Everybody knows Emilia Clarke. She’s the young actress who played Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO TV adaptation of George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones.
Daenerys Targaryan, in the Game of Thrones books, was 12 years old when she was sold to a warlord and impregnated by him.
To be fair to HBO, they aged up Daenerys in their show from 12 to an older-but-still-underage 16. The storyline was disturbing, however.
The “jailbait” aspect of Daenerys was played to the rafters when the first season of Game of Thrones was released in 2011. Actors and producers talked about Emilia Clarke, the actress who played Daenerys, as if she were a fresh naive young thing just out of school.
In reality Clarke was a fully adult 24 when she started acting in Game of Thrones. Despite Clarke being well into her twenties marketing for some reason kept talking about her as if she were a teenager. Clarke was constantly referred to as “recently graduated” from drama school.
The first episode of Game of Thrones emphasized the youth and helplessness (and nudity) of Daenerys. The audience was treated to long lingering shots of Clarke’s breasts as the actor who played her older brother pawed at her. There were several rape scenes between Daenerys and the adult war lord to whom her brother sells her. Clarke revealed a few days ago that she had been pressured to film very sexualized scenes. “I have had fights on the set before, where I am like, No, the sheet stays up, and they are like, you don’t wanna disappoint your Game Of Thrones fans. And I am like, f*ck you.”
Game of Thrones aged the same way that our views of women aged through the MeToo era. The whole “Well, it’s complicated” aspect of straight-up rape that permeated the first season of Game of Thrones (released in 2011) evolved into a storyline where Daenerys became a dynamic (if, ahem, a bit insane) leader by the end of 2019.
Emilia Clarke herself went through bad times during her filming of the Game of Thrones series. She suffered from two brain aneurysms that caused “quite a bit” of her brain to become nonfunctional.
Despite her disability Clarke has soldiered on and apparently has focussed on the positive in her life. A couple of weeks ago Clarke posted a selfie of her smiling while holding a gift from her mother.
And, like any woman in her thirties, Clarke’s broad grin revealed natural lines around her eyes and the corners of her mouth.
Why oh why can’t hot women just smile like anime heroines: No wrinkles, no disabilities, no trauma, no exhaustion, no reminders to their viewers that hot women are human just like the rest of the planet?
When Emilia Clarke posted her smiling selfie, the comments were cruel. Clarke had “not aged well.” Clarke had “hit a wall.” Clarke was showing why “u wear sunscreen.” A gamer named Jon Miller reposted Clarke’s picture with the words “”Lmao wow Daenerys Targaryen didn’t just hit the wall she flew into it full speed on a dragon 🐉,”
Why are we so angry when beautiful women age?
Why do we hate it when hot babes do things like get brain aneurysms, become disabled, gain weight, reveal wrinkles or even just mention that they are now well over 30?
Are we frightened of our own mortality when the fresh faces we so fetishized show that they have grown older?
Or are we angry when the women we have cast as “jailbait” in our minds display their faces on their own terms: Natural, age-appropriate, and with a huge smile?
Don’t forget the smile.
Happiness is always more important than beauty. And too many women die young in this world for us to NOT celebrate a woman growing older.
Wrinkles are a trophy, not a “wall.”