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.


I know I promised this blog was not going to be about me. I am going to use the “I”, “my” and “mine” quite a lot in this post as it refers to a lot of my close friends…

Ever since I started modelling, my friends have been scaring me. Not in the “Oh, no! Modelling is bad for you, there are conmen out there and you don’t want to develop and eating disorder…” kind of way but more in the “You are so photogenic, I look like a rat, a blob, a mess, I’m ugly, I wish I could look this good…Blah blah”. What actually scares me is the fact that those statements come from women I admire for their guts, intelligence and drive. One of them is actually a marketing executive who speaks 2 languages fluently, managed to complete a part-time MBA and was my bridesmaid at my wedding (and I secretly wish I had her figure). Another is a mom to 2 lovely little boys who has found the courage to divorce her abusive and inconsiderate husband of 11 years so her boys could have a better quality of life. On top of taking care of her boys and running her house, she is dealing with a chronic condition called fibromyalgia. She is officially disabled as a result of it. However, despite her recent and successful spur at getting her life sorted and getting a lovely new boyfriend, she still has massive issues regarding her self-perception and refuses to have her picture taken.

I have plenty more examples of this, I could go on for ages but I won’t. I have been trying to explain with no avail that given the right photographer, lights, make-up and clothes, any woman’s inner beauty can shine through on camera. I did tell them that I, and any other model/celebrity, do look like cr3p on amateur pictures taken on the fly by friends and family, just like everyone else. They just haven’t had the occasion to work with a proper photographer in a proper studio.

As a result of this, I have had an idea germinating in my head… I think I will have an interesting talk with my photographer friend on our next photoshoot. Maybe I can prove my friends wrong: they too can look good on camera.


Interesting Reading…

February 28, 2010

Why do we trust that “beautiful” people are nice? What drives us to make that (stupid) assumption? The answer to the question might lie in Robert Cialdini’s book: “Influence: The psychology of Persuasion”. Please note at this point that I am not promoting this book, I just came across the following (long) quoted passage and found it to be serving the message of this blog: do not cast judgements based on appearance only. “ Although it is generally acknowledged that good-looking people have an advantage in social interaction, recent findings indicate that we may have sorely underestimated the size and reach of that advantage. There seems to be a click, whirr response to attractive people. Like all click, whirr reactions, it happens automatically, without forethought. The response itself falls into a category that social scientists call ‘halo effects’. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. And the evidence is now clear that physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic. Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favourable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgements without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process. Certain of the consequences of this unconscious assumption that ‘good-looking equals good’ scare me. For example, a study of the Canadian federal elections found that attractive candidates received more than 2 and a half times as many votes as unattractive candidates. Despite such evidence of favouritism toward handsome politicians, follow-up research demonstrated that voters do not realise their bias. In fact, 73 per cent of Canadian voters surveyed denied in the strongest possible terms that their votes had been influenced by physical appearance; only 14 per cent even allowed for the possibility of such influence. A similar effect has been found in hiring situations. In one study, good grooming of applicants in a simulated employment interview accounted for more favourable hiring decisions than did job qualifications – this, even though the interviewers claimed that appearance played a small role in their choices. Equally unsettling research indicates that our judicial process is similarly susceptible to the influences of body dimensions and bone structure. Good-looking people are likely to receive highly favourable treatment in the legal system. For example, in a Pennsylvania study, researchers rated the physical attractiveness of 74 separate male defendants at the start of their criminal trials. When, much later, the researchers checked court records for the results of these cases, they found that the handsome men had received significantly lighter sentences. In fact, the attractive defendants were twice as likely to avoid jail as the unattractive ones. In another study – this one on the damages awarded in a staged negligence trial- a defendant who was better-looking than his victim was assessed an average amount of $5,623; but when the victim was the more attractive of the two, the average compensation was $10,051. What’s more, both male and female jurors exhibited the attractiveness-based favouritism. Other experiments have demonstrated that attractive people are more likely to obtain help when in need and are more likely to obtain help when in need and are more persuasive in changing the opinion of an audience. Here, too, both sexes respond in the same way. In the helping study, for instance, the better-looking men and women received aid more often, even from members of their own sex. A major exception to this rule might be expected to occur, of course, if the attractive person is viewed as a direct competitor, especially a romantic rival. Short of this qualification, though, it is apparent that good-looking people enjoy an enormous social advantage in our culture. They are better liked, more persuasive, more frequently helped, and seen as possessing better personality traits and intellectual capacities. And it appears that the social benefits of good looks begin to accumulate quite early. Research on elementary-school children shows that adults view aggressive acts as less naughty when performed by an attractive child and that teachers presume good-looking children to be more intelligent than their less-attractive classmates. It is hardly any wonder, then, that the halo of physical attractiveness is regularly exploited by compliance professionals. Because we like attractive people and because we tend to comply with those we like, it makes sense that sales training programs include grooming hints, that fashionable clothiers select their floor staff from among the good-looking candidates, and that con men are handsome and con women pretty.“ The rest of the book is actually a very good read and provides useful insights into how salespeople, conmen, advertisers, lawyers, etc… try to influence you into doing what serves their interests. It does set some good foundations for anyone who wants to understand the power of influence and turn it around to their advantage, whatever side of the fence they are on.

For more information about Robert Cialdini, click here.

To buy “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, click here.