Five Things You Didn’t Know About The Red Carpet

Meg reports from the Emmys


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This weekend I was down in LA, watching the Emmy Awards red carpet from the first row, thanks to the lovely team at Keurig. While it’s true that when it comes to my passions red carpets and good TV rank right up there with whisky and politics, what I was most excited about was reporting back on what the red carpet is really like. In all the years I’ve spent live tweeting from my living room every red carpet ever, I learned that you, like me, love a good show. So while I was super grateful to Keurig for their hospitality (they put me up in a seriously amazing hotel room, hooked me up with a Rent The Runway dress, and gave me all the coffee and tea I could ask for), I really wanted a chance to show you all what happens behind the scenes of a huge production like the Emmys. Awards shows, like weddings, are basically the story of the duck that looks all calm on top of the water and is paddling furiously underneath. Unlike weddings, awards shows have a metric ton of publicists.


As someone who used to work in show business, and who now has a public facing job, I’m super aware of the fact that work is always work. Sometimes work involves fun things, like getting all dolled up and walking on a red carpet, but it’s still work. In short, I expected to report back that the red carpet was not all that fun. I figured I’d see tense celebrities, and be in a strictly policed uncomfortable bleacher environment. Turns out, this was not the case. The Emmy pages who were in charge of us were super nice, and also hilarious. They brought us water, let us stand up to take pictures when we weren’t supposed to, and made jokes. Which was a nice match, because by the time the celebrities got to us, they generally seemed to be having a pretty good time as well.

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The way the red carpet was set up was that A-listers got out of their cars at the end of what was basically press alley lined with TV booths. Once they were done with press, around the corner there was a long narrow carpet and us, the “bleacher fans.” That meant that by the time they made it to our section, they were mostly off duty. And that is where it got really interesting. With that in mind, here are five things you’ve always wanted to know about the red carpet.

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1. The part with the cameras is all a bit of a performance. The press portion of the red carpet was a zoo. Lights everywhere, production teams, and photographers. But what was fascinating to observe was the sheer amount of off-camera people that it takes to run that part of the show. The carpet was swarmed with production people in black jeans and t-shirts, publicists mostly wearing off the rack dresses, and network staffers who mostly seemed to be wearing black dresses and black flats. What that meant is that the celebrities and on-camera news anchors in their designer gowns and full hair and makeup looked like they were in costume. That part of carpet wasn’t any kind of fancy dress party, it was a production zone, and the actors were the ones dressed up.

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2. Celebrities (most of them) actually are a bit like you and me. When the celebrities got to us, they were more or less off stage. And that meant we saw a bunch of authentic behavior, which was fascinating. First, everyone was on their phones. The most photographed people on the planet were taking pictures of themselves with their friends or dates on their cell phones, or snapping pictures of other celebrities or the crowd. One (not particularly famous seeming) couple passed their cell to someone in the crowd and asked them if they would mind snapping a picture of them together. Then they thanked the person profusely. Apparently a picture you want is different from a picture the paparazzi takes. But mostly, everyone was just catching up. Someone would yell someone else’s name, and then they’d all run over and give hugs and introduce dates and chat.


The cast of OITNB spent forever just hanging out in a group while various members of the tribe got photographed in the 360 glam cam.

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By a stroke of luck, we happened to be sitting at the end of the fan section, which means people would round the corner and be totally offstage, but we could still hear them. Favorite outtakes include, “What the hell was that?” (After some woman told a star she loved her husband… who she was in the process of divorcing). “That was actually really fun.” (From the cast of Silicon Valley, who had just finished two minutes of silly posing for the crowd.) And “You know, he helps run the prison. The one with the mustache.” (As celebrities struggled to place other celebrities.)


3. There is huge diversity of experience on the red carpet, and the big movie stars seem to not be having very much fun. From the time I was in acting school, my theory was that you didn’t want to be a big star, because the trade off between no privacy and super success was not even close to worth it. The goal, as I saw it, was to be a successful niche actress. (I later just revised that to “being successful in a niche,” because, details.) My friends called it “Meg’s starlet dreams.” My nineteen-year-old plan for life success was proven to be exactly correct on Monday afternoon. Nobody looked like they were having less fun on the red carpet than the big stars. They looked fragile (possibly because they were drastically more underweight than anyone else, and being permanently hungry is awful). They looked jumpy, and removed, and wanted nothing to do with anyone but their handlers. (Kerry Washington being a notable exception. She seemed happy as hell to be rocking that red carpet.) But the TV stars, the ones that you love if you watched The Wire, or Mad Men, or Orange Is The New Black, or Modern Family, but might not know otherwise? Those people were having the time of their lives. Their friends were there, their fans were there, and it was time to take selfies. Let’s not even get into the moment where Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters started taking photos of my section of the bleachers on their phones and telling us to wave our hands in the air. I nearly died from the perfection of the moment. (Wendell and I even shared a pick for best dressed.)

