The Maddow Makeup Conundrum: America is Afraid of Lesbians

BIG CAVEAT: I am not talking about the way Rachel Maddow looks, my which I mean her actual face. I am talking about the way she is made to look on her popular MSNBC television program The Rachel Maddow Show. Because people talk too much about womens’ actual faces. So I just wanted to make that perfectly clear. 

I have a theory that America (or North America in general) is afraid of lesbians. I mean real lesbians. Not fake lesbians who make out with each other at Jack Astors for free Jagerbombs. America loves those lesbians. No people I’m talking actual human lesbians. (Now watch out because I’m about to go all Judith Butler on your ass.) More specifically lesbians who do not perform the traditional behaviours of femininity. These include but are not limited to the removal of most/all body hair, the wearing of makeup, the subjection of the self to inhumane torture devices (spanx/stilettos/starvation), vajazzling and the infuriating habit of pitching one’s voice approximately two octaves above its natural timbre.  This is how society wants women to be! And (feminism 101 here) if you do not adhere to this society punishes you! And in lots of original and creative ways too! This could range from charming young men on the streetcar calling you a dyke because of your failure to shave your legs recently enough for their liking, to the complete inability to buy pants because of  your woefully misshapen thighs.

(To those fellows on the streetcar: I would like to sincerely apologize for any distress the sight of my slightly hairy legs may have caused you. I hope it didn’t cause you to throw up your Taco Bell and Budweiser Light with Lime. And I certainly hope the thought of it was not the cause of any sexual dysfunction you experienced when trying to make sweet tender love to your fuck buddy that night. By way of reparation I would like to offer you each one punch in the face. Sincerely, Courtney) 

To illustrate my point, here is a picture of Rachel Maddow during a television appearance (not on her own show):

She is wearing some makeup, sure. When you go on TV they have to put some makeup on you or else you literally look like a dead person. Especially when it’s HD. Pore city!

But here is another picture of Rachel Maddow:

Look at that! No makeup in sight! Just those really awesome glasses and a pretty sweet shirt. To be clear, I have no issues with lesbians wearing makeup. I have no issue with anyone wearing makeup if they want to.  Seriously, if you want to walk around with Insane Clown Posse shit on your face every day then more power to you. (In fact, I think that would be awesome.) My point is, it is obviously not something Rachel cares all that much about and is not part of the image of herself she hopes to put out into the world.

Except then there’s this: WHO IS THAT?

This is Rachel Maddow’s picture from the MSNBC website. And this is how she typically looks while hosting her show. She is wearing some serious makeup here! This is a look that the boys on the streetcar would approve of! Except for maybe the stubbornly lesbiesque short hair.

Imagined MSNBC meeting:

Exec 1: The face is better, but can’t we make her hair longer?

Exec 2: Maybe she could wear a wig.

So what’s the problem? Maybe she just wants to look nice on TV when she’s interviewing very important people. In this profile from New York magazine she says her partner, Susan Mikula encouraged her to wear makeup on the show because without it she “looked like a dead person.” (See! I told you!) But then the profile goes on to say this:

“Maddow has long prided herself on her androgynous appearance; early in her radio career, the hosts at her morning show once took her out on the street to have passersby try to guess her gender as a stunt.”

Yet in her MSNBC picture, and on her show, she is decidedly non-androgynous. She looks like a Lady with a capital “L.”

Where are the glasses? Where is the rakish hair? Why does she appear to be wearing large fake eyelashes? Why couldn’t she host her show looking like she does when she appears everywhere else in the world?

Now I do know that she doesn’t get completely subsumed by the MSNBC-feminization-industrial complex. I know that while she dons a fetching tailored blazer on her top half, her bottom half always sports jeans and very snazzy running shoes. I know this because I saw it, with my own eyes, on her show while she was demonstrating how nuclear fuel rods work. So that’s a win, since I’m fairly sure that beneath her anchor desk CNN’s Megyn Kelly wears only her perfectly sculpted pubic hair. (This is not an anti-woman thing to say since I would totally say the same thing about Wolf Blitzer. Pass the eye/mind bleach.)

So this is why I think America is afraid of lesbians. If Rachel Maddow went on network television every night looking like this…

… all of the mid-west would simultaneously shit their pants. Not that I think the entire population of the United States is homophobic. Because that would be a ridiculous thing to say. But I think in order to be let into the “mainstream” media (or “lamestream” media as comic genius S. Palin calls it), especially as a woman, you have fit into a pretty narrow spectrum of how to look. And I’m sure Rachel herself, because she’s a smart fucking person, would probably agree. And my best guess as to why she acquiesces? She wants to get shit done. She wants to do her work and not have to bother with people having opinions about her face. So she does what needs to be done so she can do what she needs to do. Or maybe she just doesn’t want to look dead on TV. Which just goes to show that even if you’re a badass Rhodes scholar who is smarter than everyone I’ve ever met combined… you’ve gotta put on the fake eyelashes. And that fucking sucks.

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4 thoughts on “The Maddow Makeup Conundrum: America is Afraid of Lesbians

  1. Deirdre says:

    Also, it’s really frustrating that women who identify as straight and do not perform the traditional behaviours of femininty seem to confuse society even more. Like that summer I gave up shaving my armpits and my mom was like “that’s disgusting, have some pride in the way you look” WTF, mom!

  2. Diane D'Angelo says:

    Any woman who does not conform to traditional notions of “femininity” on some level will be ostracized. If she is straight or bi she likely will not find a male partner unless he is subservient in some way. I find “TV Rachel” because that’s my personal taste.

  3. Alisha says:

    WELL DONE. That does fucking suck. At first I criticized her for conforming to TV standards so that she doesnt scare off America, but after reading your input, I get it. Go Rachel.

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