I am a huge fan of SNL. I am particularly enamored with the women who have vaulted from the show in the last decade or so: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Kristen Wiig (who basically carries the show now), and Rachel Dratch. I recently read Dratch’s memoir, Girl Walks Into A Bar and found it delightful. In print she sparkles with the same sweet energy and hapless self-deprecating humor that made her such a joy to watch on SNL. Today I googled to find out if she’d married the father of her baby (nope) and found this article, Is Rachel Dratch Too Ugly For Hollywood? in Slate Magazine. Despite the provocative title, it actually doesn’t explore Dratch’s looks in much depth; the author of the piece admits she doesn’t like Rachel’s acting and complains that despite Rachel’s high energy, she doesn’t have the chops to make the writer crack a smile. Fair enough. So let me talk about Rachel Dratch’s looks.
Rachel Dratch looks like every other woman on the street — like someone who could be my best friend. She is not conventionally beautiful, but who among us can claim we are? She’s average. Just like me, and probably like you. And, like you, she has some features that are knockouts. Gorgeous huge blue eyes and lovely bone structure will keep her looking young for many years. However, her lips are unfashionably thin (thanks to Angelina Jolie for setting the standard of big fat lips large enough to be used as flotation devices and causing duckface among the overzealous users of filler). If Dratch had her lips fattened, she might inch into the “pretty zone” and thus, everyone would fucking relax about Rachel Dratch’s looks because she would look just like every other slightly above-average pretty woman in New York. She would mix in a bland and boring and dull way. It is her whacked out smile that gives her character and so I am glad she hasn’t succumbed to plastic surgery and doesn’t seem likely to in the future.
I guess I am a minority but I think Rachel Dratch is pretty, unconventional, and a laugh riot. I also think the assholes who write about her as if she’s a troll (a term she’s used herself) should post full-length unshopped images of themselves online so everyone can express an opinion on their looks.
Our culture’s obsession with beauty is becoming a sickness. The definition of beauty has become so narrow that only a very few people fit into it. You have to be under twenty-five, with long lustrous hair (so if you have an illness that causes your hair to thin, too bad. No man will want you now!) You must conform to the kittenish dimensions created by large, wide-spaced eyes, jutting cheekbones, and full lips. It also helps if you have long lashes, no facial hair at all except your eyebrows, and your complexion should be flawless – and yes, preferably white. If you’re Black, please do see what you can do about that (i.e., Beyonce, who always appears in ads lighter than she actually is. Seriously? Beyonce isn’t even pretty enough?!) One should also see to it that one’s teeth are flawlessly white, perfectly straight, as featureless as porcelain. And the body? It must be a size 2 with long, slender, willowy limbs. Your belly must be flat so if you’ve ever had a baby, you really should not look like you have. Your hips can swell out a little bit but not much. Your pippa middleton should be perky, high, taut and well rounded – but not actually round – from hours of pilates and yoga.
If you fail to conform to this exacting standard, it is not only a signal of your own failure, it is a personal affront to everyone else. How dare you force me to look at your crooked teeth! Oh your eyebrows are natural? Call the girl police!
There is something horrendous and bullying about these expectations – and you will notice they don’t apply to men. Nobody is writing articles about what a troll Danny Devito is or how Gene Hackman has a gut. Even in the under-forty crowd, unconventional men are given all respect due a Serious Actor, no matter the unfortunate physical flaws he displays or – worse – what a jackass he is. But there is a free-for-all on commentary about women’s looks even when the women are perfectly ordinary. Being beautiful opens you to the opinions. Being ugly does too. And, yes, being average does too. By discussing these things as if they impact us in any way we’ve become common.
Rachel Dratch is not ugly by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that she is being criticized and discussed like a dog at Westminster inspires disappointment; it certainly doesn’t illuminate anything. Does it teach us anything about our culture or celebrity or Rachel herself? Is it amusing? No and no. It is just used as fodder to fill up screen inches.
I hope Rachel Dratch’s book is a wild success. She deserves happiness and a beautiful future.