Ever since our first-ever viewing of Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald's mega-watt smile and trademark auburn strands marked her as a hair and makeup muse. But what really makes the star beautiful is the spirit, drive, and tenacity instilled in her by her family. At Dove's #BeautyStory event in New York City last week, the star teamed up with storytelling troupe The Moth to share a piece she wrote on how her mother and father's loving relationship impacted her views of what beauty truly means (you better believe we were tearing up after her touching narrative!), and encouraged women everywhere to share their own #BeautyStory to Facebook and Twitter. Ringwald chatted with us moments before taking the stage to share her views on the current standards of beauty, the legacy of her '80s film roles, and what to expect from the upcoming Jem and the Holograms live-action movie. Keep reading to get the details, then head over to dove.us to see all of the #BeautyStory submissions so far, and to post your own!
What was your reaction when Dove asked you to participate in the Storytellers event?
For me, it was really exciting because Dove is one of those brands I really feel is sending a positive message out to women and kids especially. Our children, the girls and boys, are just bombarded with these messages of this ideal of beauty you can’t possibly live up to—they use models that represent maybe 3% of the population, and then airbrush them. One of my favorite stories is when I was living in France, there was this ad and it’s supposed to be a girl from the neck down, but they used a young adolescent boy’s body, so it’s things like that—putting out those messages. Dove is one brand that counteracts that, and I love that they use real women and real bodies to demonstrate what beauty really means. It’s something that comes from within. They’re pairing with The Moth, which is such a natural fit because I’ve been a Moth storyteller for a long time.
What was it like putting your story together?
It was nice, it’s a story that I’ve told a lot to just friends, because for me, it’s a story about what love and beauty really is, and it’s also a story about my parents. I’ve never told it in public before!
Do you have beauty advice that they passed on to you?
The biggest piece of beauty advice my parents passed on to me is to have confidence in something other than beauty so the focus wasn’t so much on how I looked. Because, as anybody knows, beauty and that physical perfection—whatever that is—is ephemeral. It never lasts, and it’s something that is constantly changing and evolving. It’s more important to focus on what’s inside. That’s what I tell my kids, and that’s what I try to tell myself, because I get bombarded with messages too. I’m a working actress in Hollywood and I’m over 40; you get these messages like, “You’re done, you’re done” and I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s important to stay focused on what really matters, which is your life, a beating heart, an active brain, so that’s my biggest advice. And don’t shave your eyebrows! They never grow back the same, if they do at all.
How do you find the standards of beauty in France different from the American standards of beauty when you were living out there?
So different! We have this fantasy of this perfect, beautiful and blonde Marilyn Monroe image. Not to say Marilyn Monroe wasn’t intelligent because she was, but the focus in France was more on a woman’s intelligence, and imperfections were celebrated more. I never liked my freckles growing up until I moved to France. Things were geared more toward lifestyle and exercising because you’re running and playing sports, doing something you really love, rather than exercising for the sake of getting a certain line on your arm. It seemed much more organic.
So many of your roles over the years have had such an effect on everyone who grew up watching you, myself included. Did you realize at the time you were leaving this legacy that would almost define a generation?
No, not at all! I knew I liked the movies and that they were special, I loved doing them, but I had no idea that all these years later we’d still be talking about them! I never imagined it, but I’m psyched about it. It’s really sweet.
Has your daughter seen any of your films from that era?
She did recently. I showed her Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink when she was younger, and I showed her The Breakfast Club pretty recently. She’s still pretty young for that movie, but all of her friends had seen it.
From a style perspective, did you relate to any of the roles the most?
I actually picked out my clothes for The Breakfast Club. There was a wardrobe person there, but everything they showed me didn’t really work. They were in L.A. and we were shooting in Chicago, so I talked to John [Hughes] about the character and how the options weren’t her at all, and he said, “Well, let’s go find something.” So I picked out all of the clothes for that character, but I liked all of the looks. Pretty In Pink was really collaborative, and all of the costumers actually were pretty collaborative with me.
You’re so known for your red hair—were people so shocked when you went blonde?
I know! It’s kind of nice, I’m not immediately as recognizable which is kind of fun for me, but now I’ve had it long enough that people are kind of used to it. But I feel a little bit like an impostor – I don’t totally feel like myself. It’s fine, I like it, but I still feel a little bit like a character! I went back to red for a while, but I’m going back to do some additional filming for a movie I’m doing, Jem and the Holograms. Literally a week after I went back to red, I had to go back to this!
We’re all so excited about Jem and the Holograms. Can you talk a little about it?
Yeah! I’m sort of the mother figure. The character is Aunt Bailey, and then all the girls live with me. The messages in the movie are really positive. Juliette Lewis plays the villain, and she’s fantastic. It was a really fun shoot, and I think people are going to like it.