Monday, 9 January 2012

Helena Bonham Carter: The Thinking Woman's Icon.

In a world that seems to be increasingly populated by TOWIE clones and try-hard "hipsters" such as Sienna Miller, Fearne Cotton, et al. Helena Bonham Carter stands alone as the quintessential British eccentric. And I adore her for it.
"I hate this image of me as a prim Edwardian," she once said, "I want to shock everyone." And shock, she most certainly does. Unlike most women in the showbiz sphere, Helena has never attempted to fit in with the size-zero wannabe Barbie doll brigade and she isn't afraid to look frankly ridiculous, both in the parts she plays and the way she dresses. It's this fearlessness that makes HBC such a huge inspiration for me.
As a woman, I look at the women who the press seem to be obsessed with and find it increasingly difficult to relate to a single one of them. I will never be a Kardashian or a WAG and I honestly don't aspire to be like women like that. Maybe I am in the minority but the women I admire are those who have something more to be proud of than a pair of silicone-enhanced bazookas, a fake tan and a trashy "reality" show to their credit. I have no desire to look like a cheap copy of 95% of the so-called celebrities that I am bombarded with on a day-to-day basis. What really impresses me are genuinely successful women who have made their name for reasons other than an affair with a married celebrity or simply getting their boobs out in whatever tacky mag will have them. If they happen to be beautiful as well as successful then they are damn lucky, but that isn't what defines them. Helena Bonham Carter is one such woman.
Helena actually does have a beautiful face - amazing cheekbones, smouldering eyes - but what sets her apart is her ordinariness when it comes to her looks. "I've never had white teeth," she says. "To be honest, I've never been told to do any of those horrible things - get your teeth whitened or your nose straightened." Thank the good Lord, too! For it is these things that make her something that most modern-day celebrities are not; a relatable human being. Helena looks like someone you might meet in real-life. She isn't so far removed from you or I, in fact.
Apart, that is, from her crazy sense of style.
Helena is never afraid to wear, quite simply, whatever the hell she wants! Don't get me wrong, more often than not I look at her choice of outfits with a mixture of horror and amusement, but what really impresses me is her sense of independent style. She really doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks and for that I take my hat off to her.
"Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong," she concedes. "But fashion is all about having fun. I think fashion has been hijacked by the fashion industry creating rules on what one should wear and I feel like breaking the mould and seeing that the world won't crumble."
This is a message that should speak to all of us. Who says that you can't wear that dress with bare legs and no tan? Who invented the rule that black and brown together are a no-no? Who first decided that double denim was a disaster? And why the hell am I listening to them? Life is short damn it and if I feel like wearing brown boots with a black coat then sod it, I should do it. But alas, unlike Helena, I just don't have the confidence to be my own person often enough. Yes, I'm ashamed to say that I too allow myself to be dictated to by the likes of crazily-dressed middle-aged "experts" who are lauded as iconic fashion designers (yes, I'm talking to you, Zandra Rhodes).
But what about Lady Gaga? I hear you cry. Well, yes, no-one can argue that she is an, ahem, eccentric
dresser, but could you actually dress like Gaga in everyday life without being carted off in a straight-jacket? I suspect not. Helena, however, manages to be eccentric and shocking without resorting to the publicity-seeking stunts of wearing raw meat dresses and the like. She achieves individuality by simply wearing mis-matched shoes on the red carpet at the Golden Globe awards, or taking her daughter out for a stroll dressed as a kind of mad ragdoll in pantaloons.
"I'm often criticized for what I wear," Helena says. "That's my main label in the press now: disastrous dresser!" Maybe so, but she is also a breathtakingly brilliant actress with two Oscar nominations under her belt and a newly-awarded CBE. Even more impressive when you consider that her film roles have been almost as off-the-wall as her wardrobe.
Even Helena's personal life is unconventional. She and her partner, Tim Burton, famously live in adjoining properties rather than sharing a house together, and yet their relationship has so far survived ten years and two children. No mean feat
in the world of showbiz. Clearly they are doing something right and if it works for them then why not? Why be pressured to live in the "normal" way if it doesn't suit you?
Finally, I return to what I see as Helena's most admirable trait. Her unashamed humanity. Unlike the Victoria Beckhams of this modern age, who somehow find it fundamentally impossible to even raise a smile instead of a pout, Helena is the kind of person who could fit right in at your local.
"I drink booze, I smoke, and I'm hooked on caffeine. I actually have been known to swear at times and belch and even raise my voice when provoked. And I'm not physically repressed!"
Helena Bonham Carter, I salute you!

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