This morning I got out of bed, put an elastic in my hair, tossed on clean clothes, and rushed to get my kid ready for school. I’d been under the weather for the past couple of days, but today I was starting to feel more human. When my son, W, saw me scrambling to get his lunch made, he crooned, “Mama! You look great!”
I wanted to dismiss it. I was moments from laughing it off. Then I realized not only would that have made me a huge jerk, but it would have indicated I thought looking “great” was something loftier than simply being healthy. To my son I was just perfect, it didn’t matter that I didn’t feel great.
When actress Melissa McCarthy, took on the comedic role of Tammy a few years ago, she embraced that it wasn’t a character who aimed for perfection. Instead she was a bit of a hot mess.
“Well, everybody’s a train wreck in their own very special way. But there’s something wildly freeing about someone who’s unapologetic, who knows they’re a wreck and doesn’t even try to hide it, just bulldozes through life. It’s fun to play those characters. And it’s more fun to watch than someone gliding through life having perfect hair.”
After Tammy was released a critic who had seen the film at the Toronto Film Festival wrote a review with some cruel and sexist commentary about McCarthy’s performance in it. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly and later on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, McCarthy talked about what happened when she ran into this critic months later and talked to him about the review.
McCarthy asked, “Are you the one who wrote I was only a good actor when I looked more attractive and that my husband should never be allowed to direct me because he allowed me to look so homely?”
When the critic admitted he was, McCarthy continued with, “Would you say that to any guy? When John C. Reilly — or any actor — is playing a character that is depressed and dejected, would you say, ‘Well, you look terrible!’?”
McCarthy then asked the critic if he had a daughter and, when he said yes, she offered this bit of advice, “Watch what you say to her. Do you tell her she’s only worthwhile or valid when she’s pretty?”
The actress went on to ask him if his daughter came home and said someone told her she can’t have a job because she’s unattractive, would he say, “That’s right”?
He responded, “No, I would never want that to happen. I would never in a million years want that to happen.”
When elaborating on the story with DeGeneres, McCarthy shared she did believe the critic was a kind man and loving father. She urged him to understand,
“Every time you write stuff, every young girl in this country reads that and they just get a little bit chipped away. And I just think that we tear down women in this country for all these superficial reasons and women are so great and strong, and I think he really heard that.”
I think it’s not just critics who need to hear this, but moms as well. We are so ridiculously hard on ourselves over how we look. We are so certain that the world is judging us, and it is always a disappointment to find out that sometimes, yes, yes the world is looking at you.
But it’s not the world that matters.
Our kids are watching and they see how we take the compliments. Do we shrug them off or embrace them? Think about how we compliment our kids. Is it on accomplishments or appearances? Internal or external qualities?
How about we start doing both.More On