Fashion & Beauty / AnOther Woman

Provocation and Poise: In Praise of Meryl Streep

In light of her impassioned speech at this week's Golden Globes, we pay homage to one of Hollywood’s brightest stars

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Meryl Streep© Henry Wolf, 1979

Meryl Streep spoke in a particularly husky tone whilst receiving her lifetime achievement award at the 2017 Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday evening, claiming to have lost her voice through “screaming and lamentation this weekend” (we could certainly relate). But this minor hindrance did not prevent her from delivering the night’s most poignant speech, confessing that she had also misplaced something else recently: her mind. Taking advantage of the opportunity to address a global audience, Streep spoke of the recent events responsible for such a shift; an alarming move towards fascism in mainstream politics and the vilification of particular segments within society – namely, those perceived to be outsiders, the vulnerable, and the principled press.

With her words, she sought to highlight the importance of the pursuit of fact in a ‘post-truth’ era – and the magnificence of cultural diversity. Streep alluded to the art of performance in the fields of acting and politics: for indeed, both actor and politician possess the power to beguile, influence and insult. Throughout her illustrious career on the stage and screen, Streep has notoriously been nominated for 29 Golden Globes (winning eight) and 19 Oscars (winning 3), and although we are unable to honour Meryl with a gilded trophy, we can certainly give her a rightful place in the hallowed hall of AnOther Women, deserved for her talent, her empathy and of course, her cheekbones.

Defining Features
There was a time when Meryl Streep considered herself “too ugly to be an actress” – but through pursuing her craft in the face of insecurity, Streep’s bone structure went on to become one of the most recognisable in celluloid history. With a high forehead, cheekbones that would induce jealousy in a razorblade and a prominent nose that couldn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘rhinoplasty’ if it hit it – well, in the face, Streep is an advocate for body positivity. It’s true to say that her beauty is by no means conventional; but fortunately for us, her genetics threw convention to the wind.

Seminal Moments
Upon enrolling at the Yale School of Drama in 1972, Streep took acting methods into her own hands. While other first-year students instructed to act out a death scene ‘set themselves on fire’ or ‘shot themselves through the temple’, Meryl decided to ‘perform an abortion on herself’. She gained a reputation for being astoundingly intense, with her last name becoming a verb for improving your dramatic technique via the act of ‘Streeping it up’. Ten years later, in 1982, she received the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Sophie Zawistowski in Sophie’s Choice, a role in which she embodied a Holocaust survivor grappling with abusive relationship and the ghosts of Auschwitz. Her characterisation is unequivocally one of the most affecting on-screen performances of all time, and she notoriously mastered the particularly challenging art of speaking German in a Polish accent.

She's an AnOther Woman Because...
Meryl Streep is the personification of the empowerment to be found in following your own path, dedicating yourself to a craft, and pursuing your passions with intensity and vigour. Streep has achieved her revered status not only through sheer talent, but also her staunch position on challenging an industry that notoriously values women below their male counterparts, through an ability to “quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand” what it is she wants. But alongside her unwavering strength, Streep also demonstrates a remarkable empathy with others via her preternatural ability to metamorphose into the characters she portrays. This was echoed in the words she delivered at the Golden Globes, when Streep spoke of the actor’s “only job” being to enter the lives of people who are different and let an audience experience what that might feel like; words that even provoked Mel Gibson to the brink of tears. At a Princeton University conference in 2006, she said, “I've always been drawn to characters who are difficult to translate to other people: prissy women, disagreeable women; women whose motives are easily misconstrued, women who are hard to love.” A sentiment that we couldn’t agree with any more if we tried.