• 04.21.16

Wince At The Awful Prevalence Of The “Headless Female Body” Movie Poster Trope

The Headless Women of Hollywood examines a peculiar poster cliche: putting only the torsos, backs, butts, and legs of women on display.

Sometimes it seems like movie posters are all the same, but that’s just a side effect of repetition. In truth, there are many flavors of terrible in the movie poster rainbow. A new tumblr is devoted to exploring one particular trend that stands out like a sore thumb—or, rather, like a pert butt.


The Headless Women of Hollywood takes an unflattering look at the male gaze in action. Some of these posters feature only words laid over the torsos, backs, butts, and legs of women; others feature members of the cast in miniature somewhere beneath them, as though about to get attacked by a lady colossus. In all cases, though, the inclusion of the large-scale female form seems intended to suggest “Don’t worry, there are definitely unfettered boobs in this film.”

While the blog devotes one entry to acknowledging that men are sometimes the ones who suffer poster-based decapitation, the evidence suggests it’s more of an “exception proving the rule” kind of thing. In any case, the tumblr unfortunately provides an accurate reflection of an industry filled with so many one-dimensional female characters who have not very much to say. Insert your own exasperated sigh here.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.