It’s What’s Inside That Counts, Unless You’re Really Pretty

Sometimes I think the Universe goes out of it’s way to push me up on my soapbox. Like when I’m at CVS and I see this.

“It’s cool,” I try to tell myself. “I’m sure Melissa McCarthy wanted to hold a giant box in front of her at just the right angle so 40% of her body is covered. Good Housekeeping isn’t Maxim, after all: it’s only appropriate that her chest be completely covered and de-sexualized. And I’m sure that Jennifer Lawrence requested ELLE make her look as little like herself as possible. Anyway, it’s the holidays and complaining about stuff like this is at least 40% of why people don’t like me, so I’m going to just let it go.”

And so, with those understandings, I earnestly tried to move on towards the cashier…after obsessively comparing both covers’ headlines:

I’m so sorry, 60% percent of me, but the Universe is calling. Where’s my soapbox? It calls to me.

First off – and I might as well start with the bar set annoyingly high – why is Melissa McCarthy constantly being described as a “girl”, “gal” or “wheelbarrow”? Yes, de-sexualization is common across the board for funny folk, but there’s a certain type of status that comes with being called a “woman” that she keeps being denied. Melissa McCarthy is a married mother of two in her 40s. The woman has daughters that are “girls”; how in the world has she not earned a “lady” here and there?

While we’re on the subject of earning things, I must note that Melissa McCarthy has worked long and hard to get where she is, so how about we stop calling her “new”,  as if she’s JUST hit the Hollywood scene? Did America collectively forget about Gilmore Girls? I didn’t even watch Gilmore Girls and I know that Melissa McCarthy was on all seven seasons of it.

But enough about word choice – though that should have been picky enough to sift out the usual eye rollers. Let’s talk about the whole statement. I mean, I get it: “It’s What’s Inside That Counts” is meant to be empowering, but I’m fairly certain that anyone old enough to watch Mike & Molly sees the implied remainder of the sentiment as “Because You Have A Great Personality Despite Being Exterior-ly Repulsive”. What it’s meant to be a lead-in for is great: McCarthy talks about raising strong daughters. So if that’s the point, could they really have not reached it sans a ceremonial fat girl line? Or do we need that to explain why we’re supposed to be SHOCKED that she has confidence? The headline could have just as easily read: “Christmas With McCarthy! How America’s Favorite Funnywoman Plans to Raise Strong Daughters.” If you’re so set on using “It’s What’s Inside That Counts!”, just go all the way and print: “Fatty Fatty Two by Four, Can’t Fit Through The Kitchen Door! Strong Daughters!”

Speaking of strong daughters: Jennifer Lawrence can do a bit more than look like she’s about to lip sync for her life on the cover of ELLE. She spent months training for The Hunger Games, getting into peak physical condition to run/jump/climb/not piss off millions of obsessed fans on the silver screen. Khatuna Lorig, Olympic Archer, had to freakin’ train J-Law in archery. I’d more easily compare her to C-4 than to a Bombshell.

You know who I envied most while watching The Hunger Games? Elizabeth Banks. Because she got to be hilarious and wear pretty dresses and NOT crawl through the mud for weeks at a time while pretending to get stung by CGI bees. While this franchise has earned and will earn Jennifer Lawrence a substantial career, the filming process probably sucked/sucks/will increasingly suck beyond belief, and for that reason I feel like calling her a “bombshell” is a bit of a cop-out.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with “bombshell”. I’m sure J-Law loved being called one. The word is easily associated with Marilyn Monroe, so that’s a supposed to be a huge compliment in itself, but considering that Marilyn Monroe’s greatest feats of on-set physical endurance involved remembering handfuls of lines at the time while remaining incomprehensibly intoxicated, couldn’t Jennifer Lawrence be referred to as more than a sexy baby pretty package? How about “Tough Motherf***er”? How about “Bad-Ass Chick Who Probably Has More Upper Body Strength Than You”? Or how about “Sure She Looks Pretty, But Let’s Really Look At How Accomplished She Is. Wow, I Guess IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS.”

But then again, that headline would never work. Everyone would think ELLE was calling her fat. So… Happy Holidays!

From My Soapbox to Yours,
Misha D Fisher

“Barbie Anatomical Model” by Jason Freeny; Image via