Today marks the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club. I know, right? It doesn’t seem like it’s even been that long, but yes—it’s been 30 years since that Saturday in detention where five high school misfits learned that just because people are different doesn’t mean they can’t connect.
As cheesy as that sentiment and the overall moral of the story was, I’m by no means knocking the movie. I saw it for the first time during my freshman year of college, and I loved every minute of it. Well, almost every minute. One part that didn’t sit so well with me, and still doesn’t to this day, is the scene when the princess, Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald), gave resident basket case Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) the world’s most unnecessary and, frankly, insulting, makeover.
It came toward the end of the movie, when they all were starting to get along. Out of nowhere, Claire pulls Allison aside and starts to give her a head-to-toe makeover, apparently all to impress the jock, Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez). Here’s the scene in case you need to refresh your memory:
Here’s my problem: I will never understand why Hollywood feels the need to perpetuate this stereotype that women need to look a certain way to be attractive to men, or, for that matter, why women need to do anything for a man’s benefit. The great thing about style and beauty is that every woman can choose for herself the image she wants to put forth and have it reflect her in her own personal way. While we may use makeup and clothes to look a certain way, we do it because it’s what we want to do, not because we think other people will approve of it. The fact that this makeover scene was written into the script in a way that made it seem like it was solely to make Allison seem more attractive to the most popular guy in school is just massively effed up.
Ally Sheedy agrees with me, you know. In an interview with Elle, she talked about how she wasn’t at all a fan of that scene. She said,
“[The scene] was written in the script. I don’t know if John wrote that or it was a studio thing that they wanted Allison to go from being very plain to being suddenly very glamorous. I didn’t like that. I had come up with this thing about her black eye makeup and very pale skin so I thought, ‘Could it be more that she’s taking this mask off?’…I wish it had been a little more of that and a little less of, ‘Let’s make her pretty.'”
Because, ultimately, that’s all the scene really was. It was an excuse to perpetuate the idea girls have to be the stereotypically “pretty” that we’ve come to expect from models and movie stars over the years, under the guise of strengthening the relationship between the two female characters. If the point of that scene really was to remove a mask that Sheedy’s character was hiding behind, then they wouldn’t have changed her outfit, too.
Makeover scenes in movies can always be a little bit problematic. Sure, there are positive ones out there, like Anne Hathaway‘s in The Princess Diaries, but for the most part, they just do the opposite of what they’re intended to do. Characters don’t need makeovers to make them “pretty.” Characters don’t even need makeovers at all, because to suggest that they do suggests that there was something inherently wrong with them in the first place. Ally Sheedy herself said that she doesn’t “subscribe to the idea that you have to look a certain way to suddenly look gorgeous to everyone.” No one should, and Hollywood should learn that lesson sooner rather than later.