Monday, April 13, 2009

Ugly = ?

Last week, I had my first live television appearance. As I arrived at the studio, I was stripped down and doused in make-up and hairspray before I even had a chance to settle in.

In order to secure this spot, I had to send in a DVD of myself in a previous television interview. I hesitated to send in the clip I had because of how I appeared. The more media I do, and the more I learn about the industry, the more I understand how everything comes down to looks. Anyone who's interested in booking me for a television gig (or any gig, really) wants to see my picture. My initial reaction was anger--why do they need to see how I look? Why aren't my credentials enough? I've made a conscious decision not to include my picture on this site, nor on the one for my private practice. In my mind, it's not about how I look. . . though, sometimes, it is.

So, I send in this DVD, a news segment in which I did my own hair and make-up (lesson learned, more is better on camera). I emailed the two women who do my p.r. that, given the industry's focus on looks, I was concerned about submitting the segment because I thought I looked (gasp!) "ugly."

Now, here's the kicker: Both women, independently, after viewing the clip, responded to me, "No, you don't look fat." And so it goes. . .


April said...

Dude, you are so right on. It's why I quit doing CR media. They want an image, and I didn't give it to them. They totally wanted to portray CR people as anorexic and crazy -- I'm normal and healthy looking.

And it really sucks at 105 pounds to be told you don't look skinny enough. So I got off that merry go round! Very glad my real work has nothing to do with body image or weight... it's too nerve racking to deal with it.


azusmom said...

Having spent a long time in "the biz" I can completely sympathize! But it's worse, in this case, because you are an expert in body image issues, and they don't even see the irony!!!!
I can understand their wanting to see how you appear on camera in terms of questions they may have; are you coherent, do you answer questions concisely, etc. But they also want to make sure you look a certain way, and that really sucks!
The comments by your PR people kinda want to make me bang my head against my desk. Repeatedly.

Rachel said...

Interesting that these two women responded to your concerns that you looked "ugly" not with "you don't look ugly" but with "you don't look fat." Seriously, how can your PR people adequetely represent you and your professional goals when they've clearly bought into the same kinds of mentalities you're battling to eradicate?

Jennifer Brindley said...


littlem said...

What Rachel said.
Times, like, a kabillion.

If you even raised it with them, would it be worth it? Do you think they would get it?

Do you think the endless harangue(fat = ugly) is so built into our cultural fabric that they might not even realize what they said?

Lissy said...

were you on the today show with kathie lee gifford and hoda kotb? i came in toward the middle and wondered if that were you?

i got so involved with what i saw of the segment. a lot of thoughts were going thru my mind.

i tried very hard not to notice the weight of the speakers -- but i failed. (here's where i want to tell you you looked good and thin. what a knee-jerk reaction!)

one of the most interesting parts of the segment was when you were all talking about how mothers influence their daughters when they look in the mirror and comment negatively on their own appearances. kathie lee groaned, "i do that".

anyway, if that wasn't the segment, sorry that i rambled on. the one i saw was very informative and very important!

drstaceyny said...

A--sounds like you made the right decision!

am--I know. . . .

Rachel--good question. I did point out their assumptions to them.

JB--wow is right!

lm--hi!!! I'll raise it until I'm blue in the face. I think my message was clear when I said, "Do you really think I would commment on my weight?" I think they realized the irony. Now, when I went up to Jess Weiner (my co-panelist--see my sidebar for info on her book) and asked, just before we went on stage, "Do I look fat in this?" that, that was supposed to be funny.

I think you're right--they probably didn't realize what they said--if they did, then Rachel's point stands true--how can they represent me?

lissy--right segment. That's funny that you caught it. I think it's hard not to notice ppl's weight, so I wouldn't kick yourself for that one. Interesting you mention Kathie Lee b/c a friend of mine predicted, "She going to say something that makes you laugh at some point during the segment" or something like that. So, that was it. . . .

Lissy said...

i was moved by kathie lee's admission. i'm rather fascinated by her for some reason. she strikes as a woman who is very comfortable worrying about how she looks. she firmly (no botox jokes, please) believes that being thin and also beautiful are very, very important. i don't believe she's ever thought otherwise.

i thought maybe SHE learned something during that segment. maybe what was said struck home. i'm not sure.

Linda said...

LOL I love the last line and your title didn't make sense until then. I have to tell you, though, my husband and I are in the food industry. Neither one of us are thin, or particularly glamorous. A friend of ours in CA recommended us for a film that was being produced. We had to send them a video clip of ourselves. Then, they wanted a video conference with us to see how we would interact. Mind you, I weighed about 250 pounds at the time and was thinking, "There is no way this is going to happen because Hollywood wants glam." Well, they wanted us. They flew us to Cali with limos and all. The makeup sessions were excruciating because I hate wearing that much makeup and it was summer in the Valley. But, we were treated very well, given a lot of attention despite our rotund bodies. The catered food was healthy and delicious and overall it was an incredible experience. When you face that in the beginning, though, you expect people to respond like most people in society...fat=invisible.

BTW - I'm a counseling graduate student and happened upon your site doing research on dieting, particularly MediFast (which I personally believe is hugely destructive on many levels). I'm hooked on you now. Great work!

drstaceyny said...

Lissy--I actually don't know much abt her. Maybe she did learn something--when I commented abt mothers' looking at their bodies in disgust (and how this affects their daughters), she said (joked?) abt, "What if you look and you like what you see?" (or something like that).

Linda--thanks! And so great to hear your story. Let us know if the film becomes available for purchase or on-line.

Chitter Chatter said...


I suffer from Bulimia, i'm dying to get help as it controls my life. If I can be of any help - anf maybe help myself in the process that would be great.x