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4.Your perspective on best and worst dressed is different in person. First up, some of the best and most interestingly dressed people are ones that are not going to get much airtime. Some of my personal favorites were  Teyonah Parris, Samira Wiley (whose girlfriend was wearing a silver sequin circle skirt, a black crop top, and fancy mohawk? My people), and Sunshine Coigney—Mark Ruffalo’s wife, whose style always kills. (In other news, Mark Ruffalo just keeps getting hotter, AMIRIGHT?)

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Second, what looks good in person doesn’t always translate in photos. I thought Sarah Paulson’s black and red explosion was a daring stunner. After it kept showing up in worst dressed lists, I realized it just didn’t look that great in photographs, which was a shame. As for Lena Dunham’s outfit? Well. In person I just thought it was Lena doing Lena, with a little Man Repelling thrown in the mix.

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5. Celebrities are herded like cats. The red carpet is all glamor, right up to the point that it’s really not. By the end of the red carpet hundreds and hundreds of people—super big stars included—were tromping by us in a huge crowd, while the loudspeaker kept announcing things like, “The lobby bar is now closed.” “You really don’t want to miss the show.” “Please find your seats immediately.”

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And then just like that it was over. We were quickly ushered out, and on our way to the car we walked past an airport-sized parking lot, full of hundreds and hundreds of black cars. The drivers were all grouped in circles, hanging out and shooting the shit. They were going to be there till the end of the show, when they had to shuttle the stars to parties.

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As for us, we were off to watch the Emmy’s on TV, wearing Rent The Runway dresses, in a glam hotel suite rented by Keurig. And that was damn pretty nice too.

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More reading: What Lena Dunham is doing with her carefully scripted red carpet looks. Why the Emmy’s is on repeat. (or: FFS, why is Modern Family still winning every year?) Sarah Paulson on life when you’re permanently dieting and lying about it.

Ok, dish. What else do you want to know about behind the scenes? Any red carpet VETERANS in the crowd? What did we think of Lena’s Outfit? How much do we love the OITNB girls? Let’s chat. This post was sponsored by the new Keurig 2.0 brewing system. Thanks Keurig for making our Emmys trip a possibility! More on the Keurig 2.0 coming next week. 

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  • Kelsey

    My love for the OITNB girls is extreme, and this instagram series and article only confirms it.

    • MC

      I KNOW. A bunch of them were on Conan a few weeks ago and they just seemed so happy and fun and into each other. They are the best.

  • Re #3: OMG, BUNK! That is all.

  • I rarely agree with the best/worst dressed list. I love Sarah Paulson’s dress. It’s fun!

    • Meg Keene

      It looked super hot in person. I was also into it because it was different. ALSO. She was so clearly a nice person (it was really interesting to see who seemed nice/ who DID NOT. And that’s excepting people clearly having a bad moment, aka, Matthew McConaughey and Lena.)

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Agree with you both but SP can do no wrong in my book…

    • Jules

      From that link, I thought the floral print on Betsy Brandt and Katherine Heigl’s dress was sophisticated in a beautiful champagne (yes, she does look older). “washes her out”? I don’t see nearly as many complaints when millions of brides marry in stark white every year. It was gorgeous.

      • Meg Keene

        Loved the Betsy Brandt dress. Did not not not love Katherine Heigl’s dress in person…. I actually liked most of the dresses in person, so that’s one of the few I didn’t. The fact that she did not seem… um… nice…. may be TOTALLY coloring that opinion, though. Probably a good confidence booster for all of us—nice/kind/happy/whatever seeming people actually do look pretty, no matter what they’re wearing ;)

        • Jules

          Katherine Heigl isn’t nice-seeming?!? Illusion shattered!

          I hope this doesn’t mean my wedding gown will look awesome in person and just not photograph well.

          • Lauren

            Wait, are you joking? It’s well-documented that she left Grey’s in a big huff, and has been blocked from lots of roles for her ‘tude. Er, guess I read too much celeb news online. :)

  • l_weston

    I am always surprised by how short/small famous people seem in person. Was this true on the red carpet too?

    • Meg Keene

      It varied. A lot of people I’ve run into in the past are TEENSY (Ellen). On the red carpet Jimmy Kimmel was teensy, and Melissa McCarthy is so, so, so super short. But a lot of people were normal height. The more famous, the more painfully thin though. That whole “you must diet constantly to have a career” thing just kills me.

