Beauty has many definitions. Some associate it with facial symmetry, others great hair or a ‘perfect’ body type. Reflecting the rigidity of these ideals, The Oxford Dictionary associates what is beautiful only with the female gender. For many, Beauty is more complex.
Beauty standards are changing
In 2021, non-gendered beauty is increasingly acknowledged. Men and women are no longer visually appealing in separate ways. Many of today’s beautiful women challenge long-held assumptions they must be fragile, slender, and passive. Men reject the need to be archetypically ‘strong’. The impact of the Black Lives Matter, #StopAsianHate, and LGBT+ equality movements have also broadened what audiences are willing to embrace as beautiful.
Gender identities, body types, sexualities, and cultural backgrounds are blurring. Amidst this change arises a question. If we no longer cling to these traditional ideals of beauty, who can be considered beautiful? Asking 25 film enthusiasts, the majority student age, The Glitter and Gold investigated this question.
Each interviewee was asked to provide a list of seven Hollywood stars they considered beautiful. Results varied widely. Some less-than-conventional choices such as Jim Carrey, unfortunately, did not make the final cut. What follows are those that did. Accompanying them are a number of surprising explanations why.
Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman has starred in a multitude of popular films in the last decade. Her roles in The Greatest Showman, Disney’s Shake It Up, the Spiderman franchise, and gritty Netflix drama Euphoria have made the 24-year-old actor a common top pick in the most beautiful lists we collected. Many comment on her magnificent bone structure and eyes. “She’s a goddess to put it simply,” student Georgia Bird informs us. “She glows with a tomboy edge.”
Zendaya in 2021 (via Instagram)
Hunter Schafer starred alongside Zendaya in the Euphoria series. The 22-year-old is a model, actress, and LGBT+ rights activist. Schafer does not shy away from talking about her identity as a non-cis-gendered woman. Her powerful onscreen charisma has won the hearts of millions. “Every Queer girl has had a crush on Hunter at one point surely,” student Greta Clake explains. “She has such a powerful and cool presence.”
Hunter Schafer poses for a promotional photo
With hit 2017 single ‘Sign of the Times’, Harry Styles made clear he was no longer a curly-haired teen sensation from One Direction. Accompanying his leap to musical maturity was a well-received acting role in the 2017 war film Dunkirk. He has also become notable in the fashion world for a close association with the Gucci brand. Regardless of how a fan has come to know the charming Mr. Styles, they can agree upon one thing, his excellent looks. “It’s his dimples and tattoos,” students Luke Ives and Georgia Bird reveal. “He is not afraid to embrace femininity and he does it with so much grace.”
Anya Taylor Joy
Anya Taylor Joy is an actress and model. The Queen’s Gambit star has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. Many who we asked to complete a most beautiful list agree Joy’s unique beauty and raw talent make for a powerful combination. “I find myself attracted to people with distinctive features like Anya Taylor Joy,” student Jai Kussrow reveals. “Her talent is also the main magnet that drew me to her.”
Anya Taylor-Joy poses for a Bulgari promotional image
Timothèe Chalamet is another list-topper. Soon to appear in the long-delayed Dune, the 25-year-old actor has starred in several popular productions. These include Call Me By Your Name, Little Women and Interstellar. Beautiful in a feminine sense, Chalamet bears the striking looks of a Pre-Ralphite painting. “I love that he isn’t afraid to embrace his femininity,” psychology student Jasmine Cartwright comments, “and he does this in such a suave way!”
Donald Glover is a man of action. He is Childish Gambino‘s vocalist and producer. Who, in 2017, enjoyed an international chart-topping hit with ‘This Is America’. Glover is also the mastermind behind the highly regarded Atlanta series. (Not to mention the loveable clown Troy Barnes from sitcom Community.) His sense of style is accompanied by a balance of humor and thoughtfulness. Of all his attributes, it is his raw passion that speaks through most.
Jennifer Lawrence captured the minds of a generation playing Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games film franchise. Her inclusion in so many of our lists suggests her cultural impact is in desperate need of reappraisal. Many fans identify with her battle against body discrimination. “Jennifer Lawrence has faced a lot of body discrimination when she first became an actress,” student and writer Chloe Fazikas notes, “she was considered obese for being curvy.”
Lawrence herself echoed this remark in a 2012 interview with ABC News. “I’m never going to starve myself for a part,” she stated. “I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner’ – I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.”
“I can’t believe people think that she is obese,” student and actor Bethany Dunion exclaims. “She is extremely fit and has a realistic body, she also has the best smile!” Another student, Reagan agrees. “She was in so many films that I loved,” they share, “and her interviews always presented her as down to earth and such a bubbly personality“.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss is the most recent pop-culture manifestation of the bow-wielding Greek Goddess Artemis
All Kinds of Beautiful
The lists collected were a striking reminder of the power of beauty as a force of social change. When it comes to film fans’ choices beauty is something incredibly fluid. As diverse as the tastes of those consulted were, however, they were unified in one sense. Each list reflected a widespread shift toward inclusivity and a heavy emphasis on character and individual style over pure aesthetic appeal. Modern film fans are more willing to openly express that feminity and masculinity are attractive qualities across gender categories. Shifting perceptions are pulling the rug out from under traditional beauty ideals. It is a remarkable change to see.