Lisa Markwell: New talent comes in more than one shape or size


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The Independent Online

Breasts continue to be debated, frequently in an unhelpful way, most often by people who don't have them; photographs of women on holiday are making great sport for headlines about shifting weight for the New Year; and – although it's funny – the viral video doing the rounds for a fake beauty ad for an improving product called "Fotoshop, by Adobé" has a shifty undertone about a lady's supposed obsession with looking perfect.

So, not a great week to be a woman. And now we get the shortlist for the Orange Rising Star award at the forthcoming Baftas. All five on the list are male.

I don't often get all hurrumph-ish about such matters and the idea of quotas makes me feel distinctly uneasy, but 2011 wasn't exactly a year without stellar film performances by women. Let's look back... Since Bafta doesn't limit its award to those born in the UK, there's no reason to exclude the dazzling Emma Stone, Noomi Rapace, Jennifer Lawrence, Rooney Mara, Chloe Moretz, Hailee Steinfeld or Jessica Chastain.

From arthouse fare like The Tree of Life and True Grit to multiplex pleasers like Hugo and Sherlock Holmes, they have delighted us.

Let's suppose we had to choose from home talent. What about Felicity Jones or Saoirse Ronan? This year's most versatile actress on the up escalator is Olivia Colman, wry and warm in Rev, quaking and damaged in Tyrannosaur.

Unlike many awards at this time of year (whose main criteria for winning is sentiment and past glories), these women are bursting with potential – I can't wait to see what all of the above do next, from kids'-movie-for-adults The Hunger Games (Lawrence) to the heartbreaking Like Crazy (Jones).

Apart from their towering talent, one thing I've noticed about all of these women is that not one of them looks in the least "surgically enhanced". They are all exquisite, of course, but not necessarily in the way that conforms to the tired old "blonde, pneumatic". Wouldn't it be marvellous if these women, hugely admired by cinema-goers, if not the Bafta judges, finally turned attention away from cookie-cutter beauty and towards celebrating what comes naturally? And if, as a by-product, breast enhancement returned to a service for medical reasons, due to lack of interest.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that yesterday lunchtime I went to buy my 13-year-old daughter a bra – not as an affectation. She needs one.

The bras in the range for youngsters were almost all quite substantially padded. Still, after years of complaints from parents. Ugh.