Tina Fey arrived on the Late Show with David Letterman last Thursday night wearing a lovely, dark blue cocktail dress, but she she didn’t keep it on for long.
Comedian, writer, actress, producer and all around inspiring woman, Tina Fey had been a guest on The Late Show an impressive twenty times.
This time, she told David, “I realized this is it. I’m never going to wear a fancy dress on a talk show again.”
She went on to describe the process of dressing up for television as, “very hard work,” and the undergarments required as, “almost medical,” concluding, “I dress up like this out of respect for you. I really do… and this is it, because what am I going to do, put a dress on for Jimmy? That’s creepy, he’s like my brother…”
Telling Letterman, “I want to give the dress to you” as a parting gift and memento of her “last time conforming to gender norms,” Fey stripped down to her undergarments, where the words “Bye Dave!” and “#LastDressEver” were written.
You can watch the full scene in all its hilarity here:
Now, I like dresses and heels, but on my own terms.
What Tina Fey has done isn’t only entertaining and bold, it’s a decisive blow to the gender norms upheld by network television.
Why should women be expected to dress a certain way if they stand in the public eye? The obvious answer, of course, is that they shouldn’t.
And yet, how often do we see female politicians evaluated on the cut of their dress rather than the depth of their words? When’s the last time someone bothered to care about a male politician’s choice of suit or tie? The same goes for female celebrities, who often have intelligent, meaningful ideas to share, but whom the media portrays largely as style icons and gossip sources.
Yes, the #LastDressEver scene was a fun bit of comedy, but I see it as something more, too. It challenges media (and particularly television) propagation of gender norms in the best, most effective of ways: with laughter.
If Tina Fey doesn’t want to dress up for talk show appearances, why should she? The fact that these expectations are so entrenched in 2015 is the only thing that should worry us.
Let’s dress up for ourselves, if that’s what we want. But enough of dressing up to please society.
Thank you, Tina Fey, for this witty reminder.
Author: Toby Israel
Editor: Renee Jahnke