The standards Hollywood holds for a woman’s physical appearance is absurd–and everyone knows it. Recently, Debra Messing opened up about her own struggle with her appearance due to what directors told her on movie sets.
Messing recently told Elle that on the set of the 1995 film “A Walk in the Clouds,” the director, Alfonso Arau, told her to get a nose job, stating:
“I’d never been on a film before. I was doing a love scene with Keanu Reeves. We started filming and the very famous director screamed ‘Cut’ and said, ‘How quickly can we get a plastic surgeon in here? Her nose is ruining my movie.'”
The Jewish actress went on to say how damaging it was for her at the time:
“It was a shock. I was so confident coming out of graduate school with my Masters in acting. I’d studied in London and I was so well equipped with skill sets, and then to walk on set and have that happen—I was reduced to an un-Hollywood nose.
It’s taken me years and years and years to finally own my differences and to love what’s different about me, and to come face to face with a truth within my industry, within our culture. There is a very narrow definition of what a beautiful, vital, vibrant, interesting woman looks like, and that’s the thing we’re constantly fighting against. My entire career I’ve been swimming in that pond, where it’s like, ‘Oh no, you don’t look right’.”
“This is a big deal for me. I feel proud that I have to come to where I am now and that I can share the difficulties that I had to grapple with. I’m still standing.”
Messing also poignantly how Arau also pushed her to do an unplanned nude scene, explaining how he looked at her body without permission, and that it was demeaning and stripped her of “pride” and “power”:
“He dropped the sheet on top of me like a used Kleenex, then walked away without a word.”
Thankfully, Messing is now in a better place, and has accepted her body for what it is–and cited Jewish icon Barbra Streisand as inspiration:
“I have a strong nose, I have small breasts. I’m a fucking original. My nose and I have come this far, and like Barbra Streisand I’m defiantly keeping it.”
It’s refreshing to have Messing open up about her own body struggles–and was honest about how men in the industry don’t respect women. Because everyone needs to hear about these experiences, not because it’s easy to talk about, but precisely because it’s so hard to talk about and we need to teach our children consent, boundaries, and how to love their bodies even if they don’t meet ridiculous Hollywood standards. Because what do those standards even mean?