      • KC

        I can’t even imagine what they have to eat and on what kind of a schedule to stay coherent (not in blood sugar shock, not get dehydrated) and to also not have their hair fall out, etc., and still be that skinny, even with a “good” metabolism. I guess that’s what personal chefs and juicing are for? But it seems like such a painful thing to have to deal with to that degree.

        • Meg Keene

          I’ve always had a “good” metabolism, and been pretty small, so comparing my size to the size of celebrities my age was…. instructive. Painfully instructive. I’m still actually kind of emotional about it, and I just WHAT? Where is that coming from? But thinking about it makes me tear up.

          In a picture, you think, “Oh, that person is thin.” In real life you look at people (not everyone, but many of the big stars) and it actually reads as “something is really off here.” Then someone at a more normal size walks by and your brain is like OH THANK GOD THAT PERSON LOOKS SAFE.

          Just. Still really emotional. The fact that women have to do that for their careers is just, ouch.

          • KC

            Yeah, there’s decently-healthy-looking skinny and then there’s looks-like-you’re-going-through-cancer-treatment-and-not-winning skinny (which I will grant there is the slightest shade of possibility it might be healthy for some very very few people – different weights are indeed healthy on different people and “look” different on different people – but honestly going that far probably isn’t healthy for various bodily systems, even more than knee-damaging obesity isn’t totally healthy).

            Why exactly our culture suggests that a weight that would still be on the low end of healthy (say, for the average of all “healthy weights”) is still way too much weight for someone in camera-oriented media is a bit of a question. I mean, if the camera adds 10 pounds – why do we not just mentally adjust for that as a culture?

            Also, it sounds like the guys did not have this gasp-inducingly-skinny thing going on – is that just the difference between suits vs. the dresses, or does the camera only add 10 pounds to women, or are men allowed to be that 10 pounds heavier?

          • Meg Keene

            GOOD POINT. All the men looked more or less healthy weights. I mean, some were on the small side, but most looked normal. Normal, like, they have time to go to the gym on the regular, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had that, but like HEALTHY. GOOD. A good fraction of the women, not so much. And we all know it’s industry pressure, not just natural love of not eating food.

            And yes, there are totally naturally super thin people. Hell, there are stars that look thin, but fine. (Maybe they’re 5 or 10 pounds from where their body would hold naturally, but cool. The gym and no sugar can do that.) I had a friend in college who was a model, and she was just teeny and tall. When you saw her, you were like “Girlfriend is thin!” end of story. But when someone is 25 pounds plus under their healthy weight, it just doesn’t read the same way in your brain, in person. It reads like “ACK ACK they are in trouble.” It’s fascinating that some deep lizard part of our brain knows the difference between healthy thin and unhealthy thin, but for sure it does.

          • macrain

            I always think Matt Lauer looks quite thin, even on television. Once I saw a segment where someone brought him pizza, and he looked pretty mad about it. I’m sure men in hollywood are not immune to this shiz (to varying degrees), but as you point out- it is so, so much worse for women. Just reading your comments makes my heart sad.

          • Caroline

            I am sure men in Hollywood are not immune to body pressure, but I think the pressures are very different. I read an article saying talking about the tremendous amount of protein Chris Evens had to eat (along with the very intensive workout routine) to achieve Captain America’s physique. It seems like for a lot of guys who are more action stars, there may not be pressure to be skinny, but there is tremendous pressure to have a certain physique that takes massive amounts of work.
            I’m not saying it’s as unhealthy an expectation for women, or that there are as many expectations for men as for women (see Mark Ruffalo looks hot with grey hair comment above, which is not a look “allowed” for the 47 year old actress.) but clearly, the extreme pressure to look a certain way is there for men and women.

          • enfp

            Side note just to question whether we can accurately judge someone’s health by looking at their body weight. I mean, to be clear I don’t doubt what you saw at the Emmys – Hollywood obviously has extreme and damaging body standards and your assumption that some women are unhealthily thin is likely to be accurate, due to industry pressure. But in real life, it’s just an assumption, which may or may not be accurate. Just as many people who are judged by society to be as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ are perfectly healthy, so are some scary skinny people. You can’t necessarily tell how healthy someone is based on their body weight, without more information about their lives. I used to be one of those people who read as scary, unhealthy thin. I constantly got negative comments about my body couched as concerns for my health. The assumptions made about my health were just… totally wrong. That’s where my body weight naturally landed (at that time in my life). I was shocked by how many people felt it was totally fine to talk about my body in a negative way. I appreciate that you are intentionally *not* talking about a specific person’s body in a negative way, but in my experience a lot of people share your assumption that they can judge someone’s health by their body weight, without sharing your tactfulness in how those assumptions are discussed/acted upon. Hence me bothering to comment on this. Anyways, just a small aside, not at all meant to detract from this very interesting and positive discussion of body weight issues in Hollywood. Also, majorly agree that Ruffalo keeps getting hotter!

