The XX Factor

Tina Fey in Vogue: We’ve Been Handed a “Spice Girls’ Version of Feminism”

As a casual reader of fashion magazines, I did something I rarely do yesterday: ran out and bought Vogue as soon as it hit the local newsstand. Why? Because my heroine Tina Fey was on the cover! There has been some hubbub about how Fey’s scar was airbrushed -but this is Vogue’s m.o.: They airbrush everyone into oblivion . I was far more interested in the content of the article about Fey. Conducted by Jonathan Van Meter, the interview with the 30 Rock star was fairly fashion-focused (after all, this is Vogue ). It covered some of what has been mentioned in previous interviews, including the great one by Maureen Dowd in Vanity Fair last year -Fey’s weight loss and subsequent transformation from frumpy Chicago writer to sexy onscreen siren. Even though there wasn’t much new information in the article, there were still some great, funny comments from Fey within, particularly about her place in the culture. For instance: “I feel like I represent normalcy in some way. What are your choices today in entertainment? People either represent youth, power, or sexuality. And then there’s me, carrying normalcy … Me and Rachael Ray.”

Here’s Fey on the intersection of fashion and feminism:

I spend most of my time in my daily life trying to be like a fashion noncombatant. My hands are up! I’m not even trying! That said, to talk about the impact of fashion is really interesting. I think so much of it is tied into feminism. I am a post-baby boomer who has been handed a sort of Spice Girls’ version of feminism. We’re supposed to be wearing half-shirts and jumping around. And, you know, maybe that’s not panning out. But you can tell different generations of women by whether or not they wear that Hillary Clinton blue power suit or the reappropriated Playboy-symbol necklace worn ironically.

What Fey represents is the approachable, reasonable middle ground between Playboy necklace and power suit. On the show and in her real life, she wears sneakers and jeans. (Van Meter actually begins his piece with an extremely uncharitable anecdote about running into Fey the morning after the Golden Globes last year. He says she looked so harried and tired he “was afraid it wasn’t her.”) When she has an awards show to go to, she looks fabulous and vampy. She is an idealized version of the rest of us, and for that we love her.