Les jolie laides.. roughly translated as “ugly but pretty” or “unconventional beauty”, a French term for women who are oddly attractive though not conventionally beautiful. The term came to my mind after reading all over the news a while ago, about how enrage Sarah Jessica Parker was after Maxim named her as the most unsexiest women in the world last year. With her Sex and the City (SATC) movie coming out at the end of this week, it’s a perfect timing to ask ourselves what truly defines beauty, alongside *maybe* planning a SATC movie nite out with your girlfriends hehe For instance, most of the casts of SATC are jolie laides, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda aren’t typically pretty, only Charlotte would probably fit into the mainstream standard of prettiness, while the rest of the casts blossom into their own characters within their own style and grace.
image courtesy of sexandthecitymovie.com
How would you describe a beautiful person? Is it someone with a flawless natural beauty without any makeup enhancements? Someone who had it done with technology interventions (boob jobs, lipo, botox etc)? Someone who is perfectly toned with incredible abs? Someone with a fair porcelain skin or a perfect tan and always well-groomed? or simply, someone who shines through its own aura filled with positive energies? No one really knows anymore. It is true that one can not really define a perfect beauty. They always say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but sadly in this hedonistic life that rule does not always apply.
In Hollywood, where physical appearance plays most part of the deal, Sarah Jessica Parker may not portray what most people consider as a true beauty. Nevertheless her confidence, her sense of styling, her words which came out from her mouth and brain, make her one of the most interesting woman. We can’t deny that her character as Carrie in Sex and The City played along the way to boost her confidence and build her character, in addition to the magic hand of Patricia Field as stylist. Some people actually find her attractive while others may not. Di kita mungkin bahasa tepatnya, “Keren dan menarik”.. “Ga cantik tapi keren dan ga bosenin.”
SJP before and after her phase as Carrie on SATC, courtesy of makemeheal.com
Another example, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hillary Swank, Sofia Coppola and Chloe Sevigny. They’re all attractive, although their beauty are definitely considered FAR from what one may define as an ideal beauty compared to other young Hollywood peers. Barbara Streisand, Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Björk, Liza Minelli, Cher, Sandra Oh, Amy Winehouse also shared a quirky kind of beauty.
Hollywood “jolie-laides”, clockwise: Hillary Swank, Christina Ricci, Chloe Sevigny, Sofia Coppola, Maggie Gyllenhaal, all pics courtesy of ew.com, excluding Sofia Coppola photo courtesy of desitwist.com
And that surprisingly applies in the fashion world as well. Today, they are more and more ‘quirky’ faces in the industry, which in the past could be unacceptable. Carine Roitfeld, said that the girls on the covers on French Vogue needn’t be typically pretty. Well I guess, Roitfeld is definitely ONE of the “jolie laide” with her features which oddly resemble to Iggy Pop, yet still attractive in her own way. Roitfeld chose Charlotte Gainsbourg on the cover of French Vogue (January 08 edition) for her jolie laide appeal, with a long narrow face and sad eyes. I personally don’t find Mlle. Gainsbourg to be a jolie laide, she’s somehow pretty, the classic French way. However her step sister, Lou Doillon, is probably more a jolie laide. Her unusual physical feature definitely accentuates her beauty and make her stand out from the crowd. Another French actress which I also consider une jolie laide and rumored to take over the throne of current-IT-girl from Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, is Clémence Poésy (the new face of Chloé and was casted on Harry Potter as Fleur Delacore). In the modeling industry, there are Alek Wek, Kristen McMenamy, Karen Elson, Hannelore Knuts, Iekeliene Stange, Irena Lazareanu and many.. many.. new faces with their own distinctive features.
from left: Charlotte Gainsbourg – French Vogue, Clémence Poésy – afashionadventure.blogspot.com, Lou Doillon – French Marie-Claire
I guess, people want to see beyond the same pretty faces. Some say beauty could be boring if you don’t have what it takes to bring it up to the next level. As Sarah Jesscia Parker said in an interview as her response to Maxim,
“Do I have big fake boobs, Botox and big lips? No,” “Do I fit some ideals and standards of some men writing in a men’s magazine? Maybe not.” “But on the other hand,” she added, I really like the choices I’ve made. I am who I am.”
And while trying to wrap up this post which has been sitting on my draft for months, I said to myself, “Those names mentioned above are considered unconventional beauties a.k.a les jolie laides but ironically most of them share one thing in common, they are mainly slim and slender!”
Hmm how interesting… would they still be considered les jolie laides if they’re chubby or overweight? Someone with a quirky face and an overweight body?” As unfair as the real world has always been to us, the answer would probably be NO, unfortunately.
At the end, I would say “Your face and body are your own, so is your beauty.” Well, I’m absolutely NOT a beauty expert here myself, but I do believe that we don’t need to suffer to fit into some beauty standard, there’s no need to transform and camouflage your flaws as they could be your biggest assets instead. Surely a clear, clean and healthy skin would definitely be a great beauty asset to start with.
I always admire women who always manage to have great skin. I found them naturally beautiful with or without makeup, whether they have fair or tan skin, thin or overweight, tall or petite, blessed with good genes and great bone structure, a good skin is like a clean canvas to a painter. Overall, just keep ourselves clean (head to toe), healthy (eating habit & lifestyle) and being positive. As simple as it may sound, I’m sure it’s a hard task.
Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie, and Samantha
In the meantime, let’s put this debate aside for now and celebrate the series which have inspired countless of woman out there to dress up again and be pretty on their own way while chasing their biggest dream(s). As for myself, Sex and the City has tremendously made a huge impact and motivated me a lot, especially the scene where Carrie walked into Vogue magazine with the bold big VOGUE logo on her background. I couldn’t help myself not to take that similar shot when stepping my feet there for the first time Whether you like it or not, Sex and the City would never be forgotten and definitely be written in today’s pop culture history.
*click on thumbnail for larger view, top : my candid shot of VOGUE office, below : Carrie walked into the Vogue office courtesy of American Vogue February 02