Sarah Millican: The only pictures of people like me in magazines have the word BEFORE above them

"Millions of us find Miranda funny because we see part of ourselves in her... I’m certainly a member of the boob slap gang"

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Sarah Millican: The only pictures of people like me in magazines have the word BEFORE above them
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Sarah Millican

There is a satisfaction in seeing yourself in things. Not just while brushing your teeth (plucking your beard), walking past shop windows (checking for beard) and talking to someone in mirrored sunglasses, should you have the misfortune to know anyone who wears them (very handy if you’re feeling beardy).

I mean seeing someone like you. I rarely hear someone like me on the radio (unless it is ACTUALLY me or Adele and her wonderful song). I never see someone like me in magazines unless a celebrity is being criticised for piling on the beef (eating an ACTUAL meal), or they’re looking at winter coats and there’s a half page dedicated to apples (women’s shape, not the things in pies). Generally, the only time I ever see a picture of someone who looks like me in a magazine it has the word BEFORE above it. Or is so covered in circles highlighting what’s wrong that it looks like a spot the difference puzzle.

In films, you’re sometimes lucky to see a woman at all. The Bechdel test is used to identify films that have a gender bias. Something passes the Bechdel test if two female characters have a conversation that is not about a man. Seems crackers that such a thing is necessary. I can go whole days just talking about meals and cats. With or without another woman present.

This is where television takes the lead. There’s always room for improvement, of course, but I can plonk myself in front of the goggler and see normal, fed, happy women who look and sound like me and my friends. Miranda Hart is a prime example of that. Millions of us find her funny because we see part of ourselves in her. We all say the wrong thing, wear the wrong thing, and put candles out with the help of sprouts. I’m certainly a member of the boob slap gang.

Ruth Jones’s brilliant series Stella boasts another example of a proper woman. Proof that the funny one doesn’t always have to be the sidekick. And the cast of Girls on Sky Atlantic are living hilarious and sometimes brutally real lives, dancing daftly, having questionable flings, eating and sometimes not brushing their hair. When I have no make-up on and have not topped up my Mitchum 48-hour deodorant near my pits, I sometimes still go out for bread.

Why women are so misrepresented in the media is such a mystery when proper women are much more interesting. Women I know would never point out each other’s cellulite or stand by a big box of guns and scream for a man to rescue them. We rescue ourselves and each other every day (be it from a microwave dinner or simply the doldrums). Women I know carry torches in their pockets, make you feel better about your piles and fix their own washing machines. Sometimes all at once.


The Sarah Millican Television Programme is on Tuesday at 10:00pm on BBC2. 

Sarah's stand-up DVD, Thoroughly Modern Millican Live, is now available at amazon.co.uk

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