Winona Forever

Winona Ryder

Marc Jacobs has announced Winona Ryder as his new beauty muse. For Hadley Freeman, it’s a no brainer.

In my dreams, I look like Winona Ryder. In my reality, on a good day, I look like the teenager from the film of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. Ever since I first saw Winona in the undeservedly little seen and totally brilliant film, Lucas, when I was nine and she was 15, she has always been, the paragon of female beauty to me.

Sure, I’ve had girl crushes on plenty of beautiful women in my time – Katharine Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Pam Grier, Julie Christie, Marilyn Monroe – but it’s Winona that I adore the most, probably because I can relate to her that little bit more. Unlike the the aforementioned superhuman beauties, Ryder just looks that bit more real, like someone you could realistically be best friends with in school only to realise one day that you are best friends with one of the most beautiful women in the world. The other women are like amazing paintings you might see in the Tate Modern: astonishing, sure, but you can’t really imagine them in your home. Plus she’s Jewish, and there aren’t enough Jewish beauty icons out there for fellow Jewesses like me to idolise (I do not count Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson here because they, like Hepburn et al, are just too superhumanly beautiful for me to feel anything other than distant admiration).

In the 90s Winona was the face of female beauty, even if she herself never seemed to believe it, always hiding behind Johnny Depp, who was similarly uncomfortable with his ridiculously perfect looks. That only made me love her more and I get angry – actually angry – at the thought that a stupid moment of shoplifting – shoplifting! For God’s sake, shoplifting! – has scuppered her once A-list career. Wes Anderson, can you please give this woman a role?

Of late, Ryder has grown out her hair and favours a red lip, but my preferred Winona look is when her hair is just above her shoulders with a bit of a fringe and artfully scruffy (I’ve spent years failing to perfect the artfully scruffy Winona look), with plenty of kohl and mascara, like this and this. My favourite photo of her is one in which she appears to be wearing nothing but a bit of eyeliner, her hair tumbling back, while Depp kisses her nose . Personally, I think Depp took a step down when, after they broke up, he moved on with some chick from Croydon. He may have then doctored his tattoo to read “Wino Forever”, but my feelings are not so easily altered. For me, it will always be Winona Forever.


Hadley Freeman’s book, Be Awesome, is available now.

This article was previously posted in 2013 and has been updated.

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  • jen pobble

    Love this. I totally wanted to be her, and made my Dad sneak me into the cinema to see “Mermaids” even though it was (gasp) a 15 and I was about 11.

  • Sali Hughes

    I loved her, still do. FFS why isn’t she starring in films anymore? Such a good actress.

  • Jenna

    OMG I LOVE WINONA! She is just so interesting, fragile, amazing and talented. I love her look, the old and the new. I think the red lip really suits her. Her performance in Black Swan was so good! Ah…. WINONA FOREVER

  • Katie Faulkner

    I love this. I also love Winona Ryder and Christian Bale as Jo and Laurie in Little Women. SO ADORABLE.

    • Jenna


      • Milko

        totally agree

    • Amy

      Oh my gosh…YES!

    • Rachel Grundy

      100% yes. Always identified with Jo in the book, LOVE Winona. She rocks.

  • Sherry Trifle

    Could not agree more. Winona forever

  • KatInEurope

    You should all check out her interview in this month’s errr “Interview”, the pictures are stunning and it is quite an illuminating piece. Enjoy!

  • BlueBeretMum

    She has always been my favourite! Such a classic beauty – in my head I too look like Winona. In reality… been compared to Björk’s distant cousin once..say no more – sticking to the image in my head :-)

  • MsMouse

    YES! Winona Ryder has long been who I would choose to look like if I ever got a fairy godmother. Not a bad actress, either. :}

  • Kate

    Lauren Bacall? Mila Kunis? Rachel Weisz? Not Jewish enough for you? Or also too beautiful. If you’re going to discount the ‘too beautiful’, how will you find any beauty icons?

    • Sali Hughes

      Hadley means they’re so classically beautiful that they are almost other worldly and she can’t identify with them. Her point about Winona being more like someone you went to school with was one I understood completely.

      • Kate Oneffyou

        I get that point. I’m just querying the lack of “Jewish beauty icons” – if the ones I mentioned don’t count either, who on earth *would* have a chance? For my money, incidentally, Winona is dims-the-sum-by-comparison balls-out beautiful too. But maybe your school was a bit prettier.

