Oscar winner Sandra Bullock’s recent split with husband Jesse James garnered a lot of negative attention the world over. Bullock was aghast when she learnt that her husband was cheating on her. She is reportedly contemplating a divorce. But once people were done dissecting what went wrong with Bullock’s marriage, another realisation dawned — that Bullock is not the first Oscar winner to split with her better half, soon after bringing home the golden beauty.
Join the club
In fact, a little research shows that actors Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet’s marriages met with similar fate, soon after they bagged the coveted award. The list is long enough to brandish this phenomenon as ‘the curse of the Oscar’. So, is it that Oscar-winning women cannot handle success, or just that the Oscar is cursed?
Practicing clinical psychologist, Hemalatha S, says that the term is just an outlet for the media to thrive on more stories. But as she dissects women achievers, it is clear that one of the dominant traits of the species is that they know exactly what they want, in their careers, relationships and life, in general.
“Women achievers — and I don’t just mean those who have won Oscars — are very assertive. They know what exactly works for them and what doesn’t,” says Hemalatha. “More than a curse, this phenomenon symbolises the fact that these women chose to end a relationship they were not happy with. I commend that. But if they split just because they were on a power trip, they need help,” says Hemalatha.
Too much pressure
Her contemporary, Gayatri Balasubramanian, however, says that it is quite possible that women achievers don’t feel the need to put up with a bad relationship. “In a way, success empowers women to take the bold step of walking out of a relationship or a marriage,” says Balasubramaniam. “More than acquiring the courage to walk out, a celebrity achiever is also afraid of the embarrassment he or she will face, if the stress they’ve had to put up with at home comes to light,” says Balasubramaniam.
Hemalatha conversely feels that while success plays a major role in making relationships, it is not such an important factor in breaking the same. “I’m sure this is not the first break up for either of these women. So, let’s not blame the Oscar,” she laughs.
Winning an Oscar, Balasubramaniam says, is a gigantic achievement and along with it comes added public pressure. “Celebrities are always conscious of what they do. They have to do a lot of soul searching to find out who they really are, because mostly they are trying to live up to an image,” she says, adding that marriages are definitely not made in heaven and everyone, including a celebrity, has to work on it to make it a success.