Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan of the acclaimed novel-turned-film, “The Help,” makes unconventional beauty truly stunning. Emma Stone may be the star of the movie, but her hair could be considered her co-star. And like many women, Skeeter doesn’t love her hair.In the film, the relationship between Skeeter and her hair symbolizes how she finds the strength to be true to herself, a journey that actress Emma Stone brings to life.Stone, who you know from movies such as “Easy A” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (and who was just tapped to be a face of Revlon, joining the likes of Halle Berry and Jessica Alba), gives an exclusive interview for YouBeauty, explaining how her character develops confidence with help from strong women in her life. These women ignite Skeeter’s passion for writing, courageously sharing their stories about being housemaids for white families in 1960s Mississippi.
Skeeter is hung up on her mother’s picture of perfection, namely smooth hair and an engagement ring—two things Skeeter lacks.“I think at the beginning, understandably, she is deeply affected by her appearance and her mother’s disapproval of it,” Emma Stone told us of Skeeter.
Skeeter returns to Jackson an aspiring writer, thinking she has outgrown her hometown faster than her childhood clothes. (In fact, she feels awkward about her height, and tries to downplay it by wearing flat shoes.) However, she quickly feels pressure from the cookie-cutter standards of her town. Enter the “Magic Soft and Silky Shinalator,” a two-hour hair straightening process involving creams, and a plastic cap attached to a hose.
Her overbearing mother attempts to control Skeeter’s frizz (and future) through the Shinalator, and Skeeter is momentarily mesmerized by its fleeting promise of a tame mane. But rather than turn to her mother as her beauty inspiration, Skeeter remembers her housemaid Constantine.“
Skeeter was lucky enough to have Constantine, who reminded her that she was beautiful and smart and could choose her life,” Stone says.Skeeter begins following her own ambition, which—no shocker—doesn’t involve snagging a husband.With spirit and a dash of naiveté, Skeeter opens her eyes to what housemaids such as Aibileen and Minny experience working for women like Skeeter’s mother. Skeeter starts to collect their stories for a book.
Stone believes that “Skeeter really begins to shine and feel beautiful when she is doing what she loves—writing.”
Immersed in the confidence of the brave women around her, Skeeter “realizes the true nature of her beauty—wild, free, different than the other girls—and incredibly special,” Stone says. “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.”
An inside look at Skeeter’s beauty transformation
Skeeter is not the only woman who has trouble accepting her hair.“So many of us grow up and say our hair’s too curly or too straight. We’re constantly told in our lives we’re not good enough based on our hair… Skeeter’s the same girl,” says Camille Friend, Hair Department head for “The Help.”
Camille Friend helped create Skeeter’s different looks with two wigs. Skeeter’s natural hair is “the hero” curly wig. The hair department blew out and set the “The Shinalator” wig, to show Skeeter after the de-frizzing treatment. Trying to get hair super smooth is high maintenance, even for the most-skilled professionals.“As Skeeter became more confident, we lengthened her hair,” says Friend. “She wore her hair naturally and her clothes got a little better. She wore heels and started putting on a little more makeup,” Friend adds.Skeeter comes into her own, embracing her natural hair and height. She rejects society’s ideal of beauty and begins to define her own sense of it.
Embrace your wave
These days, women work against their natural look at high costs. Today’s Brazilian blowout is a tedious straightening method akin to Skeeter’s Shinalator treatment (and likely just as dangerous, as it contains formaldehyde).
People still associate silky strands with success and beauty. Writer Judith Newman speaks of “Straight Hair Envy” in the New York Times. She recounts how Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker” told her clients that “…to be a dream girl you need straight, long, silky humidity-resistant hair.”But if you’re straightening your hair at the risk of your sanity and the health of your hair, you won’t be doing your beauty any favors.“Love your hair and it will love you back,” Friend promises.
At the end of the day, whatever message is programmed into your head about what beautiful hair is (be it a mom or the Millionaire Matchmaker), you can change it.“Confidence is the only key. I know a lot of people who aren’t traditionally ‘beautiful’—not symmetrical or perfect-bodied or perfect-skinned. But none of that matters because all that shines through is their confidence, humor and comfort with themselves,” says Stone.Skeeter teaches us that it’s OK to want to primp yourself, but you will not be able to achieve your full beauty potential until you find what makes you radiate.
GALLERY: Celebrities Who Embrace Their Curly Hairstyles“If you know yourself and what you’re meant to do and you find a passion and purpose in life, that is true beauty,” Stone says.