The Compost – Avatar star discusses downside of 3-D womanhood


Avatar celebrity and Na’vi native, Neytiri, will appear at a roundtable discussion hosted by SPEAK in conjunction with the Year of Social Change this Friday. The talk will address pressures Neytiri faced being a 3-D woman in Hollywood – from the eating disorder that maintained her svelte 9’10” frame, to the objectification of her as a result of her blueness, to the sex tape spliced into scenes of the award-nominated movie.

“The movie certainly exploited Na’vi feminist culture,” Neytiri said. “Na’vi women are naturally curvy, but Cameron had us on a strict diet of luminescent leaves and air jellyfish. It was unnatural. They treated me like I was a different species or something.”

Cameron allegedly exaggerated Neytiri’s more exotic quality for the role of the indigenous “other,” forcing Neytiri and the Na’vi extras to strip down to their loin cloths and get spray tanned a deeper blue.

“We don’t normally look like this,” Neytiri said. “And Pandora is totally fictional. Many of us [Na’vi] live in Pittsburgh, though I have family in Chicago.”

Chicago native Ryann Wahl, ’10 was also disturbed by the hyper-sexualized portrayal of Na’vi women.

“I just think it’s absolutely appalling,” Wahl said. “You know, it’s films like these and media portrayls like these that make me look in the mirror every day and say, ‘Why can’t I have ears like a cat? Why can’t my skin glitter? Why can’t I be as limber as Gumby?’ You know, that’s in now.” - Character from Avatar to visit campus

Neytiri thinks her altered appearance was less a commentary on environmental degradation, as critics have suggested, but more an attempt to exploit Na’vi women as an unattainable ideal for Western women. Her stance is complicated, however, by the sex tape that was leaked by Cameron. Sources say he blurred the private footage of Neytiri and her then-boyfriend, Naykime, and passed the scene off as a love scene between Neytiri and Avatar Jake Sully.

Neytiri had no comment on the subject of the sex tape.

The roundtable discussion is scheduled for 1 p.m. in CC 301/302.