Judith P. Raynault studio

Robin Wright's Forehead

I recently started watching 'Portrait Artist of The Year', a show in which the contestants have four hours to paint or draw the portrait of a live sitter. FOUR HOURS! Mine take much longer than that. So, for this month's illustration, I gave myself the challenge to complete it in four hours. Here's the result!

Yup, I didn't have enough time to finish it. And poor Ms Wright looks a bit scary. To get the illustration to the point below, I had to put in eight more hours... Which is still much faster than my usual pace! 😳

Forehead evolution

I used to watch the TV soap Santa Barbara when I came back from school. The show starred a 20 year-old Robin Wright. She was beautiful. She also had fine lines on her forehead, even at such a young age. So when I discovered fine lines on my forehead at the same age, I thought "Oh well, Robin Wright had them this young so that’s normal.” Fast-forward to when I sat down in my early 30's to watch House of Cards, only to discover that her forehead was now smoother than mine!? The woman who had helped me to accept my wrinkles was now bottoxed to (facial expression) death. It felt like a small betrayal.

Let me be clear: I'm not having a go at Robin Wright for having plastic surgery. I understand why she felt her wrinkles were unbecoming, considering how we're constantly bombarded with ads telling us how to make them go away. She also probably thought it would give her more job opportunities. Considering I don't remember seeing her in, well, anything for a long time between Forest Gump and House of Cards, it seems like she was right.

Illustration close-ups

But if the media always and only present us with women who show no signs of ageing, it becomes a self-perpetuating prophecy that we'll think our worth is in our youth. It all feeds into the narrative that women only deserve to be seen if they look 'flawless'.

This brings about a bigger conversation around representation in all its forms. What we see repetitively becomes the norm and therefore acceptable and desirable. What the media choose to hide, omit, or imply isn't good enough, begets rejection. That's why representation matters. I'm sure all the little girls wearing glasses who now have two major animated movies (Encanto & Turning Red) to see themselves reflected in would agree with me.

I'll always remember hearing the actress Lupita Nyong'o, a breathtakingly beautiful woman, saying she used to think she was ugly because she didn’t see her dark skin anywhere in the media. The more we see real life represented, the better off we all are.

Judith xx

The illustration, hour by hour

I didn't screenshot hours 2 and 3 because I thought I'd be done by the 4th...

Newsletter recommendation

While we're on the subject of being told what we should look like, I recently came across Jessica DeFino's newsletter about the beauty industry (via this viral tweet).

I've read just a few posts, all of them very good, but this one especially sounds like it was meant to accompany what I mention above. Here's an extract:

"So get that Botox! Fill that tretinoin prescription! Champion turn-back-the-clock cosmetic surgery! But let’s at least be honest about what we’re doing when we do these things and why: We’ve been made to believe our worth is tied to our beauty and our beauty is tied to our youth. That belief is so deeply ingrained in us and in the world around us that it feels impossible, even pointless, to fight it."

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© Judith Poitras-Raynault 2024
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