Last week I found myself in the very strange position of apologizing to my agent and my editor for my face. You read that right. I apologized for my face.
I’d participated in a panel event that had been taped, and so I sent the video along to these two women, with whom I work and who are among my biggest supporters, when it was available. The video was … difficult to watch. I am, as it turns out, extraordinarily untelegenic. Despite that, I was truly pleased with my performance on the panel — and even though it’s uncomfortable for me to do so, I’ll tell you that I was happy with the fact that I was funny, I knew what I was talking about, I was grown-up and sensible, and I didn’t curse. I didn’t at all censor myself (hi, the words ‘semen stains’ were used) but I didn’t want to slip into swear words and I didn’t slip into swear words. (Choire Sicha told me early on when I was writing for The Awl that I was better when I didn’t swear. I’ve always kept that in mind, and it’s been advice that’s served me so well.)
Despite all of that, there I was a few days after the event APOLOGIZING FOR MY FACE. I acknowledged that part of not being telegenic is due to a weight problem that I’m working on, and will be fixed by the time the book is out. But that there’s no denying that even with the weight off, I will still not be camera-appropriate.
They, of course, said all the things women say in these situations, “You were great!” “You’re too hard on yourself!”, and in one respect I believe them but I also know the truth of the matter is that I just don’t have the looks that Brit Morin has, nor the looks of Jordan Reid, and that those two women are the company I often keep, comparison-wise.
It’s pretty crushing. I can lose weight, sure. But I can’t fix my face — or at least, I’m not going to. Later in life I might go in for some light lifting or injecting but not at this age. That’s preposterous to me.
And yet, my face is a thing that will quite literally limit my career, or at least this segment of my career. I will not be as successful as a woman who wants you to turn yoga mats into wine stoppers. Pardon: used yoga mats. Because she is pretty and I am not.
I’m getting ready to head back to the other type of work I did, the work that allowed me to write for free and get a book deal on the strength of that writing, and then take six months off from it while I wrote the book that was born of a hobby. Which is great, and I’m excited to get back to that career because it’s a good one, but also it’s a bitter pill to swallow in that it comes, in part, because I realize how limited I am in my prospects and that those limits aren’t because I’m not talented or smart or likable or relatable or hard-working enough. Those limits have just about everything to do with not being cute enough.
I mean but at least I don’t try to tell anyone to put a used yoga mat into their bottle of wine. Mercy no! RESPECT THE WINE.
This is such bullshit. Not because Jolie is wrong, but because she is tragically, realistically right. I would by far rather read her write about bleach than basically anything else online, and it is infuriating that that apparently matters less than telegenic-ness (which has hilariously little to do with actual attractiveness. I personally look like a million bucks in some photos and a potato in others.)
I watched the video in question, and she did come off as knowledgeable, intelligent, funny, and generally charming. I’m not questioning that this criticism is being leveled at smart, talented young women, but I’m angry that it’s the case. I don’t think it’s wrong to expect more of us as a society.
PS: Man, apparently John Hodgman can have a career that involves being on film and this lovely lady can’t? And you assholes say we don’t need feminism.