          • Meg Keene

            Oh, trust me, I know this. For most of my life I was crazy crazy crazy underweight. It wasn’t actually very awesome at all, for very many reasons. So anyway, trust me when I say I FEEL you on that.

            That’s not, however, what’s going on with actresses. The trouble is, they have to pretend it is, and we all sort of pretend to believe them. I find it so damaging that actresses are like “Ha ha ha, I just wake up like this and eat whatever I want, and it’s so WEIRD that I’m just naturally 25 pounds under a healthy weight for my body, what luck huh!?” Because first, it’s a damn lie in 99% of the cases. And second, being drastically underweight isn’t lucky in the first place!

            And also, we should clearly differentiate between people who are naturally really underweight, and people who are naturally very very very thin. They’re different things. One sort of sucks, the other is just how you’re made. (They also look somewhat different if you’ve been one or the other and know the signs.) And then there is UN naturally really underweight, AKA, what you are pushed to be, to be very successful in Hollywood.

          • Jules

            I’m 8″ shorter than Blake Lively and 5 pounds heavier. Kind of makes me glad that I wasn’t on the red carpet, where everyone would be speculating about what the hell I’ve been doing that I’m 50 pounds too heavy or whatnot.

          • joanna b.n.

            “if the camera adds 10 pounds – why do we not just mentally adjust for that as a culture?”

            Yes! Good lord. Sometimes someone says something, and it makes me realize that we have all lost our minds. Why do we not just adjust!? Why must we be obsessed with the skinny!?!?!

        • Emily Shepard

          The thing that drove this point home for me was looking at pictures of RuPaul. I finally looked RuPaul up on google images to see what he looks like as a man (I don’t generally follow RuPaul or watch Drag Race, sorry if this is old news to everyone else).

          What struck me is this: when dressed as a woman, she looks “average” to what I’m used to seeing from female celebrities. When dressed as a man, I thought he looked very thin. And it is absolutely the same person, just dressed as a woman and dressed as a man. It really made me reconsider my own perceptions of what “average” is for celebrity men versus women.

  • macrain

    Molly from Fargo! We just started watching it, I was so happy to see her killing it in that green dress. Just beautiful.
    SO interesting, especially #3. It seems like they totally proved your theory of stardom right, Meg.
    I live in NYC, and a minor celeb sighting is almost like, more cool and exciting than a major one. (Case in point- I am still talking about that time I saw Ethan from Lost.) It would be fascinating to see Angelina Jolie, but it would be cool a shit to see Taystee or Daya from OITNB.

    • Mezza

      Black Cindy from OITNB warned my wife that her shirt was falling down in the middle of a crosswalk in Hell’s Kitchen one time, and it’s like our favorite celeb story ever, even though I used to work Broadway opening nights and saw a zillion more famous people. A close second, though, is the time I literally collided with Christopher Walken at the bar at one of those parties.

      • Meg Keene

        BLACK CINDY. Black Cindy is totally underrated. I saw her too, btw. Radness.

    • Meg Keene

      When I was in NYC when you’d run into a major star they’d just look… like caged animals. I remember running into Brandy at the height of her fame at a deli, and she looked at me with this terrified, trapped look, like “Please I’m begging you, don’t say anything, don’t react, don’t blow my cover.” So I nodded at her and moved on, but HOLY HELL, how could you wish that on yourself? No amount of money is worth it. None.

      • KC

        I’d expect it to be pretty hard to hit the middle line where you’re famous enough to keep doing the “thing” you want to do (in terms of having the opportunities available, being enough in demand that you have *some* creative control, and, y’know, enough money to live on)… but not so famous that you can’t go outside. A lot of fame/recognizability is partly chance-based (does something you’re in go really, really hot/viral… or not), and you generally can’t quickly dial down the famous-meter. (plus there’s the general pressure to keep getting more famous, and I’d imagine that “has so-and-so’s career peaked?” headlines would be annoying/terrifying and all that as well)

    • LisaG

      I’ve seen Samira Wiley (Poussey) at my gym twice and I got so excited both times! I already loved her in OITNB, but seeing her in person elevated it to a complete obsessive girl crush.

      • Meg Keene


      • Mezza

        Hello I would like to join your gym please.

      • WHAT! omg.

