I’ve already answered the “Tina Fey IS TOO average-looking, by Hollywood standards!” argument in comments on my original post, but here, have some magazine covers.
Granted, in two of those, there’s some irony going on, and in the only one where there’s not, they’ve made her look oddly matronly. Nevertheless, Fey cleans up pretty fucking good. And arguing about precisely how pretty she is is beside the point, which is that when you’ve been on a bunch of magazine covers and People’s 50 Most Beautiful People list, you’ve crossed a line into Not So Much Like the Rest of Us Territory. (I can already hear the arguments. Bust doesn’t count! Marie Claire isn’t as shallow as Cosmo or Glamor! EW only put her on there — in a red cocktail dress — because of her career! People always includes a few outliers on the list! So let me stipulate that Tina Fey has only just crossed that line, while the likes of Heidi Klum are miles past it. Still doesn’t change what I’m saying.)
Beyond that, I agree with a lot of what Jessica says, including that on 30 Rock, the jokes at Fey’s expense most often rely on Jack Donaghy being a ridiculous blowhard or Fey parodying the usual portrayal of single womanhood. Turns out I was aware that 30 Rock is a comedy, and I happen to fucking love it. But it’s not the only thing Fey’s ever done, and I was talking about a (relatively subtle, and only quibbleworthy, not damning) pattern I’ve noticed throughout her career. It just grates more now that she’s a bona fide leading lady who appears in public cleaned up good a whole lot more than she used to.
As for “missing the point entirely,” which Jessica accuses me of, well, she missed that I totally didn’t call Tina Fey “self-loathing” — and in fact, my “no one likes a self-loathing person” comment was made by way of agreeing with Fey’s joke (funny because it’s true) about the power of having confidence that’s disproportionate to your looks and abilities. Again, I completely agree with Jessica that “Fey’s self-deprecation… is precisely what makes her relatable.” I mean, self-deprecation is the fucking linchpin of her insanely successful career; if she’d never made a joke at her own expense, we never would have heard of her, and the world would be poorer for it. But there are a whole lot of different shades of self-deprecation, and I’m just fucking sick of seeing women trash their own bodies as a means of appearing down-to-earth and relatable. Sweet Machine really nailed down the nature of my quibble with Fey with this:
Fey’s joking about her looks violates the “It’s not all about you” spirit. I’m sure she draws on her own experience of insecurity with the beauty ideal, and it would be very interesting to hear her talk about that directly. But by continuing to make herself the butt of “not pretty” jokes, even if she’s been treated that way, she’s indirectly insulting a lot of other women.
Finally, “extreme P.C. body image standards” are this blog’s fucking raison d’etre, so you know, nitpicking happens. It doesn’t mean I don’t think Tina Fey’s a billion kinds of awesome, or that she hasn’t eaten a billion kinds of shit throughout her career on accounta not looking like Heidi Klum. It just means I think the subtle stuff matters. It’s not only big, obvious bullshit that reinforces the message that 99.9% of women aren’t good enough — it’s also a critical mass of tiny little things, which include beautiful women talking about how not beautiful they are. And if we didn’t talk about those tiny little things here, we’d have a lot less blog material.