Four decades of feminism later I am reading the comedian Angela Barnes’ blog. “I am ugly, and I am proud,” she writes. She goes on to say: “The fact is I don’t see people in magazines who look like me. I don’t see people like me playing the romantic lead or having a romantic life.”
At the top of the blog is a picture of Barnes. And the thing is, she isn’t ugly. Neither is she beautiful. She’s normal looking. She’s somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, just like lots of women you see every day in real life.
It made me think of this year’s Wimbledon ladies’ final between Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli. When Bartoli won, the BBC commentator John Inverdale infamously said, “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker, you’re never going to be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?”
The first thing I thought was: this woman has just won a tennis tournament! And she’s being judged on her looks! And then I thought: but Bartoli is attractive. Sure, she’s not at the very highest point on the scale – she doesn’t look like a top model. But she’s pretty. And, in any case, why should it matter? She’s a top athlete. Surely that’s what counts.
A sports commentator refers to a pretty woman as “not a looker”. A normal-looking woman thinks she’s ugly. Why?
Because, even though the world is full of normal and pretty women, the world we see – the world of television, films, magazines and websites – is full of women who are top-of-the-scale beauties.
And right now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the situation is more extreme than ever. If you’re a woman, a huge proportion of your role models are beautiful. So if you’re normal looking, you feel ugly. And if you’re merely pretty, men feel free to comment on how un-beautiful you are.
As a normal-looking man, I find myself in a completely different position. Being normal makes me feel, well, normal. Absolutely fine. As if the way I look is not an issue. That’s because it’s not an issue.
As a normal-looking man, I’m in good company. Sure, some male actors and celebrities are very good looking. Brad Pitt. George Clooney. Russell Brand.
But many of Hollywood’s leading men, like me, look like the sort of blokes you see every day, in real life. Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Bruce Willis, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Martin Freeman, Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Brendan Fraser… In fact, you might almost say that most leading men are normal-looking blokes.
It’s true of television, too. Bryan Cranston, who plays the lead in Breaking Bad – he’s a normal. James Gandolfini – he was a normal. And chubby too. Kevin Whately – normal. Ben Miller – normal. TV cops all look normal. Ray Winstone looks normal. Tim Roth looks normal. They portray people who are interesting for what they do, not what they look like.
Oh, and think of sitcoms. The Big Bang Theory features four normal-looking blokes and a stunningly beautiful woman. New Girl is about two normal blokes, a guy who’s quite good looking, and two women who are… yes, strikingly beautiful.
When I watch the news, on whatever channel, it’s presented by the classic partnership of an ordinary-looking guy and a gorgeous woman. After the news, I watch the weather. Male weather presenters look like standard males. Female weather presenters look like models.
Footballers look normal. Footballers’ wives and girlfriends look stunning. Daytime television presenters: men look like Phillip Schofield; women look like Holly Willoughby.
A typical Saturday-night judges’ panel consists of two types of people – middle-aged blokes and young, stunning women. Sometimes a normal-looking or ageing woman slips through the net – but then, like Arlene Phillips, her days are soon numbered.
Countdown had an attractive woman and an ageing bloke; when the attractive woman began to show signs of ageing, she was axed – replaced by a woman who was, of course, strikingly beautiful.
Who presents historical documentaries? Guys like David Starkey. Normals. And what happened when a normal-looking woman, Mary Beard, presented a series about the ancient world? She was mocked for not being attractive enough.
In a recent interview Dustin Hoffman, another normal, made a revealing comment. Remember when he dressed up as a woman in Tootsie? “I went home and started crying,” he said. Why?
“Because I think I am an interesting woman when I look at myself on screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party, I would never talk to that character. Because she doesn’t fulfil physically the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order to ask them out… I have been brainwashed.”
I would not say no to something action-y. I’ve always dreamed of doing stuff like this. I can remember wanting to be a cop on TV as a kid, not a real cop, a cop on TV. I’m in the middle of my dreams coming true. You could throw anything at me — “Do you wanna play this?” I’d be like, “Sure.” I love everything right now. It’s an amazing world.
Cheers to Supergirl for serving up heroines without capes. Whether it’s DEO agent Alex (Chyler Leigh) fighting crime with ladylove cop Maggie (Floriana Lima, right, with Leigh) or badass mogul Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) battling her own evil bloodline, Melissa Benoist’s Kara sure has found herself a super-impressive sisterhood in season 2.
Dean may have missed out on the fight, but he still feels like drinking when he finally gets back home. Ketch’s expensive bottle of bribery is still sitting on the war room table and his glass is still in his favorite spot, right where he left it.
“Oh, hello, sweetness. Daddy’s here,” Dean coos at it. He hums as he picks up the bottle - still heavy even after a couple of drinks. “Shhh. It’s just you and me now.”
Sam scoffs. “Really, Dean? You’re that easy?”
Dean rolls his eyes over his shoulder. “So?”
Sam doesn’t really want to start anything, he’s feeling too good. He lets Dean smuggle his booze away to his room like always and revels in the still-fresh feeling of adrenaline-fueled ass-kicking. Changing the world. Power in the palms of his hands. He’ll try not to let it go to his head, but he deserves to celebrate the win at least.
Dean, meanwhile, falls like a heavy weight against the back of his bedroom door.
I love being a part of Overwatch, but there are a few things I miss. Silence, the absence of noise, one single moment undisturbed by the sounds of a television program called Dog Cops. There is no quiet anymore; there is only Dog Cops.
While Brooklyn Nine-Ninesurprised many Golden Globes viewers when it took home two trophies at this year’s ceremony, its freshman season has been churning out one solid episode after another. And not only is the show hysterical, but it may be the most progressive show on TV. The cop comedy is on-point when it comes to portraying women, gay characters and people of color. Other shows should take notes when attempting to deliver a similarly progressive message to a millennial audience.
Survivor - Season 34, Game Changers The Second Boot: Tony Vlachos
:’( but also because it was at the hands of Queen Sandra Diaz-Twine? :) I love Tony. I’ve been doing a rewatch of Cagayan (when it was airing, I only focused on Spencer, hated Kass, and didn’t actually appreciate the magic of one Tony Vlachos) and it’s been fantastic. Tony is a beautiful Survivor unicorn who is an absolutely insane player who also at the same time can make fantastic television. The man is crazy. I was worried about him going into the season, but I am honestly just impressed that he managed to survive the first vote. Plus, going out at the hands of Sandra really isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of the game and he’s been an amazing sport about the whole thing, too.
I love being a part of EXO, but there are a few things I miss. Silence, the absence of noise, one single moment undisturbed by the sounds of a television program called “Dog Cops.” There is no quiet anymore; there is only Dog Cops.
Everybody, just STOP. Stop whatever you are doing and IMAGINE:
Alicia Zimmermann as the retired hockey legend married to Bob Zimmermann semi-famous actor/model.
First, Jack wouldn’t feel as overshadowed. Instead of being compared to his dad, a lot of the guys in the locker would have made fun of him or said crude things about his mom. Jack gets into a lot more fights in this universe, but he is just as talented.
Alicia knows how to nurture that without making him feel that’s the only thing he’s good for.
Alicia and Jack make fun of Bob’s terrible movies. He played a rookie in an 80’s classic cop TV show, and the two of them know the lines by heart. They spend holidays reenacting the worst scenes, and there’s a game where one of them yells strike a pose and do one of his ad campaigns. Alicia wins every time (she takes this very seriously and that’s how she got banned from two different supermarkets).