Agyness Deyn, the hipster supermodel who is best known for prancing around New York dressed like a messy toddler, has given what one would hope was her most stoned interview to the New York Times. While the article centers mostly around Deyn’s future career as a supermodel/actress/whatever, Deyn peppers the interview with her vague, sometimes bizarre insights and answers to some of the simplest questions. She ends sentences with questions and drops more “likes” than a 16-year-old Californian teenager (oddly, “likes” and “ums” are usually omitted from interview dialogue, which makes the inclusion of them in Deyn’s interview…peculiar). The interviewer, Cintra Wilson, notes that she finds Deyn’s lack of depth common in most young famous women she interviews–not because they are dumb but because they use faux-stupidity to protect themselves from ruining their “brand:”
[Deyn] comes off as genuinely sweet, sunny and slightly dim, her punkette look the thinnest candy coating over an interior filled primarily with airy, whipped pink goo and nuvo-hippie, gestalt-y wow-ness. But this dimness, I suspect, is strategic. I’ve seen this before; actresses sometimes evade answering questions by obfuscating them in colorful fogs of positive nonsense. It is understandable: actual information limits the ability to be all things to all people, so vagaries protect the brand. But they also result in puzzling answers to relatively simple questions.
We’ve all heard of “playing dumb,” but it is interesting that Wilson credits a particular form of ditziness with just women. Maybe Wilson is just trying to be kind to Deyn, who may have just been nervous or–as previously mentioned–high as a kite. (To be fair, I’ve read plenty of interviews with Deyn and she has never come off quite as shallow and strange as she did in this interview.) However, we have seen some female actresses who claim to “speak their mind” and consider themselves smart get some pretty harsh reactions (however justified those reactions may be) from the public when they start breaking down the PR filter. On the other hand, public ditzes like Paris Hilton and Heidi Montag are more famous for being hated than having a brand that anyone would ostensibly want to buy from. So, is it true that women (particularly pretty women) put on a dumb act in order to make themselves more universally appealing? And if so, why?
I’m sure there are a few feminists who are getting ready to shout: “It’s the patriarchy, stupid!” Well, maybe it is! Maybe dumb pretty women are easier to tolerate and pose less of a threat to our society. We don’t have to worry about Agyness Deyn possessing a soul or having informed opinions because she is essentially a well-dressed hanger with a blonde pixie cut. It goes along with another stereotype in our society that women who are interested in clothes and fashion are stupid. That is certainly one misogynistic stereotype that I see some self-proclaimed feminists encouraging. Surely a girl who likes clothes wouldn’t be able to be interested in anything of substance, right?
Maybe stupid women are easier to dismiss when they get in the way. It was certainly easy for everyone to jump on the bandwagon and assume that Sarah Palin (or Sotomayor) was dumb. So, if women supposedly use vapidness as a crutch to protect themselves from criticism, why is stupidity such an easy thing to criticize women for? When put in real, adult situations, I know (or rather, hope) that the last thing women want to be considered is “sweet but dumb.” That isn’t to say that I haven’t known some girls who have tried to act like an air head to seem more likable, but those type of girls usually prove themselves to be well, genuinely dumb, in the end.
I can’t say what the reason behind Deyn’s slightly loopy interview was, but if she was using ditziness as a way to get out of oversharing or putting herself up for criticism that is just, well, dumb.