You might have noticed that lately, magazines and TV are being applauded for finally displaying “average” looking women. From America Ferrara starring on Ugly Betty, to Tina Fey on 30 Rock, to Glamour giving Crystal Renn her own spread, it seems like the media industry was actually making some headway in this department!
But here’s the thing- Crystal Renn is actually smaller than the average lady (and I’m willing to bet she’s not overweight by medical standards), America Ferrara is stunning, and as for Liz Lemon? She’s hot! I mean, you can’t slap glasses and a sense of humor on a gal and turn her ugly!
A recent post by Feministing examines my point in more detail. Author Chloe poses the question, “if Tina Fey, Lea Michele and America Ferrera are ugly, what hope is there for the rest of us?” Amen, sister Chloe! I’ve always been frustrated with the jokes about Michele being ugly (would anyone else give their right arm to look like her!?), and the Liz Lemon-bashing has never resonated with me either. Yeah, these characters might have some unfortunate wardrobe choices, but let’s face it – they’re (WAY) better lookin’ then the average chick.
Even the Washington Post agrees. Ezra Klein writes, 30 Rock “didn’t have the nerve to cast an actually frumpy actress in Liz Lemon’s role. About half the jokes focus on Lemon’s looks, and they’re all undercut when the camera focuses on the slim, beautiful Tina Fey.” In other words, not only does it not make sense to poke fun at these women for the way they look, but if these actresses are cast as the unattractive characters, what does that mean about the rest of us? Much like those super skinny models walking down the runways at Fashion Week, calling Liz Lemon ugly is setting the standard of beauty higher and higher, where perfection by modern standards is basically unattainable.
This article really makes me think. Is this movement towards average-looking characters actually a step backwards? I mean, what kind of message is the media sending us when Ugly Betty isn’t even ugly!?
What do you guys think?