Over at Salon, Beth Mann wrote a piece that finally articulates what Tessa and I have been thinking since the 2nd season of “Glee” started: put simply, Lea Michele (who plays the lead girl Rachel) has lost a demoralizing amount of weight. Before, she was that lonely, oddly-cute girl in high school that grew on you over the years; now, she’s just another emaciated TV star.
After watching the “Rocky Horror”-themed show last night, I’m relatively sure that Jenna Ushkowitz (the Asian girl Tina) has also lost most of her figure, and in both cases, the physical change has come at the detriment of character. Last season, Rachel’s annoying careerism and deluded self-esteem came off as the endearing defense mechanism of a true loser barely able to get through high school alive; now she just seems like a total cooz. If indeed that’s how you spell it.
It doesn’t matter who tells women in this industry to lose weight – it could have been a manager, an agent, the show’s producers, or even the stars themselves – the point is that it keeps happening, and it’d be tragic if it weren’t so boring.
We’re trying to raise a little girl in the midst of all this, which is why we keep her TV consumption down to about two hours a week, and most of that is animated or made of green felt. But there’s only so long we can do that dance.
I shan’t bore you with a treatise on the toxic requirements we have for female beauty, or why we demand such anorexia in a culture that has become disgustingly obese, but it does raise an interesting issue.
All of us have “lifelong battles with x” to contend with – some archetypical struggles that define us until we (hopefully) wrestle them to the ground. And I don’t always mean alcohol, drug addiction or some medical condition; it can be more metaphysical, like “I won’t live forever” or “I have to admit I don’t believe in God” or “my mother isn’t who I thought she was”.
This may be presumptious, and I’d love to be wrong, but I think there’s another struggle to add to the list, a lifelong battle that is largely an invention of the last hundred years. Almost every woman in America is in some state of anguish, denial, compensation, or vague unhappiness until they wrestle the beauty dragon to the ground. Only then, can they look up, regard the mirror without care, and say, “at long last, I’m truly comfortable with the way I look.”