If I see another Holly Golightly poster on a bedroom wall, I am going to scream.
I just have to come out and say it: I am so done with the endless idolizing of Holly. I know she’s iconic and so is “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn. But Holly is the last female movie character any woman should seriously want to emulate in real life and it really bothers me that she has become such a widespread role model.
I have no qualms with Audrey Hepburn herself. She did a wonderful job with the role she was asked to play — who is really nothing more than a tragic hot mess.
Holly Golightly, in case you have not read the Truman Capote novel or seen the film, is a high-end escort living and working in New York City, wooing her wealthy male clients for their money and hoping against hope one of them will marry her so she’ll be financially set forever. She’s is an aimless, lost woman who has no sense of self-worth and puts on a false air of being someone cooler than she really is. For what, validation? To escape herself? Sounds admirable. Holly can’t get through the most basic parts of her day without forgetting things or getting sidetracked, and when she’s reprimanded for it we’re supposed to see it as endearing. She uses others who are charmed by her to do her bidding for her. The girl is miserable with both herself and her life. Holly basically makes a living off the opinions of others.
On top of it, she’s a financial mess. We’re supposed to look up to this? Her life is sad, not cute. She bases her entire identity on the men in her life, defining who she is based on her connections with the narrator Paul, her wealthy fiancee, and the many other millionaires she spends her time around. She plots the day she can marry a man for his money. She is waiting on a knight in shining armor, but in a much more dismal way than most. She wants to be rescued in a way that nobody can — she wants someone to make her a completely different person, someone she actually likes. Holly abandoned her old life (minor spoiler alerts ahead) and sure enough, everything she ran away from caught up to her. She even abandons her cat!
Something I hear a lot when people talk about this movie is that Audrey is a classic beauty. But if the reason we’re supposed to accept Holly’s flaws is that she’s beautiful, then we’ve got an issue because that’s just insulting. If it’s her free spirit that you love, there are plenty of other characters in the world who can offer you that — without so much baggage. By idolizing Holly/Audrey, we’re glamorizing all the pitfalls that she fell victim to. Feeling empty and unhappy with yourself is not so stylish once you actually get there, and neither is using other people. No amount of nice clothes or good looks will make emptiness go away.
Look, I’m a girl, I get it. There are a lot of things to love about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: the timeless style, the fantasy of a carefree life, the beautiful views of New York, the gorgeous music, and of course that opening scene. But Holly as a heroine is not one of them. We can sympathize with her and we probably should. We can even see parts of ourselves in her and feel comforted. But striving to be her? No way. Women, we are better than this! How did we get caught up in thinking that Holly’s miserable, frazzled story could possibly be something we desire?
Email me at Claire.Hannum@TheFrisky.com.