A few weeks ago I posted a quote from Tina Fey’s Bossypants that I read in a magazine. But now that my sister’s fiance was kind enough to get my the actual book for Christmas, I am currently working my way through the hilarity. I just came to the point where that quote is actually mentioned and feel the need to repost it in its entirety as it is so true.
Today, girls are expected to have:
“- Caucasian blue eyes
- Full Spanish lips
- a classic button nose
- hairless Asian skin with a Californian tan
- a Jamaican dance hall ass
- long Swedish legs
- small Japanese feet
- the abs of a lesbian gym owner
- the hips of a nine-year-old-boy
- the arms of Michelle Obama
- and doll tits”
Well said Ms. Fey, well said! But she also has another quote in this section that I would like to share. After discussing the popularity of thin blondes that has dominated the majority of decades past, Fey writes the following paragraph:
“The first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom – Beyonce brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful.”
I found this paragraph particularly insightful – and not something that is often said. I have many friends who look at Sophia Vergara or Christina Hendricks with idolizing eyes as they are some of the curvier ladies on screen these days. My friends say “I’m so glad she has a real body” or “Congrats to that show for putting a woman with hips on TV”. And though I think kids should have lots of divers role models to look up to – I don’t like the fact that the quality of a role model is determined by the size of her hips or the grade of her cup size. Sophia Vergara is a good role model because she’s spunky and tough – not because she has an hourglass figure.
The fact is that these women’s shapes may be unique television, but it is still the shapes that people are focused on. Melissa McArthy isn’t a good or bad role model because of her size – she’s a great role model because she is a deeply funny and talented actress. A person’s size or shape has little to nothing to do with their health and general well being. A person can have a great smile but secretly drown puppies in his/her backyard, just as a person can have a 22 inch waist but die of a heart attack at 50 from eating McDonalds every single day.
Tina Fey is the first person to vocalize what I did not understand how to say for myself – that focusing on the physical attributes of a person in ANY way is not a step forward. It is by accepting your body as just that – a body – that progress can happen. People are beautiful because they help others, because they provide for their families, because they seek to improve their spirits and the spirits of those around them each and every day. We should be celebrating what people can do – not what they look like.
Why should I spend my days on this earth trying to get myself that hairless California tanned skin when I can spend it sewing a dress for my niece? Why should I spend hours trying to get Michelle Obama’s arms when I can wander around a museum with my friends? Life is to short to spend it trying to mold one’s body into some unrealistic box. So lets just live and let live – and love other for who they truly are!