Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I still love you, Sarah Silverman, by Mayim Bialik, PhD

Ladies and gentleman, I am privileged to once again have Mayim Bialik writing for Fallen Princess. Today the Big Bang Theory star and funny writer for such excellent blogs as Kveller comments on Sarah Silverman's sexy new look. P.S. Here is a picture of me with Mayim after we ate dinner with her parents at Spago in the early 90s. Look how young we are. I wanted the picture at the end but I can't figure out how to place pictures where I want them on this thingy. I'll shut up and let Mayim talk now.

In case you don’t know who she is, Sarah Silverman is a bold and fairly outrageous comedienne who is probably known equally for one of three things: her Comedy Central show (“The Sarah Silverman Show”), her recent NY Times bestseller, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, and “The Great Schlep,” her hysterical successful attempt to get Barack Obama elected in Florida through encouraging all of the Jewish grandparents there to vote for him.

Although her brashness is not always my cup of tea, the reason I have always loved Sarah is for her signature style. She is attractive by general standards of our culture: raven black long hair, pale smooth skin, proportional features, and a curvy but thin body. But she became famous wearing baggy boyish jeans, ¾ sleeve baseball tees, a ponytail, and no visible make-up. And I’m not talking about skin-tight sexy jeans, curve-hugging tees, and a cutesy little-girl ponytail. We’re talking effortless confident female; not “trying to look unattractive,” not “dikey” (I know you were thinking it!), not self-conscious, and not “hiding her body.” Just simple. That’s her look and I love it.

So imagine my shock and awe (forgive me) when a few months ago, I chanced to see her on some late-night talk show and she was – hang on to your seats—in a short mini-dress; layered hair grazing the top of her slender shoulders; in high spike heels; with glossy lips and blush. She looked great, don’t get me wrong; but something inside of me shrunk a little bit and I gasped outwardly. Where was my sporty Sarah? Where was the brave no-nonsense comedienne who held her own among males in her industry without “having to” display herself as a sexy woman? My husband told me to pipe down; he was trying to hear sexy Sarah being totally crude and over-the-top vulgar in her new get-up!

I instantly felt bad for doubting her simply because she was doing what almost every other female in show business has to do (myself included, to the best of my ability…). How many actresses and even respected writers like Tina Fey are only truly considered competitive in this industry when they shed those ‘extra’ 20 lbs and squeeze into a size 2? Most.

Sarah Silverman’s s talent is not in any way decreased by her showing her legs or letting her hair down, as it were, but still! I can’t help but wondering if some stylist got a hold of her and told her if she wants to compete, she’s gotta drop the boyish boxy look. Or perhaps she got tired of her signature look and wanted to start dressing up. But maybe she felt she “had to” do this to get “real” parts? (She is apparently appearing nude in her upcoming film but has said a lot of funny self-deprecating things about the nudity…)

I hope the old Sarah comes back soon in some permutation. I want her to have all the success in the world, but I also want her to know that she is someone I have looked up to because she hasn’t typically tried to fit the mold of what women in this industry are “supposed to” look like. She has her own style, and I love it. I think she is someone I would want to hang out with, if I were allowed by my stylist to even wear baggy boy jeans with ¾ sleeve baseball tees.

Oh, feminism. We’ve come so far but it sometimes seems we have such a long long way to go.

Friday, February 11, 2011


In today's mail, I received a personal invitation to join AARP. I find myself inexplicably tickled pink. For you young readers, AARP is the American Association of Retired People, or some such thing; interestingly, the full name is not spelled out on the literature.

(The massive clicking you hear right now? That's the sound of Fallen Princess being un-followed by every subscriber who found me through Style Rookie.)

My first reaction to the mailing was, "Sweet, I can now get the hefty AARP discount." For a mere $16 per year! I immediately called my husband at work to tell him the excellent news. He was silent for a beat. Confused about what was expected of him, no doubt. Sucks to be him.

The thing is, I am not 50 yet! I won't even be 49 1/2 until March 15. My main concern here: can I still have the discount? (The letter says it's for all people over 50, whether retired or not.) I am also wondering about the AARP status of people just a few years older than me. Do the members of Sonic Youth, for example, have AARP memberships? What about, like, Debbie Harry? Iggy Pop?

"I remember when I got my first AARP card in the mail," said my friend Mike Flaherty, age 50, when I emailed him the news. "That was a pretty momentous day...almost as depressing as when I found myself in Duane Reade buying Gold Bond Foot Cream." I can always count on Mike to make a funny.

About 10 years ago, I saw my mother cry after she was able to get a senior discount for a parking permit. I was completely shocked. My mother does not cry easily, and furthermore, as I hadn't even turned 40 yet, I was insensitive about the trauma of finding oneself a senior. My feeling was, she is that age, so what is the problem?

A few years after that, my mom and aunts were lamenting their wrinkles. I was scoffing because they have so few wrinkles between the three of them that it is actually unfair to other septuagenarians. "No one wants to look old on the outside, when you feel just the same inside as you always did," said my aunt. This is true."You know the only alternative to getting older," my dad used to say. "Dying." He died at 58, never to collect a senior discount.

I have gotten increasingly aggressive about telling people my age before they even ask. I keep my birth year on my Facebook page, though no one over 30 seems to. Taking it off won't make you any younger, people! This is not to say that I am happy about getting older.

Last night, at poker, two of the other ladies were almost exactly my age. One said, "50 is the new 30." I don't really agree, but whatever gets you through, I guess.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Incivility Sucks

I agree with Obama. Our society has become too damn incivil. Today's opinion might seem a tad inconsistent, following my last post, an apologia for profanity. As well as a youthful tendency for occasional rudeness in my writing, but that was many, many years ago.

I've been writing for some blogs, and the reader comments never fail to freak me out. (Not the Fallen Princess commenters; you guys are a self-selecting, polite group.) But at these other blogs, which I don't want to complain about because they actually pay me, unlike the cheap-ass owner of Fallen Princess, the commenters are just full-on rude, illiterate and venomous. I expect that people will disagree with me, of course, but the hostility of the disagreement somehow still surprises me.

I've spent quite a bit of time pondering this feeling of being thrown to the psycho online lions. Also, I unsuccessfully tried to find studies about online incivility. This is the only explanation I could come up with: Obviously, the anonymity that blogs offer their commenters frees people to express themselves in horrible ways. So here's my solution: I suggest that when commenting, be brave enough to use your real name. If you wouldn't want your comment to be attributed to you, then don't say it.

Allrighty then.