Are you only successful if you change your appearance?

March 5, 2010

Click here to see a slideshow of Nicole Kidman through the years.

Yes, Nicole Kidman is the startup point of my little rant today. How does a stunning curly redhead gets to become a straight haired blonde zombie with collagen injections in her lips (I will not go on the subject of botox)? Her hair has gone so bad that I seriously suspect that even her loose curls are not even natural anymore: they are too perfect and must have been made with a curling iron after flat ironing the whole of her head to death.

Nicole Kidman used to be one of the celebs I would use as an example of “curly isn’t ugly” whenever someone was pestering me on the schoolground. “Well, Nicole Kidman is a successful actress and she is married to Tom Cruise and she is curly.”

She is not the only celebrity to have tried to negate her genetic heritage. Without turning this into a freak show of cosmetic surgery, many people would try to eradicate whatever signs of belonging to an ethnicity they may have. The over the top example of Lil’ Kim with her fake nose, chin, boob implants, blue eyes, lightened skin and honey blonde hair speaks for itself. Did she really think obliterating her “blackness” would make her more successful?

The other example I would think about is Leona Lewis… When she was on the X-Factor (the equivalent of American idol), her hair was dyed blonde but was extremely curly. Now she has gone for a darker shade (great) but her curls have nearly gone. I also suspect she was getting hair extensions at a certain point (the video for Run) because you can only get curly hair that healthy down to a limited length.

The same thing proved true on American Idol (we do have the show in the UK too). Everytime I see a girl with an afro or curls going through to Hollywood, I always tell my husband: “Another one who is going to be forced to wear a wig/ get it relaxed/ get it straightened for the sake of Glamour”. It gets tiresome to be right. I don’t believe straightening your hair makes your voice better… Unless I slept through all my biology classes and that puzzling correlation escaped me.

So my question is this:

Does success go hand in hand with changing what you were born with just to comply to the norm?

This is more of a chicken and egg thing really. Do you become successful thanks to your original looks first and you start changing because you are pressured to fit into a mould to appeal to more people? Or are you pressured into it to keep people talking (same old face/do)?

The only curly haired actress I can think of who has stayed curly is Mary-Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Maid Marian from the 90’s version of Robin Hood with Kevin Costner, the main girl in The Abyss…). Unfortunately, it looks like she is stuck with TV series guest roles now. All the other ones I can think of have sacrificed their manes on the altar of the all winning flat iron. Sad.


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