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.


  1. I don't blame her a bit. I blame the culture that requires it. She could continue to fight against it, sure. But the sheer effort of fighting against it has got to wear a gal down at some point.

  2. I love Sarah Silverman, I think her unique talent and personal charisma allow her to "get away with murder" as the saying goes. I think the tomboy clothes were/are a shtick as much as anything else, but it's terribly disappointing when one of the only women in entertainment who seems to have not "drunk the kool-aid" with regards to personal appearance seems to have developed a taste for kool-aid. I have to imagine she knows what she's doing, and she's just messing with us. She did what she does best: SHE SHOCKED YOU.

  3. I love you both, Christina and Mayim. Wanted to report I saw Sarah onstage last night in L.A. (West Memphis 3 benefit performance at Largo) and she was rocking a ponytail, baggy hoodie, black leggings, and (what it took me a while to realize was) a jean miniskirt. A nice compromise?

  4. Hear, hear! I know EXACTLY what you mean.

  5. And another one bites the dust... :)

    It will be interesting to see how her style evolves from now on.

  6. Maybe she just wanted to dress up for a different look? I loved the 90s for the Grunge look because I *lived* in my jeans and flannels for the comfort factor, but I also really looked forward to the occasions (as long as they were infrequent!) where I could really dress up, go all out with makeup, heels, and a 'do'.

    Maybe that's all it was - Sarah just wanted to dress up for a change. And it really *was* a change!

  7. Sorry, but bagging on another woman for wearing what she wants to wear isnt feminism. I am a typical t shirt, jeans and ponytail women, but sometimes I like to dress up. I assume Silverman is in some ways similar.

    Women have become our own worst enemies. We cant win. If Silverman had made the appearance in her signature look, some other female blogger would be calling her a slob right now.

    Please stop making judgements on how other women choose to express themselves through dress.

    1. I don't think she was being judgemental at all. I think she was showing concern for whether this is another side or Sarah that Sarah likes or if this is a side of Sarah she doesn't like and is being forced on her by male idealism about how a woman should appear. It seems to me the point it: if Sarah did this for herself, rock on Sarah! If Sarah was pressured into it we hope the pressure goes away and she can feel free to be herself again soon. That's not judgement. That's a real concern in our society.

  8. Is this a joke? Am I missing something? Did Mayim Bialik not appear on a little show called WHAT NOT TO WEAR??? Wow. A true "effortless confident female" can hold her own wearing anything. To me, this criticism by Mayim is no different than if Joan Rivers herself would have bashed Sarah if she showed up in jeans and a tee. I don't get it. Am I missing something?

  9. Did anyone see 30 rock this week? Just curious because it seemed to have very similar subject matter....

  10. It reminded me of the 30 Rock episode, too. Liz Lemon learned a lesson that's a valuable one for us all!

  11. Can't a woman sport some lip gloss and a blow-out without being derided as an anti-feminist throwback? Sorry Mayim but what Sarah chooses to wear isn't your business.

  12. Wow, I think some people are missing the point. She said she admired Silverman because she admitted that she felt the pressure to look like "you're supposed" to further her career.

  13. Ms Silverman has to play the game, to stay fresh!!! We may see her in burlap sack or mummy gauze as time rolls on! What remains constant is her brazen Jewish intellect, her hilarious dead pan timeing and her female energy makeing a place for a wider landscape that includes
    each of us to take risks.

  14. It's "dyke" when it's a pejorative term for a lesbian. "Dike" or "dikey" references man made dams. I was a little hurt to see her use language like that.