As I sit in my office typing this, my mother Estela, age 70, is sitting with me. She stopped by for a visit and we started discussing—what else?—Oscars beauty. My take is that there was a certain sameness, and safeness, about most people’s beauty and fashion choices. Mom agrees. A lot of nude makeup looks (Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts) and glamorous, if tame, dresses (Sandra Bullock comes to mind). To be clear, I don’t think that everyone needs to sport Cher’s head dresses or Bjork’s swan gown, but a little glitter and flash seems appropriate on Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. After all, to a certain extent, we crave the same escapism we get from going to the movies from watching the Oscars.
Sadly, the only look that stuck with either of us, was Kim Novak’s. And that was due to her startling plastic surgery. Why, in an age when people like Jessica Lange (64) is starring in the Marc Jacobs cosmetics campaign, and Charlotte Rampling (68) is representing NARS, would an older woman choose to alter herself to the point of being unrecognizable? To quote mom, “The good news about Kim Novak is she doesn’t look 81. The bad news is, she looks awful.” I happen to agree—even while we both cringe at insulting anyone’s personal choices.
Put simply, beauty is a fantastic outlet for personal expression; anything that helps enhance the person you really are is great. (Needless to say, surgery for medical reasons—or to correct disfiguring injuries—is simply miraculous.) But when you’re trying to look like someone you’re not, it becomes untrue—and that’s not particularly attractive. Of course, we’re largely the ones to blame: Society puts unspeakable amounts of pressure on women (actresses in particular) to conform to a singular standard of beauty. That’s why everyone ended up looking the same on Sunday night.
So, where does that leave our Oscars beauty wrap-up? Mom and I hope that beauty keeps evolving in the direction of food, music, art, and literature—and becoming more inclusive. We need to see more well-lived faces, unique hair styles, and makeup that reflects the person on the inside. After all, the face is just the mirror to the soul.