20 Actresses Who've Spoken About the Objectification of Women in Hollywood

Celia San Miguel | Jul 30, 2016 Celebrities

For ages, Hollywood's endemic sexism has been manifested in a variety of ways: from the disturbing gender wage gap (which became a hot-button issue after the Sony hack revealed both Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned significantly less than their male costars in American Hustle) to the hyper-sexualization of female characters and the dearth of nuanced, relatable, honest roles for women. Luckily, a growing number of actresses are seizing the reins and calling for action, refusing to accept status quo by serving as pretty accessories or sexy play things for male leads.

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By speaking candidly about their own experiences, stars like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Chastain, Zoe Saldana and Brie Larson are fighting for women in Hollywood — and bringing more kick-ass female-driven stories to the screen.

 

Image via jessicachastain/Instagram

  • Gina Rodriguez

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    A photo posted by Gina Rodriguez (@hereisgina) on

    In a June 2015 piece for The Hollywood Reporter, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez recalled a nightmarish audition that left her feeling like a piece of meat. "I was up for a role and auditioned in character," Rodriguez said. "They were like, 'We love her, but can she come back in with a tight black dress?’ I said, 'That doesn’t make any sense for the character.' They were like, 'We need to know if you're pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine.'" Pretty enough? Seriously?! 

  • Emily Blunt

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    Image via Michael Murdock/Splash News

    Sicario star Emily Blunt refuses to grovel for stereotypical roles that reduce her to the status of hot girlfriend or trophy wife. "There's a tendency to want women to be an ideal for some mid-life crisis a guy is having, so I usually fight quite hard against stuff like that," Blunt has said of her role choices, which include The Young VictoriaEdge of Tomorrow, and the upcoming The Girl on the Train.

  • Cara Delevingne

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    Supermodel Cara Delevingne is approaching her blossoming acting career with the same no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners attitude with which she stormed the fashion scene. The Suicide Squad star thinks the depiction of female superheroes is laughably sexist. "Female superheroes are normally naked or in bikinis," Delevingne told Empire magazine. "Wonder Woman: How the hell does she fight like that? She would be dead in a minute." Clearly, logic hasn't been a factor when men have fashioned these female superhero archetypes!

  • Jennifer Aniston

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    Image via Axelle Woussen/Bauergriffin.com

    After finding herself at the center of yet another round of pregnancy rumors, Jennifer Aniston wrote an essay for the Huffington Post setting everyone straight — and dropping some major truth bombs about the film industry, the media, and society as a whole. "The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing," she wrote, adding that it was a reflection of our society's warped beauty standards. "We use celebrity 'news' to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one's physical appearance," she wrote, before calling for a shift in the toxic narrative.

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  • Jessica Chastain

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    While promoting The Martian, Jessica Chastain addressed the problematic hyper-sexualization of female superheroes and action stars in Hollywood. "Studios try to make kick-ass women very sexualized -- they have to be in some catsuit," she told the UK's Radio Times. "But if you look at the most incredible female roles, like Ripley in Alien, she is a very sexy woman but she’s not wearing a lot of makeup. She’s in a T-shirt and jeans. What’s sexy about her is how capable she is."

  • Charlize Theron

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    Image via Gigi Iorio/Splash News

    Charlize Theron almost quit acting after a soul-crushing experience in which she felt objectified. Referencing 1996's 2 Days in the Valley, Theron told Elle magazine, "Someone thought it was a good idea to market almost the entire movie on me — objectifying me a little bit." The promotion efforts led to her being pigeonholed and dismissed as a piece of arm candy. "Afterwards it was like, 'We want you to do that again — can you just do that?'" Theron recalled. The unsavory experience prompted her to take a two-year break from acting.

  • Zoe Saldana

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    A photo posted by Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) on

    Star Trek Beyond and Guardians of the Galaxy star Zoe Saldana has openly denounced the sexism permeating the filmmaking biz. She's repeatedly told media outlets of her shock and disgust when, after she offered some insights on a particular movie scene, the film's producer told her, "I hired you to look good in your underwear holding a gun." Vocal and opinionated, Saldana refuses to be treated as a prop. "If I am just like wallpaper, there's no need for me to be here," she told Allure magazine in a June 2016 interview.

  • Reese Witherspoon

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    Through her production company, Pacific Standard, Reese Witherspoon is revolutionizing the film industry, spearheading projects like Gone Girl and Wild which boast complex female characters. "Women want to see the truth," Witherspoon told Glamour of female moviegoers. "They don’t want to see some perfect girl." The Oscar winner hopes future generations of actresses will fight against being sexualized. "What gets me is how so many young women give up their power and sense of self," she once said. "They take their clothes off and objectify themselves instead of functioning on the principle that they're smart and capable."

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  • Natalie Portman

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    Image via @Parisa/Splash News

    Like most Hollywood actresses, Natalie Portman is frustrated with the lack of nuanced roles for women — even in so-called "feminist" projects. "The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you're making a 'feminist' story, the woman kicks ass and wins," the Black Swan star told Elle. "That's not feminist — that's macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can emphasize with." Spoken like the Harvard grad she is!