    • M.

      A minor celeb is way more exciting, I totally agree! I have seen Naomi Watts and Debra Messing and Paul Dano and Fred Armisen, but the most excited I ever got was riding the F train with Lutz from 30 Rock. That was a great day.

      • Erin

        He is such a nice man! I am a big 30 Rock geek and went to their soundtrack signing at the NBC store and when I told him I was a writer he was really sweet to me.

      • Emily Shepard

        That is amazing, but as a 30 Rock fan you can’t passively say phrases like “riding the F train with Lutz.” ;)

        • M.


  • Caitlyn

    So… I live in Baltimore and have avoided watching the Wire intentionally (because I love living here and didn’t want to have this bad perception people seem to have about Baltimore from watching the Wire forced on me) – BUT then I caved like two weeks ago and holy crap it is AMAZING and I rarely get to freak out over it because everyone I talk to is like – um, yup been there done that like 10 years ago – so this just made my day!!! Yay!!

    • Meg Keene

      It’s the best show in the last decade, hands down. We’ll see if Mad Men is just as good. It might be, if they can close out strong. But JESUS H CHRIST it’s good.

      Interesting about Baltimore. I mean, the outskirts are real real nice. But I’ve driven around inner city Baltimore and it is GRIM. I don’t say that with outside judgement, I grew up going to schools in my own towns inner city that was also GRIM. Anyway, so while I think it’s a limited view of Baltimore, since it’s only portraying a single part, it doesn’t seem inaccurate. In that, inner city Baltimore is just terribly poor and terribly neglected, no? Regardless, as someone who grew up around inner cities, it does such a good job of shining a light on those very real problems.

      • sara

        I really don’t like when people make these negative sweeping generalizations about Baltimore. Of course it has significant challenges but calling it GRIM and “terribly poor and terribly neglected” (based simply on driving around it?) is completely offensive (and wildly inaccurate). I lived there for many years (a social worker for HIV+ children/teens), and many of my good friends still live there. Driving around “inner city” Baltimore does not provide you with a sense of the city AT ALL, nor does a TV show- no matter how amazing it is. I agree with Caitlyn, I also avoided the Wire (despite dating someone who was on the show) for the longest time because of the negative perception, and recently finished the series. Amazing series! Also, a wonderful amazing city, with a huge loving heart that does not deserve the snap judgement that people make. Oh well, it will always be Charm City to me. Jimmy McNalty for life. Now to find some blue crabs with old bay and natty bo…

        • Meg Keene

          Hang on, I grew up in a inner city not unlike Baltimore. So please don’t get the idea that I don’t have a whole lot of love for that world, and see a whole lot of layers to it. But that said, the inner city world I grew up in WAS grim. It was a horrible trap of poverty and death. I can have a whole lot of love for my upbringing and the people in it, and still know that it was grim and horrible, and that’s why attention must be paid and change needs to happen.

          Maybe Baltimore isn’t as grim as where I grew up, though I think the murder rates are probably pretty similar. But inner city poverty IS grim, and horrible, and a trap. Inner cities are also full of a lot of loving, wonderful, smart people who I have more respect for than people I’ve met anywhere else. (Which is part of why I love The Wire. It reflects people we’ve known our whole life, not to mention the criminal defense work my husband has done.) But that doesn’t make the poverty any less horrible. Maybe none of that applies to Baltimore, and it only looks like where I grew up. But I just can’t soft peddle how horrible poverty in our inner cities is, and how ignored.

          • MTM

            Not sure why this comment hasn’t gotten more attention, but attention is totally due here.

      • Daisy6564

        I believe the show is actually very accurate because one of the writers was a Baltimore City cop and teacher (Presbo is based loosely on him). Also, many of the actors are real ex (and even current) gang members. Omar and Snoop are two that come to mind.

        • Meg Keene

          My mom spent most of her career as an inner city elementary school teacher, and all of that part of The Wire rings true. There is nothing quite as tragic as your fourth grade student being arrested on a gun charge because of a gang initiation. And that sort of incident was not rare, and is not rare. We just don’t talk about it in mainstream culture very much, which compounds the tragedy.

    • Daisy6564

      Sonja Sohn was shooting another TV series near me about 4 years ago and she used to shop at the store where I worked. Every time I saw her I was like “Kima! OMG it’s Kima!!!!” and none of my coworkers had seen The Wire so they didn’t know what I was talking about.

      My husband had never seen it because he often avoids things everyone else is into :). I finally convinced him to watch it last year and he loved it. I got to geek out over it with him all over again. Its great watching someone else watch a show that you love and to see their reactions.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    In other news, Mark Ruffalo just keeps getting hotter, AMIRIGHT?

