Audrey Hepburn deserves to be recognized as a lasting role model

In Opinion
Audrey Hepburn in front of tree branch with a green background

Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were two women who had substantial influence on the world of beauty, but when it comes down to who exhibited beauty both inside and out, Hepburn was unparalleled.

Hepburn’s defiance of social norms makes her stand out from other role models of her time. Monroe was largely regarded as a sex symbol and personified this in many of her films. While it is not necessarily a bad thing to be viewed as a sex symbol, Monroe’s sexual persona didn’t challenge societal standards in the way that Hepburn did.

Hepburn’s role in the 1957 film “Funny Face” is a good example of how she challenged societal standards. In the movie, she portrayed an intellectual bookstore clerk who is persuaded to become a model even though she felt that the modeling industry was “chichi” and “unrealistic.”

Both Hepburn and Monroe’s stardom peaked in the 1950s. This was a time where men and women still strictly adhered to traditional gender roles, according to the Khan Academy website. In America, the idea of the nuclear family kept most women at home.

In the United Kingdom, where Hepburn was raised, circumstances were similar. English women often married young and were expected to fulfill housewife duties in lieu of a career, according to Historic UK’s website.

It could be argued that Monroe’s open sexuality defied social norms. Her confident and alluring personality in movies like “Niagara” taught women to embrace their sexuality and served as a precursor to the American sexual revolution of the 1960s.

Yet amid all these things, Monroe lacked originality. She still represented the ideal American woman of the 1950s with her platinum blonde hair, cherry-colored lips and ditzy attitude.

Hepburn was unconventional even in the way she looked. She was renowned for her classy sense of style and her unique makeup routine, which included her iconic squared eyebrows.

Her eyebrows may seem irrelevant but they represented a significant part of her overall charm. By sporting thick, straight brows, Hepburn redefined the classic laws of beauty and blurred the line between traditionally masculine and feminine features.

She embodied who the average woman was, rather than what they ought to be, which earned her a place in many magazines’ rankings of top movie stars.

Hepburn’s career in acting wasn’t the only thing that made her a good role model. She also spent five years doing humanitarian work in Africa and Latin America and served as a special ambassador to the United Nations. She started her humanitarian work in 1988 and completed it  in 1993, according to IMDb. Her work as a humanitarian was something that showcased her inner beauty because it demonstrated she could be a role model in the United States and abroad.

Though some of her films were similar to Monroe’s, Hepburn didn’t let the world define her, making her a lasting inspiration to many. Her legacy is best exemplified by her quote, “Happy girls are the prettiest.”

This, combined with her forward-thinking personality, set Hepburn ahead of her time.



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