Australian royalty Nicole Kidman’s latest Vanity Fair cover is at the centre of a raging debate on the interwebs, and for good reason. Let’s get into it.
It’s no secret that Hollywood has it out for older women.
There’s long been complaints of women in the acting industry becoming typecast as mothers and wives when they hit their 40s, despite crusty 50+ year old male actors still holding lead roles. Ironically, Vanity Fair actually wrote about it in 2017.
There’s a lot to say about this toxic culture, but the key topic flooding our screens now is pressure for women to look as young and sexy as possible — because that’s the only way they’ll get the respect and opportunities they deserve.
Exhibit A: This ridiculous Vanity Fair cover of Nicole Kidman.
If you’re as online as I am you’ve probably already come across Vanity Fair‘s controversial Hollywood 2022 cover. The internet is brimming with arguments on whether it’s problematic or not.
Some are arguing that the look is a serve, that Nicole Kidman is iconic, blah blah blah. Maybe that’s true, but those takes lack nuance and don’t actually counter the backlash around this shoot.
The first criticism here is of “excessive photoshop” on Nicole Kidman’s body to make her look young, sexy and fit as fuck.
I love Nicole Kidman, but what is with this monstrously retouched image? She’s a beautiful women, surely this isn’t necessary
— Martine Pulvenis (@RoguePixelz) February 17, 2022
Now look, there is almost definitely a level of photoshop going on here. Wouldn’t be a mag cover without it. But it seems that in Vanity Fair‘s video of Nicole, those abs are real.
Obviously, image editing and unrealistic expectations of women is an issue that will plague photoshoots and magazine covers until their dying days. But as the comments on original post post point out, there’s a bigger issue here.
Namely, Nicole being dressed and posed like Britney Spears‘ school girl look in the 90s, even though Nicole is a highly accomplished actor.
Let’s build some context.
Nicole Kidman is 54 years old. She’s received numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards and six Golden Globe Awards.
She’s one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, TIMES included her in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world and The New York Times named her one of the greatest actors of the 21st century.
It’s with these achievements in mind that people are frustrated by Vanity Fair‘s photoshoot, because it makes Nicole Kidman look like a teenage girl.
She’s not only infantilised, but then sexualised — which is a really icky combination, especially when sexualising school girls is a very real issue that has ties to rape culture. Did we learn nothing from Britney??
exactly this. i’m less concerned with whether her body is “real” or not, or healthy or not, or how photoshopped she is or isn’t than wondering why she’s styled like an early 90’s teen pop star.
— Elizabeth Birdsall (@LizzyDog1970) February 17, 2022
Some of you may be wondering “why is it a bad thing that Nicole looks so sexy and young? Is this slut-shaming”?
The answer is no because, like we mentioned earlier, it’s a symptom of the toxic culture that only respects women based on their fuckability rather than their professional accomplishments.
As one comment on Vanity Fair‘s Instagram post reads: “Why does a 50+ year old woman need to be fetishized as as a teen to make it on the cover of Vanity Fair?!”
Because sexism, babes.
Nicole Kidman is sexy. There are a myriad of ways Vanity Fair could have exemplified that without leaning into the sexy school girl aesthetic.
Let’s not infantilise grown women for the sake of maintaining what Hollywood thinks is peak fuckability, thanks.