Let me share with you the tale of Lawrence’s journey to becoming a renowned female movie star. However, it’s not just a success story, it also highlights the downside of having an image that can hinder one’s growth.
Jennifer Lawrence hit her peak of popularity as the “Cool Girl” four years and eight days ago. This happened after her press tours for “American Hustle” and “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” when she was just 23 years old. During this time, she gained notoriety for being charmingly clumsy, oversharing in public, and casually mentioning things like butt plugs. Her behavior perfectly embodied Gillian Flynn’s concept of the “cool girl” from her novel “Gone Girl”. The cool girl is a mix of feminism and passivity, confidence and femininity – she wants to hang out with the guys and never nags or asks for just one chili fry.
Lawrence has never portrayed the role of a ‘Cool Girl’ on screen, whether it be in blockbuster movies such as The Hunger Games and X-Men or indie films like Winter’s Bone. Her collaborations with David O. Russell in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle had her playing female antagonists who were far from being unchill. Despite this, Lawrence indulged in non-Cool Girl behavior off-screen. However, her actions that seemed to affirm her Cool Girl persona, such as drinking champagne straight from the bottle on a picnic or freaking out when Jack Nicholson congratulated her at the Oscars, became famous GIFs and headlines, thus giving proof of the authenticity of the image. A star’s image is not necessarily who they are but a collection of curated moments, phrases, and photos. Lawrence’s ideal and this image took a life of its own, with articles revolving around it and late-night interviews pivoting on it. It fed on itself, generating more content to maintain the public’s understanding of Cool Girl-ness as emblematic of J. Law. This cycle is sustainable for stars like Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks, but for someone like Lawrence, it can become an albatross as her image was formed based on a few behaviors during her early rise to superstardom.
In 2014, Jennifer Lawrence appeared to fully embrace the persona that had developed around her. Prior to her starring role in The Hunger Games, she had been marketed as a youthful and gifted actress, often appearing in magazines like Esquire with a demure gaze and restrained demeanor when dealing with the media. However, around 2012, something changed. It seems that if fans enjoyed her quirky anecdotes, she saw no reason not to share more. And if drinking champagne endeared her to the public, then she was happy to indulge.
The moments that were once endearing and GIF-worthy for Jennifer Lawrence began to lose their natural appeal, especially after she fell at the 2014 Oscars. People on Twitter asked if it was still charming if she fell without an audience to witness it. Her “Cool Girl” image started to feel calculated and forced, a stark contrast to her previously effortless persona. It appeared that she might be performing a shtick, which is not uncommon for public figures. However, women are often criticized for trying too hard or being fake when they have a discernible public persona, while men are labeled as corny.
Despite making significant decisions and statements that should complicate it, the Cool Girl image that formed around Jennifer Lawrence has proven challenging to shake. At 27 years old, Lawrence is one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, having won awards and amassed great wealth as an actor. Nonetheless, she is still not taken seriously by some due to the ease with which the Cool Girl image is both loved and dismissed. For many, Lawrence’s peak moment is still climbing over seats with a glass of wine at the Oscars, rather than her actual achievements, such as winning an Oscar and being nominated for three more. This is not only the story of Lawrence’s rise to become the biggest female star in the world, but also a cautionary tale about how an image can become a prison, particularly for young women in Hollywood.