WINDOW DRESSING

Posted in Rants on May 6th, 2010 by Ed

OK, I'll join the rest of the internet in offering two cents about People magazine's decision to put Gabourey Sidibe on its annual "Most Beautiful People" list. Let me attempt to explain what I think is so stupid about this without sounding as vicious and ugly as Debbie Schussel. Just to get everyone on the same page, this is the actress in question, star of (by all accounts) the unbelievably sappy Oscar bait Precious:

Rather than approaching this from the predictable (and already well-worn) "She is fat and ugly, and hence not beautiful" angle, I find this bothersome simply because People does not actually think she is beautiful either. They are using her to show the rest of us what progressive views they have on beauty standards. We are supposed to break into applause and say, "Way to go, People! Fatties can be beautiful too!" And we are also supposed to pay attention to a stupid annual list that we would otherwise ignore. So far, People is 2-for-2.

The problem is that if People really considered her "beautiful" their list of the 100 most beautiful people would not consist of Sidibe and 99 people who look like the 100 most beautiful people list always looks. The rest of the women on the list are the usual size-three-and-under suspects: Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara, and numerous other stick figures. If People has such an open mind about beauty, why isn't the list a nice mix of people of different sizes and appearance? Why is it 50 supermodels and Sidibe? And how much would anyone care to bet that next year the list is back to being fatty-free?

People is trying to establish some progressive street cred with a "most beautiful people" list, something that is inherently shallow and stupid. The depressing thing is that in a world in which KFC can be lauded for social consciousness by offering pink buckets of fried chicken, this will probably work.