    Dunno… I like him better in the early 2000s when he was always naked in everything!

    • Meg Keene

      As I said to Maddie, “Happy and devoted family men are just so SEXY.” I’ve actually been a big Mark Ruffalo fan since the amazing You Can Count On Me (which I re-watch every year or so, because it’s such a master class in acting and writing). And I served him cupcakes in 2002, and was clearly star struck, before people were regularly star struck with him, and he couldn’t stop smiling and gave me a $10 tip. GOOD PEOPLE.

      Anyway. Grey hair on men is hotttttt.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Heh. I just wanted to make the peen comment. :-|

  • Caitlin_DD

    Hayden Panettiere has one of the best pregnant red carpet looks I’ve ever seen! And I curious, did every big star really look so starved? Not even a couple of them managed to look healthy? I don’t doubt you, it’s just… sad.

    • Meg Keene

      She looked super hot. As you can see in that picture, she came right over to us and talked to us. There were actually 4-5 really hot pregnant women on the carpet (not all very famous, so not all photographed). Though interestingly, even those bodies didn’t quite look like… regular bodies. The were somehow very tiny actress bodies who happened to be pregnant. I kept saying, “My next pregnancy, I WISH I WISH.” I don’t know how you do it pregnant, but I suspect it’s a shit ton of exercise targeted for pregnant women (like, more than a person with a job could ever do) and a personal chef catering exactly to pregnancy needs. Though bless, Beyonce put on a ton of weight too while pregnant ;)

      Amy Poehler looked normal sized. (I mean like, size 4 or 6, but normal). And Lena, obviously. Though for all people talk about how “curvy” Lena is, I think she’s about my size. Like a… six? Which should put into perspective just HOW tiny people are.

      It’s… really sad in person. People look fragile. And in one case (that I won’t name to be kind) people actually gasped after she walked by. And not the good gasp, the “OMG, that hurts just to look at” gasp of concern. And what it does to the rest of woman kind, just OH GOD, it hurts to think about.

      • Violet

        Huh. So is it true that “the camera adds ten pounds?” Because I watch shows where I think the actresses are thin, but not OMG! thin. Like, take Kaley Cuoco Sweeting. She doesn’t seem scary-thin to me, but are you saying she would look thinner in real life?

        • Meg Keene

          Oh YEAH, that’s a true thing. And that’s why there is pressure to be so so skinny. Also, our perspective is off, because stars are next to stars, not next to normal people. If they were next to normal people we’d be all “What? Kate Winslet is smaller than this person I consider small? Why do we think she’s curvy again? WHAT IS GOING ON?”

          • Violet

            Wowza. That’s a lot of pressure. So happy I’m a “normal” person, ie, not famous and scrutinized!!

          • KC

            That’s one interesting thing I noticed in the photos you posted of stars-all-dressed-up + other people – it does give some perspective (although we don’t know the “handlers” and such, so it’s not a clear read on how skinny/not people are. But still.).

        • Lauren

          I went to a taping of Will and Grace ten years ago. I was shocked at how thin Debra Messing was in real life. And in between scenes, she kept putting on a heavy coat. It was not cold in the least.

      • CJ

        Some of the actresses looked painfully thin even on TV, so I can’t imagine how thin they look in person. Julianna Margulies, for example. I love her on TGW, but man has she gotten THIN. It’s not obvious on TGW because she’s in power suits, but in that clingy dress it was kind of shocking. I don’t remember her being that thin on ER.

        • Meg Keene

          Painfully thin. I don’t know why it makes me so sad. But it made me sad in person and thinking back on it, it actually brings tears to my eyes. Like, I’m a pretty small person, and these people look nothing like me. And it looks like it hurts.

        • She’s exactly who I was thinking of too.

          • Well, she and Julie Bowen have always given me that impression :/

      • Erin

        I work in an entertainment related industry and my boss and I have noticed when doing red carpet is that the stars seem to have heads that seem disproportionately large to their bodies. Did you notice that? Maybe just normal heads look like bobbleheads on their super skinny bodies? Maybe there is a certain head to body ratio that translates to looking normal on camera? Even men who seem so buff on TV looked so shockingly thin to me.

        • Meg Keene

          Oh yeah! That’s a fact. Big headed people look good on the screen. I have a crazy bobble head (and passed that on to my kid, that was a fun labor) so this has long been a fact imparted to me, growing up in Southern California.

          So yes, stars are bobble headed people. It’s not all in your mind.

          That is the weirdest comment I have ever typed.

