On Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence

85th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

Since she won her Oscar, everyone seems to hate Anne Hathaway.

Strange, considering that Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar has only catapulted her into greater popularity.

To be clear, I love both actresses. But they have very different public personas, very different reactions to fame and success... both simultaneously accept and reject the standards expected of actresses, but while Jennifer Lawrence does it in a way that seems safe and likeable, Anne Hathaway does it in a way that is both too "girly" and not girly enough, too willing to be what we expect from beautiful actresses, and then demanding respect and praise despite that lesser persona.

Jennifer Lawrence is very much a "not like other girls" kind of star. As a young, pretty, smiling actress who looks great in a designer dress, she adheres to the rules of acceptability for the industry, and so isn't at risk of being mocked by the media in that regard... and then she's in a position to gently, humorously reject a lot of the ridiculous elements of that role. She strikes us as a "real" person, someone we'd want to be friends with, because she acts confused when people ask her to talk about her dress, happily talks about food all the time, and trips on her way up to receive her Oscar. She simultaneously accepts and rejects all the ridiculous things that society expects from top actresses: she's good looking and friendly, wearing the dresses she's supposed to wear and being as thin as she's supposed to be, but also joking about how dumb it is to be elegant, to care about the dresses, to diet for several weeks before a big event. And most importantly, she accepts the spotlight while rejecting the spotlight. When she trips on the way to receive her Oscar, when she jokes and fangirls and is self-deprecating in interviews, she presents the image of someone who doesn't yearn for recognition, who is slightly out of place, but who, unlike Kristin Stewart, still fits perfectly into this world. And by this simultaneous accepting and rejecting, mocking the standards without actually visibly breaking them, she becomes totally loveable.

And no matter how amazing Anne Hathaway is, she isn't like that. She speaks up about feminist issues and problems with representation in the media, and is clearly a poised, well-spoken, talented actress. But she accepts the rules for actresses a little too much for our tastes, and then breaks them in small, but "girlish," ways. She is hated because she clearly wanted that Oscar (God forbid an actress actually be ambitious and want recognition for her work). She's hated because she smiles too big and too genuinely, because she's excited and sweet and genuine, rather than deadpan and "honest." She is exactly what little girls are told they should and shouldn't be: beautiful, genuine and sweet, putting effort into fashion and appearances, but also committed, ambitious, and eager for the spotlight and for praise for a work. She's both unacceptably girly and unacceptably un-girly, and the result is someone who, in following all the overt rules of her jobs, somehow breaks all the implicit rules of female stardom, and so is quickly mocked and despised.

While Jennifer Lawrence has the appearance of individuality while perfectly fitting people's desires and expectations, Anne Hathaway embraces the industry and follows its overt instructions to the letter. She is hated because she missed the memo that, while you're not supposed to break the rules, you're not supposed to act like you like them either.