Over at Jezebel, they write: "Sadly, the whole physical transformation thing matters because if she didn't do it, there's a chance that no matter how smart or funny she was (and Lorne Michaels makes it clear they thought that even when she was heavier) we wouldn't even know her name..."
Now, I'm not going to argue that it isn't warped that television stars (mostly) have to be of a certain weight in order to succeed. Pace, Camryn Manheim, the Friends season 1 Jennifer Aniston (who was trim but nothing like she is now), and the pretty young woman who stars in Ugly Betty (America someone), zaftig mostly doesn't fly on the air. (OK. Aniston wasn't zaftig that first season of Friends, but she has said that she lost 20 or 30 pounds and the movie offers came rolling in and for some reason, she didn't put the weight back on.)
But then again, maybe not. The heavier Fey could indeed have made it on the air; I honestly suspect she would have but we don't know what would have happened because Fey decided not to leave it up to chance.
As a Salon writer noted (scroll down for the 12/2 post), Fey lost the weight because she was ambitious and wanted to be on TV. The weight loss meant she could do it without being labeled as the woman who did it without losing weight. That would've been a nice sort of feminist moment (although if she's healthier now, I'm not sure that that's altogether good either), but then we would've been having this discussion in reverse. If that were the case, would a heavy Fey be a story of body acceptance or cultural exceptionalism? I suspect the latter, though the rhetoric would be all about the former.
But this whole strain of discussion is absurd. OK. The most absurd thing is that Maureen Dowd even wrote about it (in Vanity Fair) in the first place. Fey, Like her 30 Rock co-star (the not overly thin but with a slamming bod) Jane Kurkowski, is pretty. Not drop-dea gorgeous, but normal pretty. More important than their looks, though, is the fact that both are extremely funny and extremely talented and that's why they're stars. That Fey lost weight to conform to society's idea of beauty? Like I said last night, it's too bad, but it doesn't make her any less authentic or her success any less remarkable. (And, uh, maybe she likes her bodies as it is now? Just maybe?)
So Fey, she's funny, she's a star of her own TV show, she's in a funny AmEx ad, she has a six million dollar book deal, and she earned all of it, and her waistline is essentially a sideline, so can we stop talking about it?
(I realize now that there's an opening to talk about how femal appearance played out in the election -- but then again, Hillary Clinton is poised to be Secretary of State and Sarah Palin is not. See, your smart, you work hard, you wear a lot of pantsuits, you're gonna make it after all, even if this crazy, appearance-obsessed, male-gaze dominated world of ours.)