the sadder but wiser girl for me

10/27/10

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.

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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.”

0 thoughts on “the sadder but wiser girl for me

  1. Salem's Little Sister

    I completely agree with you and Tessa. I now find “Rachel” as annoying as the other characters do and I really liked her last season. I guess it was easier to stand behind her when singing was all she had and now she’s just some skinny minny with an incredible voice who is dating the quarter-back. She’s not so much a Gleek anymore as just a snot.

    Reply
  2. Kelly in NC

    I tried to post a comment with a link to that Marie Claire article, too, but it got held for review. Hmmm.
    Anyway, I agree with Ian that it’s hard to raise a little girl in this environment. I have an 8 year-old who already has made comments about not wanting to become fat. I’m really baffled as to what made her even start thinking about such a thing.

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  3. julie

    It’s not just girls. Last spring, at the tender age of 7, my son burst into tears saying he was fat. I was so shocked. He would not tell me where the idea even came from. I have always encouraged healthy eating and good choices. We keep sweets and desserts in the house and try to teach moderation is the key. But it is disheartening to hear an 8 year old say “I can’t eat too much of x,y, or z because it will make me fat.”

    Reply
  4. tregen

    Sorry to repeat the same things here over and over again but seriously, who the fuck cares how some two-bit actress on tv looks. It’s trash… what do you expect?
    Want to change the obsessions, compulsion and disgustingness in this country…. take a big step and repeat after me “I will call the cable company and turn off the TV cable tonight!”
    Now do it.

    Reply
  5. Neva

    Next hiatus she’ll come back with a nose job (although maybe not since it could affect her voice), otherwise I imagine she would’ve had it already.
    I know when folks my age in Chapel Hill are getting botox, LA must be a nightmare.

    Reply
  6. Anne

    Not just women, apparently.
    Look at “McGee” on NCIS. He used to be a tad plump, although I thought he looked adorable with the extra chin. Then he lost some weight last year, and he looked great.
    When this season’s new episodes began airing this fall, I was horrified to see he had lost more weight and looks emaciated. Like a stick figure. NOT ATTRACTIVE! You went too far, McGeek!
    Abby has been shrinking steadily, too, but still looks cute because she has a naturally rounded face.
    I love me some NCIS but not anorexic McGee, thank you.

    Reply
  7. Anne

    Julie: How heartbreaking! (continuing the subject of men and boys being overly concerned about weight) I remember my daughter in her ballet-practice tutu at age 5 or so looking around the big dance studio at all the other little girls and asking me, “Am I fat, Mommy?” She was TEENY-petite, yet somehow this subject had already come up. Sheesh.
    Our teenage son, now 18 and at college, developed his adult muscular body over the last year and began complaining to me that he was “fat.” WHERE? “My stomach.” Flat as a washboard, it was and is. What a world to grow up in.

    Reply

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