The Woman Who Could Do It All… Barbra Streisand

Nov 19, 2020 | Culture

As I came to write this article, the voice in my head went “here we go another gay man expresseing his love for Barbra Streisand. Why not get Richard E. Grant to write this?” The reason for this being is that he has a six foot marble statue of her in his garden. So maybe he is more qualified to write this? But in my defence, I have been deemed by Spotify as one of Barbra’s top 1% of fans, so I guess I can speak about her with some validity? 

Streisand was one of the first women to truly embody the multi-hyphenate. Singer, Actress, Filmmaker and Activist. She is the master of all my great loves, music, art, theatre, film and fashion. She was never content with just succumbing to one discipline. What I admire most about her was the courage she took when asserting herself as a director. Her first film, Yentl, took fourteen years to film primarily because the movie execs didn’t have faith in her because of her gender. This was incredibly ironic because the plot of the film lies in the idea of the different expectations placed on men and women. However she persevered and created a piece that spoke of historical Jewishness, womanhood and overcoming stereotypes. These issues were incredibly important to discuss and she created a platform for them to do so. The film also spoke to a wider LGBTQ+ audience, Laverne Cox speaks eloquently about this in the documentary ‘Disclosure’, as Yentl dresses as a man to study to Talmud and in turn transcends gender.

She is also heralded as a fashion icon because she has always recognised the storytelling and art form it evokes. Her most iconic roles have accompanied the most memorable outfits, for instance the coordinated leopard print hat and coat combo she wore as Fanny Brice or the Lingerie set she wears in The Owl and the Pussycat adorned with hands stitched onto the bra. Simply, she is an editorial dream. I have never known anyone else to flawlessly execute such an array of distinct styles over the decades, some of my favourites are her Sixties voluminous bob to the Disco perm she adorned whilst singing with Donna Summer. Of course we cannot not mention the musical body of work she has produced over decades, it is simply unparalleled. Be it in the world of Musical Theatre, Pop and of course Disco! And that is why as a hopeless romantic, there is no discography that satisfies like a Streisand sing-along. Last year, I was blessed enough to see her perform live. I can’t even stress to you how special that day was. I went with my closest friends and we just wept tears of joy and held each other as we experienced her excellence. Whilst also laughing hysterically as she pushed on her beloved dogs in a pram at the end of the performance. Okay, back to her ballads, there is just no one who can emote a love song like she can. So girlies, if you haven’t heard the Streisand version of A Star is Born, I urge you to do so. Oh, and while you’re at it watch the film A Mirror has Two Faces, if you want to see Babs as a gorgeous English Literature professor fall for a man in Stem!
Barbra to me is a symbol of self confidence. She is Rose quartz in human form. Her impact reminds me about the importance of self love. Embracing the elements of her being that made her unique, the fact she didn’t embody the ideal of American beauty, (I don’t understand how). How she never agreed to get a nose job or hide her Jewishness. And that she never let her womanhood stop her from gaining her own autonomy in a then and still to some extent now, male dominated industry. This is why I adore her so much, because of her ability to undoubtedly be herself. This quality is something I work towards everyday and as I have begun to navigate my twenties, I know the importance of this quality. And that is why if you pick my phone the first thing you’ll see is a picture of her and Timothée Chalamet (because obviously!) looking up at you smiling to remind me of that fact. 

Written by George Clark