Tina Fey Keeping it Real

First, a Disclaimer: In good conscience, I don’t think I can use the term Shout Out. Let’s be honest, it isn’t the 90’s… and I know, I know. Keeping it Real is only marginally less dated – but it’s relevant to the cause, so I’m sticking with it.

Without further ado, our premiere Keeping it Real Honoree is none other than the champion of smart, real, funny women: Tina Fey. As one of the first female head writers on SNL, the creator of the all too relatable film Mean Girls, and one of the few Hollywood ladies to never succumb to the plastic-surgery-starvation-diets-bobble-head-physique so popular among her peers,* Tina Fey basically rules. She’s a Jane Austen for the 21st century, with her insightful social commentary lightly veiled by her sharp wit and mild self-deprecation.

I’ve read slights from naysayers who find her character Liz Lemon of 30 Rock to be offensive, because she’s a perennial geek and fashion disaster on the show. In reality, isn’t that how all of us feel at some point in our lives? It’s exhausting to try to live up to the flawless archetype of the Woman Who Has it All. Writing honestly and openly (and laugh out loud funny) about the absurdities of those expectations is a refreshing respite in a world of Paris Hiltons and Rosie Huntington-Whitleys.

Personally I think Tina Fey is gorgeous as well as brilliant and hilarious, and the world would be a better place if we had more women like her filling the media-waves with their charm and cleverness.


“But I think 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—Beyoncé 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. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California 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. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
Tina Fey, Bossypants




*Some of you may be thinking “She isn’t under as much pressure to be skinny and flawless. She’s a writer.” First, I must point out she is also an actress. Second, even if we set that aside, there is also an extremely odd amount of pressure for anyone in Hollywood – writers, directors, producers – especially anyone who is a woman, to maintain a certain look. A look that is marketable and fits in with the rest of Hollywood, a bizarroland of mythic proportions. I concede that this is my opinion based on my own observations when I was living in said bizarroland. Others may disagree, but I believe anyone who works in Hollywood will be assessed and scrutinized based on their appearance more than on their talent.

5 thoughts on “Tina Fey Keeping it Real

  1. Hear, hear, to the entire post! I love Tina Fey for being smart, beautiful, dorky, creative, successful, and, last but not least, because she rocks the glasses in full view of a national TV audience – and not just as the ‘Ugly’ Before in a transformation plot. I can’t imagine anyone being offended by Liz Lemon on 30 Rock unless one is afraid of their own internal nerd. I think that most of us can identify with Liz’s flaws and failings (even if ours aren’t as madcap as those necessary for a fast-moving TV comedy), and it’s comforting to see characters that show women getting it done and being themselves. Because, though Liz takes on occasional attempts to be someone other than herself, at the end of the day, she’s indispensable to TGS and she revels in her individual quirks as in a favorite hoodie on a rainy day, comfy and unembarrassed.

    As to your post-script, I hope that no one actually believes that. Of course there are varying degrees of pressure on women in different lines of work. But many studies (http://tinyurl.com/3bld5s6) have shown what many of us already know, that all of us are under pressure to be attractive and that how others – particularly men – perceive our looks can have wide-ranging implications for our lives.

    I’m going to have to read Bossypants over Christmas break. If I ever find myself as confident, hard-working, beautiful, and successful as Tina Fey, I will die a happy woman, considering myself to have lived up to my potential. I don’t expect to ever achieve the Tina Fey Standard, but I’m hoping to get to a place of contentment nevertheless.

  2. I super-duper love Tina Fey and think she’s crazy talented, insanely funny, and gorgeous to boot though. Still, she does play into all these beauty traps that mainstream culture feeds us. She had to go on Weight Watchers and lose 30lbs before she became an on-air presence on SNL. Now, I don’t know if that was of her own free will or if she was encouraged to do so, but the message is the same. We applaud Liz Lemon for being quirky, but we’re still supposed to be looking at her as this unfortunate nerd. Of course because it’s Hollywood, our lovable nerd is a size 2 or 0 and incredibly beautiful. Rachel Dratch, who is not typical Hollywood beautiful was the original choice to play the Jenna character on 30 Rock and was replaced by the much more standard gorgeous Jane Krakowski (I won’t even pretend I spelled that right). So while I applaud Tina and this post for focusing attention on a woman who is much much more than sex on a stick, it’s important to note that she’s still very much playing the game, playing into the standards of beauty in Hollywood and our Western society.
    Super cool blog, can’t wait to see more!

    1. Thanks for this point of view, Heather! I agree that one of the major challenges of being a woman in the media is the pressure of what people expect (or at times even require) of you in order to be successful, while still being true to your own ideals and standards. This is an incredible obstacle for countless women today, and a guaranteed struggle for any woman in the media. I’m getting ready to feature a documentary and social movement about this very issue. Check them out at http://www.missrepresentation.org
      Thanks for reading!

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