Anne Hathaway has been a superstar for decades. Yes, she hasn’t aged a day. Yes, she’s picked up impressive accolades along the way. But public opinion and affection has shifted back and forth over the years.
For a while, she was the people’s princess. Literally. Her role in The Princess Diaries catapulted her to superstardom. But there were years there when the public just seemed tired of her.
There was no scandal. There was no egregiously problematic role. She wasn’t canceled. She was woman’d.
\u201cOttessa moshfegh is on the verge of getting woman\u2019d I can feel it (woman\u2019d is what I call it when everyone stops liking a woman at the same time)\u201d— rayne fisher-quann (@rayne fisher-quann) 1655941875
After a viral tweet predicting that author Ottessa Mosfegh was next in line to get woman’d, women the-internet-over collectively gasped. Finally, someone put a name to a phenomenon that’s been apparent for decades — no, centuries.
Being woman’d is “when everyone stops liking a woman at the same time.”
If you’re very Online, you can immediately think of multiple celebrities who’ve been woman’d. And not all bounce back into public favor like Anne Hathaway. Being woman’d can end careers.
Jennifer Lawrence was woman’d. After exploding onto the scene in The Hunger Games, Lawrence was the talk of the town. She was a hoot in interviews, a must-see at award shows (remember when she fell up the stairs), and fabulous meme-fodder.
But suddenly, she was annoying? Unlikable? The dreaded … too much? The very same traits the media clamored about were suddenly deemed undesirable. She might still have been one of the best actresses in the game, but she was no longer their pet.
Megan Fox was woman’d. Though I’m a huge fan of her starring role in the cult classic Jennifer’s Body, it was Transformers that made her a household name. It was also Transformers that stopped her career dead.
Director Michael Bay single-handedly disrupted her career trajectory when he kicked her off the franchise. Why? For complaining about the work environment.
“He’s like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous, mad man reputation,” Fox said of Bay in an interview with Wonderland Magazine. “He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for…”
Bay did not take kindly to these comments and fired Fox. Harsh, but maybe fair. What wasn’t fair was what followed: the complete demolishment of Fox’s career.
She went from being one of the most in-demand actresses on the planet to being blacklisted. But in hindsight, I’d say she was also woman’d.
Fox’s experience clearly demonstrates the sexism at the heart of this phenomenon. Being woman’d isn’t about being so-called canceled. These women haven’t done anything. There’s no outrage. Rather, it’s a slow turn to general distaste, often spurred by the media. Often tinged with sexism.
Targeted words like “difficult” or “hard to work with” are fatal when leveled against women. Female celebrities are expected to be likable even when their male counterparts are not.
It’s a game that’s impossible to win. For many celebs, they get punished for the very things that brought them worldwide success. So what do you do? Maybe you retire. Maybe you’re like Anne Hathaway and you wait for the storm to pass. Even Megan Fox is having a resurgence — a decade later.
Take a moment and think. It won’t take long to come up with a number of people who’ve been woman’d. But for now, all we can do is mourn their heydays and lost years of genius work.
Pour one out and raise a glass to all the celebrities the world has woman’d without a thought. Maybe by putting a name to the phenomenon, it will start to fade away.