The Secret to Tina Fey’s Success

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"As a gymnast I admire your blazer." "Thank you, it's armadillo." Photo: Getty Images (thin Tina)

Of the many things Tina Fey has accomplished, the thing we should be most impressed by is that she once was fat and now is thin. That's the big (heh) takeaway from Maureen Dowd's profile of Fey in the new issue of Vanity Fair, which puts a lot of weight (har) on the 30 Rock creator's weight, and how her (heroic! against-all-genealogical-odds!) loss of 30 pounds made her what she is today. This is kind of a weird angle for a general-interest magazine to take, we thought, flipping around looking for the sidebar about the 5 Factor Diet. And with really nary a mention of, "Wow, our culture is a little superficial, huh"?

We know women are supposed to be used to the fact that, yes, looks are important and all, and we are, but still. Seriously, like 80 percent of the story about this smart, awesome woman is about how she used to be fat and now is thin. For instance:


• "Her food-obsessed doppelgänger on 30 Rock, Liz Lemon, longs to … go home and eat a big block of cheese."

• Fey's husband describes her in what Dowd calls "her pre-glamour-puss days, back in Chicago. 'She was quite round,' he says, 'in a lovely, turn-of-the-century kind of round — that beautiful, Rubenesque kind of beauty.'" Oh my.

• "Her true vice is cupcakes. I’ve brought her a box [Ed: Is Maureen Dowd being kind of a bitch here or is it us?], one frosted with the face of Sarah Palin. She chooses that one, which is bigger, joking that it’s O.K. if she gains weight before her Annie Leibovitz photo shoot in a few days, because 'Annie’s going to photograph my soul, right?'"

• "When it comes to her looks, she’s both forgiving and self-deprecating. 'The most I’ve changed pictures out of vanity was to edit around any shot where you can see my butt,' she says."

• "'I really wasn’t heavy in high school,' Fey recalls over lunch one afternoon at Café Luxembourg, where she dutifully switches her order from a B.L.T. to a salad."

• “I’m five four and a half, and I think I was maxing out at just short of 150 pounds, which isn’t so big. But when you move to New York from Chicago, you feel really big.”

• "She saw herself on an SNL monitor as an extra, 'and I was like, 'Ooogh.' I was starting to look unhealthy. I looked like a behemoth, a little bit. It was probably a bad sweater or something. Maybe cutting from Gwyneth Paltrow to me.' She wanted to be 'PBS pretty' — pretty for a smart writer. She called Jeff, who was directing a show at Second City in Chicago, and said, 'O.K., I’m starting Weight Watchers.'" Then, of course, she lost the weight and became successful, like in a fairy tale or a chick-lit novel.

• "I got to that thing that’s so enjoyable where people tell you, 'Oh, you’re thin, you’ve gotten too thin.' Lorne was like, 'Please, please make sure you’re eating.'"

• "[Adam] McKay recalls Fey telling a story about her heavier days. 'Steve Martin walked right past her at the coffee table, and then, after the makeover, he was like, 'Well, hel-looo — who are you?'"

Right-o. So. Anyway, what's weird here? The fact that Vanity Fair unblinkingly basically credited Fey's success with her weight loss, or the fact that Tina Fey's weight loss is apparently responsible for her success? Food for thought. Of course, we're not touching it.

What Tina Wants [Vanity Fair]