  • Dolly Bellfield

    an ex of mine would make me watch endless repeats of the film where she did the shoop shoop song and sigh longingly at the TV. Im over that now I like her… it seems a lifetime ago she was engaged to mr depp.

  • Milko

    I loved her and Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites. I totally wanted her ‘look’ back then!

  • Kendal

    I don’t think it was the shoplifting, per se that broke her career. It was the apparent nervous breakdown, of which the shoplifting was one symptom.

  • tracyK

    Plus, despite being so beautiful, she was believable as “the outsider” in Heathers, Beatlejuice, Mermaids, etc. I wasn’t so stuck on her as a blonde cheerleader type in Edward Scissorhands. Coconuts banging together, Hadley.

  • Natalie

    I think this totally fits with Sali’s point in the Elizabeth Taylor video about people having icons that are a bit like themselves. I can totally see a similarity between Hadley & Winona. Watch out Depp! (But no shoplifting please Hadley.)

  • Lindsay Dickinson

    Oh god YES. WINONA FOREVER. Loved her then, love her now. I wanted her style so badly. One of my most disastrous haircuts came after I saw Reality Bites and I asked the hairdresser to cut my REALLY thick hair into a pixie cut like hers – I left looking more like Ringo Starr!

  • Rooty Tooty

    Holy cow that photo of her with Depp is stunning. Yep, love her. She is someone you just warm to, and can imagine knowing. The film industry has missed out not having her around so much.

  • Kate Kitchendisco

    Love Winona.

  • Kate Kitchendisco

    And anyone who doesn’t bother with a hairbrush is a beauty icon of mine. *side eye in mirror*

  • JulieS

    Oh I LOVED that photo, had it on my wall in my halls of residence bedroom :) Happy days!

  • Tess McGill

    Rewatched Mermaids the other day and reminded myself of my Winona love. Excellent facial expressions.

    Also Hadley your book is brilliant, really really enjoying it, so thanks for that and for the above

  • Dolly Daydreem

    Yes – someone give her a decent role, she needs to be on our screens again!

  • Anna Maria Tuckett

    I do agree with almost everything Hadley says, with the exception of Portman and Johansson being “too” beautiful. They are both stunning, yes, but also short (as is Winona), which makes them more “imperfect” than, say, Charlize Theron – to me, her beauty is truly superhuman, as you can achieve a slim figure even if you are short, but you can’t grow taller, with long, lithe limbs.

  • eureka

    reality bites.

  • eureka
  • Maria Ingmar Sandoval

    Nice article. I’m also an admirer.

  • jen pobble

    So true, love Winona. Love Hadley too xx

  • the snark

    Yas Hadley, yas.

  • Bleeping Bobby

    It is more her personality that gave her beauty an exquisite expression that are astounding people all around the world. The same goes for Johny Deep. Great personality! I also like her co-star Christian Slater in Heathers, he is also a great person to meet.You just feel you can discuss with them just like you would with a good actor/director from theatre hall performance if a moment given for fans.They are people with whom you can relate to. At the end of the day, we all are acting our lives.

  • Dee

    Actors of fully Jewish background: Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julian Morris, Adam Brody, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Gabriel Macht, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lisa Kudrow, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Debra Messing, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Margarita Levieva, Elizabeth Berkley, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Corey Stoll, Mia Kirshner, Alden Ehrenreich, Debra Winger, Eric Balfour, Emory Cohen, Jason Isaacs, Jon Bernthal, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy.

    Andrew Garfield and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are Jewish, too (though I don’t know if both of their parents are).

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Joaquin Phoenix, River Phoenix, Emmy Rossum, Ryan Potter, Rashida Jones, Jennifer Connelly, Sofia Black D’Elia, Nora Arnezeder, Goldie Hawn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Peet, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman, Ben Barnes, Patricia Arquette, Kyra Sedgwick, Dave Annable, and Harrison Ford (whose maternal grandparents were both Jewish, despite those Hanukkah Song lyrics).

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, Nicola Peltz, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Winona Ryder, Michael Douglas, Ben Foster, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz, Paul Newman.

    Oh, and Ansel Elgort’s father is Jewish, though I don’t know how Ansel was raised. Robert Downey, Jr. and Sean Penn were also born to Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers. Armie Hammer and Chris Pine are part Jewish.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism: Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

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