Kim Novak Gives Her Oscar Bullies a Well-Deserved Wake-Up Call
It's sad how many times we have to talk about the marginalization of women in Hollywood. Kim Cattrall's Sensitive Skin is an upcoming series that will look at the treatment of aging Hollywood starlets. Emma Watson has criticized the fashion industry for perpetuating unrealistic ideals of what women should look like. Both of those issues combined led people to criticize Kim Novak for her appearance at the Oscars — literally. She presented the award for Best Animated Feature with Matthew McConaughey and people joked that he should use his True Detective skills to find out what happened to her face.
Unsurprisingly, the negative attention "crushed" Novak. She said in an interview with Associated Press that she "was just not prepared for such a negative reaction and it just caught me off guard." And on Thursday, she released an open letter to her critics in which she takes everyone to task for their cruel words and hurtful comments, reminding the world that the anonymity of the Internet doesn't give you a blanket pass to be a jerk.
Novak makes a point that she shouldn't even need to make to begin with. Who doesn't feel better when they look better? Yes, society places an unrealistic amount of importance on appearance and presentation when making judgments about people, but it's amazing what a good hair day or an great outfit can do to improve an otherwise lackluster day. It's all about confidence and being able to draw strength from knowing that you look good is something not every woman can say or that every woman feels 100 percent of the time.
It is everyone's right to do whatever they think is best to make themselves look the way they want to look and Novak in particular is part of a marginalized group that has to work twice as hard as any other Hollywood group in order to remain in the industry that she loves. Hollywood is overflowing with young actors in their 20s and 30s, but at 81 Novak is less of a fresh face and more of a legend. She's been in the game since 1954. Where's her respect? It's more common to see people swooning over how actors are "aging with grace" and dismissing actresses the instant they start to show a hint of grey in their hair than it is to applaud the older generation for paving the way and for the large body of work they've produced.
"I will no longer hold myself back from speaking out against bullies," said Novak in her letter. "We can’t let people get away with affecting our lives. We need to stand up to them in a healthy way by speaking out, working out and acting out."
Novak may have been speaking about her own personal experience, but her words are applicable to people of all ages. They speak to everyone who has ever felt judged for their appearance and they call out everyone who has ever done the judging without realizing how much their words can hurt. If you didn't give her a standing ovation when she presented at the Oscars, then now would be a good time.