  • Brie Larson

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    A photo posted by Brie (@brielarson) on

    “There were many times that I would go into auditions and the casting directors would say, ‘It’s really great, we love what you’re doing but we’d really love for you to come back in a jean miniskirt and high heels,’” Oscar winner Brie Larson told Forbes of the misogyny she's faced in Hollywood. "Those were always a fork in the road because there’s no reason for me to show up in a jean miniskirt and high heels other than the fact that you want to create this fantasy.”

  • Olivia Wilde

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    Image via Jackson Lee/Splash News

    "Because it is institutionalized, I think all women have encountered overt sexism routinely," Vinyl star Olivia Wilde has said of female actresses, directors, and producers. The actress recently revealed that, at 28, she was told she was "too old" to play the wife of a then-38-year-old Leo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street. Joining the fight against gender bias within the film industry has made Wilde optimistic about the future. "The expectation for women to just let it slide and just understand 'this is how it goes' is waning," she told the Huffington Post.

  • Amy Schumer

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    A photo posted by @amyschumer on

    Using her most powerful weapon, humor, Amy Schumer jump-starts a conversation about the objectification of women in Hollywood. In May 2016, an Inside Amy Schumer sketch parodying the 1950s film 12 Angry Men took on the issue. In the black-and-white clip, an all-male jury deliberates over whether or not Schumer is desirable (or, rather, "f***able") enough to merit her own show. Truth in comedy at its best!

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  • Cate Blanchett

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    Image via Splash News

    Cate Blanchett addressed those "foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences" while accepting her Best Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine. "They're not: Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money."  Talk about a mic drop moment!

  • Chloe Grace Moretz

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    The actress has admitted that, when she was younger, she'd felt disheartened by movie executives' constant scrutiny of her physical appearance. "I’ve had certain projects tell me I need to wear push-up bras because I’m an A-cup, or I’ve been told I don’t have a pronounced-enough jaw, that I have a moon face," Chloe Grace Moretz, 19, revealed to Nylon. "When I was younger I really took it to heart.” Now, however, she's pushing back: When movie critics commented on her bikini body in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Moretz sent out a tweet, stating, "I would rather you discuss my career, not my body." Amen, sister!

  • Emma Watson

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    Image via Splash News

    As a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, Harry Potter star Emma Watson is at the frontlines in the battle for gender equality. In 2014, while launching her HeForShe campaign, Watson gave a rousing speech in which she discussed being sexualized by the press at age 14 and embracing feminist ideology.

  • Ellen Page

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    A photo posted by @ellenpage on

    Ellen Page is proudly waving the feminist banner in Hollywood and demanding systemic change. In an interview with the Guardian, the Juno star said sexism is evident in every facet of the business. "It's how you're treated, it's how you're looked at, how you're expected to look in a photo shoot," the self-proclaimed tomboy said. "It's how you're expected to shut up and not have an opinion. If you don't fit the very specific vision of what a girl should be, which is always from a man's perspective, then you're a little bit at a loss."

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  • Amy Adams

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    Image via WUF/Splash News

    Asked if she' be game to explore a love triangle between Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and Superman in a second Man of Steel movie, Amy Adams responded, "I hope that I can be involved with a woman on screen where we’re not in a love triangle." The actress, who played Lane, added it would be fun for the two characters to "work as teammates instead of adversaries." Her point: It is possible for two women to be in the same movie without it turning into a catfight over a man.

  • Anna Kendrick

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    When Anna Kendrick was asked to pose seductively for the Pitch Perfect 2 poster, she flat-out refused, instead folding her arms and adopting a defiant stance in keeping with her character's personality. Fans responded favorably to the poster and, by refusing to objectify herself, Kendrick remained true to her #girlpower beliefs. "They were sweating because I wouldn’t strike a sexy pose," Kendrick wrote on her Instagram. "Love that you guys embrace Beca the badass.”

  • Anne Hathaway

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    Though she's only 32, Anne Hathaway is already losing roles to 20-something neophytes, revealing the depths of industry-wide sexism and ageism. This isn't the first time Hathaway has spoken about the oppressive beauty ideals to which female stars are subjected. “I still feel the stress over ‘Am I thin enough? Is my body the right shape?’” she told Glamour in 2012. “There’s an obsessive quality to it that I thought I would’ve outgrown by now."

  • Keira Knightley

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    Image via Image Press/Splash News

    Keira Knightley was so tired of having the media alter images of her body, making her her bosom appear larger, that she chose to go topless for Interview magazine's September 2014 issue — on the condition that they not alter her itty bitties. "Women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame," Knightley said of the problematic manipulation of female images. Knightley has also spoken about refuse to play a damsel in distress. "Why should you wait for some f**king dude to rescue you?” she asked in a Net-a-Porter interview. She's her own white knight!

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