      • Caitlin_DD

        …now that is a reality check. I wear clothes 3 sizes larger than Lena Dunham, but on the red carpet, she doesn’t look like that. Okay, I get it now. Those people are SKINNY.

        • Meg Keene

          I’ve been unable to stop thinking about this. Lena Dunham is more or less MY SIZE. She’s MY SIZE. I mean, I wasn’t right next to her, so maybe we’re not the exact same dress size, but more or less? Similarly sized small people. And even here, we’re talking about how Lena is like, taking one for the curvy/plus sized girls. Just: what in the living fuck is happening with how this conversation is framed in the media? Can you imagine what would happen if I started writing essays for APW about living as a curvy/plus sized woman???? I mean, I’d be burned alive, and rightly so. Why? BECAUSE I’M SMALL. Also, so is she. She just has normal amounts of fat on her body, because that’s… how we come??

          • Caitlin_DD

            Exactly. I’m still processing this. I’m pretty embarrassed to have ever considered her plus size (and not in a negative way, just in general) when I do *not* consider the people in my life that way. I think it’s very hard for people who can’t see things in person to get perspective on this. I know logically that those actresses are so skinny, but at the same time, I’ve been trained to think they are the norm for humanity, something achievable. It’s… I don’t know. Something to ponder.

          • Meg Keene

            Right. Also this is the opposite of “Plus Size is Bad” (just in case anyone misunderstands me here). It’s more pointing out we’re COMPLETELY ignoring actual plus size, if we’re making size 6 and 8 actresses our totems of… plus sized ness? That sentence is possibly too absurd to have even typed. Not to mention totally skewing all of our ideas of what any kind of normal body looks like.

          • Lauren from NH

            Yup. I find Mindy Kaling pretty damn normal too, but people treat her like her size is one of her additional disabilities. Just another reason they are extra shocked she is successful and dares to show her face in white male dominated comedy and skinny female dominated Hollywood.

        • Meg Keene

          When I think about it that way, I think her dress might be a little bit more of a “fuck you.” If people were constantly referring to me as plus sized or whatever TOTALLY absurd thing for them to call a size 6/8 whatever, unrelated to what real bodies look like, I think I’d be like “PLEASE GO FUCK YOURSELF WHILE I WEAR THIS BURLAP SACK BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE TO PLAY YOUR BULLSHIT GAME MADE OF LIES.” It’s just like a world where no logic applies. I can understand not feeling like playing.

      • meleyna

        Pregnancy weight gain is so weird. I gained it alllll in my face the first time around. I didn’t let anyone take pictures of me ever. Second time, not gonna lie, I looked damn good for gaining 30 pounds.

    • JDrives

      Her whole look owned! My jaw actually dropped with that illusion v-neckline. Yowza!

  • Sarah E

    I dig what you said about the actors looking costumed. Hazard of the trade, I guess, but it’s definitely what struck me when you were IG-ing from LA. If I had to dress up to the nth degree and everyone around me was wearing shorts, I’d be pissed. . . .it’s just like dressing up for date night and heading out to dinner to find everyone else around you is one or two levels lower on the formality scale. Womp, womp. (I don’t mind killing it with some bold clothes choices, but I want them to be perceived as “wow, fearless.” not “wow, she’s really overdressed for this place”)

    • Meg Keene

      Yeah, it was really odd, and seemed like it would make the whole thing way less fun.

      ALSO what struck me (and I forgot to work in) is how different designer dresses are from regular people clothes. I’d look at a dress, think it was great, look at it more closely, and realized that whatever I bought like it would basically look like the halloween costume version. In NYC you’d sometimes see someone out for Halloween in a real costume from a movie (I don’t know how that happened, but it did). Putting the movie costume of X-men next to the halloween costume from X-men is like putting a designer gown next to a off the rack gown (even an expensive one). They’re, like, not real people clothes. I wish they were, mind you, but they’re not.

      • Sarah E

        Oh, I would completely expect that. I’m not really into fashion in an abstract way because of that. Personal style? Hellz yeah. But what goes down the runway (and in this case, on the red carpet) is more of an art showcase. Which, cool, but I’m more interested in what wedding guests are wearing than celebs.

        And it goes back to what you said: these people are at work, not out for a night on the town.

  • CJ

    Lena’s outfit, oh boy. It really looks like she was trying hard to make sure she was on the worst-dressed list. I think she’s so talented, and I hate the focus on her “curves” (blech), but, seriously, does she even try to look good? She seems to dress in the most unflattering outfits possible.

    • Meg Keene

      I suspect that was part of the point.

    • Violet

      I could see this two ways.

