Jennifer Lawrence was heavily criticised over a comment she made to host Joanna Lumley at the BAFTA Awards – but the actress has now responded with a pretty brilliant explanation.
Over the last few years, research has found that, for women, there’s nothing quite as terrible as being seen as cocky or too confident. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many of us find it incredibly hard to take a compliment.
“In our culture, there is this unspoken rule that women are supposed to be modest,” Alyson Lanier, a psychotherapist and life coach in Wilmington, North Carolina, tells Women’s Health. “If we accept a compliment fully, the fear is that it’s going to come off as bragging.”
It seems as if award-winning actresses are no different – as we saw firsthand at the BAFTAs on Sunday (18 Feb).
During the show, Jennifer Lawrence was welcomed on to the stage by Joanna Lumley, who – clearly a fan of The Hunger Games star – couldn’t resist peppering her introduction with compliments.
“And we start with the award for Outstanding British Film and who better to kick the whole evening off than the hottest actress on the planet?” Lumley said.
“Soon to be seen in Red Sparrow, it’s the ravishing Jennifer Lawrence.”
Lawrence then appeared on stage, seemingly embarrassed by the glowing praise, and said: “Hi. That was a bit much, but thank you, Joanna.”
So far, so normal/awkward. Yet, despite the fact that numerous social experiments have found that nothing annoys people quite so much as whole-heartedly accepting a compliment, it appears that not accepting one is also a massive no-no.
It wasn’t long before fans and viewers took to social media to accuse Lawrence of being rude toward Lumley, with some even labelling the actress a “spoiled brat” and “Miss Arrogance.”
It seems as if women truly are faced by a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ dilemma every single day of the week – a fact which Lawrence herself has now raised.
“Everybody thought that I was being rude,” she told Ronan Keating on the Magic Radio Breakfast show. “But to be fair, I couldn’t have just walked out after she was like, ‘biggest movie star in the world!’ If I’d just walked out and gone ‘thank you Joanna, it would have been like, ‘so you agree? You think you’re really pretty!’”
Lawrence also revealed that her comment was based on a joke she had shared with Lumley just moments before the introduction took place.
“It was an inside joke,” the actress explained.
“She went on and said all these really nice things about me and then when I got up to the podium, I was like, ‘that was a bit much’. After I just spent all backstage telling her how to be really nice to me. I wasn’t being rude, it was an inside joke.”
We’ve said it before and we’ve said it again: if we truly want women to be more confident – and for them to be able to express that confidence in a way that creates meaningful change – then we need to start by creating a culture that values self-assured women. That values their voices. That encourages them to speak out. And that doesn’t seek to demean them as “smug” and “bossy” when they do.
That way, maybe we’ll be feel empowered enough to accept a compliment – without fear of a ridiculous and overblown backlash.
Images: Rex Features