07/29/2013 01:04 pm ET

Lake Bell, 'In A World' Director, Writer And Star, Thinks There's A Vocal 'Pandemic' Among Young Women


Lake Bell is a little bit worried about young women today. Specifically, their voices.

The actress, who wrote, directed and stars in the upcoming film "In a World," told NPR on July 25 that she's disturbed by what she's coined "sexy baby vocal virus" speech patterns:

It's like a speech pattern that includes uptalking and fry, so it's this amalgamation of really unsavory sounds that many young women have adopted. It's a pandemic, in my opinion. I can't have people around me that speak that way, and mainly because I am a woman, and I grew up thinking a female voice and sound should sound sophisticated and sexy, a la Lauren Bacall or Anne Bancroft or Faye Dunaway, you know. Not a 12-year-old little girl that is submissive to the male species.

Bell is hardly the first to notice the way women change their voices, often subconsciously, to sound less threatening or domineering. "What is that voice?," wrote HuffPost blogger Kate Fridkis in October 2012. "I hear women do it on the street when they are talking to a man they want to quickly placate. I heard one of my college roommates use it every night on the phone with her boyfriend. Girls and women slip into it so naturally, and then out of again, on a daily basis."

In "In A World," Bell plays Carol, a woman who wants be the voice behind movie trailers. The only glitch? That voice is pretty much always male. "I was always interested in the idea that the omniscient voice was always considered male," Bell told NPR. "This sound that's telling you what to buy, what to think, how to feel about what bank to have, or what kind of car, or what movie to see -- so I thought it would be an interesting protagonist to have a female vocal coach who would sort of aspire to take on this world."

Maybe it's time to shatter that voice-over glass ceiling.

To listen to the full interview, click over to NPR.

[H/T NYMag]