      One is that there are PLENTY of women out there with BMIs that are not being represented well. In any medium. So Lena’s choice could be seen as a missed opportunity- instead of Lena showcasing how women needn’t be thin to be good-looking, she chooses not to. So there’s that, and I get that this could be frustrating to women who are not being represented.

      The other is a broader point that women’s bodies needn’t be good-looking to have value. Our bodies are here to perform many functions. If one of those is to attract other people with its aesthetic beauty, fine. But it’s many women’s experience that this one function is crowding out the rest due to our culture, male gaze, etc. So Lena could be taking the opportunity to say, “Hey, my writing is fantastic, I’m a kick-ass director, ya’ll love my show. So my body is irrelevant.”

      If indeed she’s going for #2, then I hope at least she gets enjoyment out of her ensembles, for her own benefit. Otherwise that point might be made more clearly by going completely rogue (I dunno, black pants and black shirt, or something), whereas here it’s ambiguous (to me, at least) if she cares what her body looks like or not.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        I really liked this line from the Times article, which suggests that maybe she just going off of pure instinct: My friend Jemima says I’m like a man who has decided to rifle through his wife’s closet and cross-dress for the first time, selecting everything pink and shiny.

        • Violet

          Love this! Okay, that reinforces my suspicion (and hope!) that she’s enjoying herself. I just also would respect a woman’s right to not GAF, as many successful men are not required to in this arena of their lives.

      • MC

        The NYT article linked at the bottom has this LD quote re: her dress: “All I’m gonna say about my Emmy dress is that it looks like cake and feels like sweatpants #loveandjoy”

        Also in that article a good chunk of the dresses in the slideshow seem pretty normal. I think Lena probably gets more attention because her body is different than what we usually see, but seriously, have y’all seen the outfits that people wore to the VMAs?? Different celebrity crowd, but WAY weirder.

        • Violet

          I think you’re right about the increased attention just due to body type alone. I was reflecting more on this idea of “flattering” styles. Melissa McCarthy is also not rail-thin, but her clothes are always wicked flattering. So it seems that’s a priority for Melissa, whereas maybe Lena just wants to wear what she wants to wear. I don’t think we all need to “dress to our body-type,” or whatever.
          ETA: I’m not a big star-watcher, so I honestly haven’t seen much of what Lena wears in general. Mainly going off of this outfit. I didn’t look at that article you pointed out yet.

          • Meg Keene

            Or her Tweet, which I think is probably a better sum up, “All I’m gonna say about my Emmy dress is that it looks like cake and feels like sweatpants #loveandjoy”

    • H

      And here I was, so in love with her skirt that I was considering dip-dying my wedding dress in red Koolaid…

  • So I just read the linked NYT Lena Dunham piece and it felt…super awkward? Like they weren’t sure whether they were supposed to take the (maybe) bait or not, so instead of just not saying anything…they wrote a piece that didn’t actually say anything? And the piece doesn’t seem very self-aware? So bizarre.

    • Cleo

      Agreed. The whole text of the article could have been, “Lena Dunham wears clothes. She’s different,” and not have substantively changed the article.

      The idea that her red carpet looks specifically are “carefully scripted” bothers me because OF COURSE they are. As far as actresses are concerned, all of their red carpet looks are carefully scripted. The next question is “What is Lena Dunham saying with that scripted look?”

      And though I can speak with no actual authority on this subject, I think people are reading more into what her clothes are saying than what she wants to say by virtue of her being a “larger than normal for an actress size.” Anytime she gets dressed up I think people think she’s making a statement, but her statement might be “I like this dress and how it feels and how it looks,” as evidenced by a quote in that article.

      It bothers me that her body and her clothing choices are being called out as some sort of political statement because if she is making a statement, she’s not trying hard enough (see Matt Stone and Trey Parker at the Oscars or Lady Gaga) to make it apparent, so all I see when I read these articles or hear people talking about her is: “Anyone who is Lena Dunham’s size shouldn’t wear loud clothing, but she does — she’s so subversive for continuing to be that size!” It puts too much emphasis on her body.

      That being said, she’s welcome to wear what she wants…although I didn’t think that skirt and top was flattering on her and looked a bit too casual for the Emmys (but I can TOTALLY see the appeal of wanting to wear it because…so pretty!)

      TL;DR – The article was bland; bothers me that people think Lena Dunham is making a statement based on the fact that she’s a size 8 (ecclectic style is always secondary in these stories — her body is discussed first).

  • Fiona

    This is perfection! You rock Meg

  • Um, this was the best thing ever. I can’t even deal. I LOVED the Emmy’s this year and get so sad at the end of the night when the show is over…so this helped carry on the party. Ok, thank you!! perfect friday!!!

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