This week, Blake Lively sat down with Glamour to explain how normal she and husband Ryan Reynolds are.
“It’s nonsense,” she began. “The night before an interview, I have complete anxiety: How is this person going to spin me? So when you read, ‘Oh, she’s got a perfect life,’ or ‘Her life is crumbling,’ — they pick narratives for everyone. And the narratives stick.”
Which is why she employs a defence mechanism.
“I’m in love with him most of the time, but especially with that,” Lively explained. “I said, ‘Most of the time,’ because if I say, ‘I’m in love with him all the time,’ then you get that eye-rolling, ‘Oh, her life is so great, she’s so perfect,’ So it’s like, my defence mechanism.”
And okay, sure! Cool and fair. In no way, shape, or form, is anybody on this planet perfect. (No one. Not even me. Which I know is hard to believe.) We are all people and we are all flawed and we are all messy and that’s honestly as good as it gets. Blake Lively isn’t perfect, and that’s terrific. But also: our need to “normalize” famous people is also misguided.
It sucks that Lively has found herself in a place where she’s forced to question everything she says and does, for fear that it will be misrepresented in the press. But it also sucks that she’s said things in the past that have necessitated a call-out. (And launched a lifestyle site that romanticized “the old south” and got married at a former plantation.) All of it sucks. But there’s a difference between being perceived as “perfect” and saying and doing things that are culturally insensitive and downright offensive. At some point, a lot of us have done the latter: and as a result, we’ve had to learn what we’d done wrong and why it was wrong and then we learned not to do it again. And the only person we get to blame in the process is ourselves. (Because that’s how adulthood works.)
But when we talk about celebrities and about relatability and the myth of perfection, there’s a lot that seems to get lost in translation. When there’s a backlash to the notion of perfection, it isn’t about resentment regarding someone’s proposed perfect life — it’s about the approach to it. Like, we know that by default, celebrities’ lives are easier than the rest of ours, at least in terms of having money. (Duh.) And, provided no one is assuming their norm is our norm (like Gwyneth Paltrow tends to), that’s okay. Stars are not just like us — they’re stars. Which isn’t to say we also can’t be stars should we so choose, but it is to say that there’s a marked difference between their realities and our own.
Lively isn’t a villain because she’s been depicted as being perfect. Her reputation stems from what seems like an inability and/or refusal to do her homework or learn from those mistakes. But there’s also a problem when interview subjects feel they need to slant their realities to paint a picture they feel will be digestible to us. Because while perfection is a myth and no one wants it (ever), being a person is being the sum of all parts. And if the relationship part is really great, that shouldn’t connote that everything else is, either.