Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon—from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.
This is one of those books I've had the best intentions, for no small amount of time, to read. I love Tina Fey, this was guaranteed to be funny. Turns out I am never going to be as crazy productive as she is (seriously, after reading this book I am greatly confused by not only how she hasn't died from sleep deprivation, but also how her marriage has survived), and I must admit the sheer volume of books I intend to read is outrageously ridiculous, especially at my current reading speed. Anyhoots, I've read it!! And it only took 4 years to get too.
I was right, it was funny, thoroughly enjoyable, and surprisingly down to earth considering her wonderful lifetime of excellent timing, good luck and obvious talent. It took me till almost the halfway point in the book to find myself laughing out loud and trying to hold myself back from reading every second paragraph out loud, presumably because the start of the book is about her earlier days and thus somewhat less crazy, but also because the front end of the book has a bit more story and a tiny bit less antidote. Either way, by the time I hit the chapter "Amazing, Gorgeous, Not Like That." I was having trouble reading through the tears of mirth. I'd like that chapter to follow me around and give me a little joy burst on grouchy days, honest to god, can someone make that happen?
Mixed in with stories of SNL, 30 Rock and photo shoots are Fey's thoughts on Feminism, politics, beauty and other difficult topics. Her take on many of these things was surprisingly fresh, and always down to earth in an unexpected way:
My daughter has a reversible doll: Sleeping Beauty on one side and Snow White on the other. I would always set it on her bed with the Snow White side out and she would toddle up to it and flip the skirt over to Sleeping Beauty. I would flip it back and say "Snow White is so pretty." She would yell, "No!" and flip it back. I did this experiment so frequently and consistently that I should have applied for government funding. The result was always the same. When I asked her why she didn't like Snow White, she told me, "I don't like her hair." Not even three years old, she knew that yellow hair is king. And, let's admit it, yellow hair does have magic powers. You could put a blond wig on a hot-water heater and some dude would try to fuck it. Snow White is better looking. I hate to stir up trouble among princesses, but take away the hair and Sleeping Beauty is actually a little beat...This felt a little what I imagine being friends with Fey would be like. Silly stories over drinks, complaining about horrors of aging, while out for coffee and over the top gourmet donuts. And on that note, I'm going to go re-read "Amazing, Gorgeous, Not Like That" while eating chocolate mini-eggs, ignoring my rounded belly that is pushed out by my rounded posture no mater how many sit-ups I do (which is totally none), and pretending Tina Fey and I are meeting for coffee later this afternoon to debate the merits of having a second child, because, I hear you Tina. I will yell my advice to you through a bathroom stall door anytime.
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- Beyonce 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
The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes. Everyone else is struggling.
- and doll tits
Even the Yellowhairs who were once on top can now be found squatting to a Rihanna song in a class called Gary's Glutes Camp in an attempt to revers-engineer a butt. These are dark times. Back in my Wildwood days with Janet, you were either blessed with a beautiful body or not. And if you were not, you could just chill out and learn a trade. Now if you're not "hot," you are expected to work on it until you are. It's like when you renovate a house and you're legally required to leave just one of the original walls standing. If you don't have a good body, you'd better starve the body you have down to a neutral shape, then bolt on some breast implants, replace your teeth, dye your skin orange, inject your lips, sew on some hair , and call yourself the Playmate of the Year.
How do we survive this? How do we teach our daughters and our gay sons that they are good enough the way they are? We have to lead by example. Instead of try to fit an impossible ideal, I took a personal inventory of all my healthy body parts for which I am grateful:
- Straight Greek eyebrows. They start at the hairline at my temple and, left unchecked, will grow straight across my face and onto yours.
- A heart-shaped ass. Unfortunately, it's a right-side-up heart; the point is at the bottom.
- Droopy brown eyes designed to confuse predators into thinking I'm just on the verge of sleep and they should come back tomorrow to eat me.
- Permanently rounded shoulders from years of working at a computer
- A rounded belly that is pushed out by my rounded posture no matter how many sit-ups I do. Which is mostly none.
- A small high waist.
- A wad of lower-back fat that never went away after I lost my "baby weight." One day in the next ten years, this back roll will meet up with my front pouch, forever obscuring my small high waist, and I will officially be my mother.
- Wed-set knockers that aren't so big but can be hoisted up once or twice a year for parades.Good strong legs with big gym teacher calves that I got from walking pigeon -toed my whole life.
- Wide German hips that look like somebody wrapped Pillsbury dough around a case of soda.
At the end of the day, I'm happy to have my father's feet and my mother's eyes with me at all times. If I ever go back to that beach in Wildwood, I want my daughter to be able to find me in the crowd by spotting my soda-case hips. I want her to be able to pick me out of a sea of highlighted blond women with fake tans because I'm the one with the thick ponytail ad the greenish undertones in my skin....Also, full disclosure, I would trade my feet for almost any other set of feet out there.
- My father's feet. Flat. Bony. Pale. I don't know how he even gets around, because his feet are in my shoes....
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, January 1st, 2011