her character doing onscreen.

    • Haha, Dollhouse.

      The sheer number of people who honestly believe Joss Whedon is a Grade-A feminist repulses me deeply.

      • I STAY trying to wrap my head around THAT concept.

        Well, whatever his feelings about women, he doesn’t like women of color particularly Black women and definitely not dark-skinned ones.

  4. One was Xena: Warrior Princess. Both Xena AND Gabrielle looked like HEALTHY women who had actually gone through puberty and gotten ALL their female hormones.

    LOL. Xena’s my girl.

  5. I don’t understand how people misinterpreted this.

    Whenever I see a bony, noticeably un-muscled warrior woman in a film or TV show, I immediately shut down. It’s like watching Angelina Jolie cast as a woman of color – I’m not buying it.

    When men are cast to play warriors, their asses are sent to a gym. But when it’s women, they’re sent on a diet. What is exactly is the logic there?

    I mean, I get it in the supernatural sense; Buffy, a vampire slayer, or Selene, the vampire from “Underworld”, but outside of the fantasy/sci-fi genre, it’s not buyable.

  6. I hear your point, but I think any size women fighting would be realistic for me, if only the fight choreographers would actually put some thought into what a thin girl can actually do in a fight.

    I think fight choreographers don’t think about those martial arts developed by women for women, like Wing Chun.

    They don’t think about the fact that a women’s strength is in her lower body, not her upper body.

    So hard-hitting punches from skinny girl look crazy, unrealistic.

    There are many fighting styles that use an opponent’s balance and momentum to utimately best them in a fight. So, you don’t have to be physically strong, in a noticeable way.

    The problem is that you never see these styles used by smaller women on film.

    As you said, what you see is are tiny ninety pound women throwing punches in the same style as a two hundred and sixty pound six foot three man(!), and theyexpect an audience to believe that her punch would knock him out.

    I don’t think so.

    I’d like to see a greater diversity of women kicking ass on film, and realistically so, playing to their actual physical strengths.

    • I hear your point, but I think any size women fighting would be realistic for me, if only the fight choreographers would actually put some thought into what a thin girl can actually do in a fight.

      Precisely.

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