depression / Pop Culture

The Unappealing Actress’ Dilemma



It took an odd person to come up with the term “backhanded compliment.” I say that person must’ve been “odd” because in order for that particular person to come up with that term, he or she would’ve been told at some point that he or she was, perhaps, “unattractive but personable,” “dowdy but clever,” “beautiful but supremely annoying,” “happy but way too much of the time,” “cruelly kind,” “adorable in that E.T. kind of way,” and so forth.

Perhaps “unique” is a better term to use instead of “odd.” It certainly makes for a sense of individuality. However, when there’s that blatant “flaw” indicated, the compliment becomes a hot slap to the face, a deft kick to the groin, a sharp pull of the hair, a big “ha-ha-lookit-YOU-nyah-nyah”! It becomes “backhanded” — a cruel way for the one dishing out the “compliment” to seem just and reasonable and oh-so very “complimentary.”

But I don’t think so.

I get backhanded compliments a lot of the time, and, a lot of the time, I don’t know how to take them. I do know that I don’t like them.

For example, I once received an email audition notice a long time ago (back when I was doing that pretend-I-am-a-performer timesuck sort of thing) from a friend of a friend of mine. The two of them are performers, moreso than I ever was, and knew I enjoyed acting when I was bored and had nothing better to do with my time. It was a hobby. Again, a total timesucky hobby.

Anyway, this, essentially, was the character the audition notice was for…




Female, 30’s-40’s, Caucasian. She has a character quality to her. She is a Drive-Thru Server at fast food joint.

This was not her life’s ambition and she doesn’t care if you know it. She isn’t obese but she isn’t in shape either.

She is plain and wears little or no make-up.

 RACHEL DRATCH (SNL) would be a good reference.



It was nice that someone had me in mind for the audition as it indicated she believed I might’ve been talented enough to pull that off. However, it was not so kind in that the person the casting scouts were looking for had to be physically unappealing. Unattractive, in other words.

I don’t have a thick skin, and that’s why acting was, once, no more than a hobby for me. To know that this is what people saw when they watched me perform makes me cringe. I have “character quality”… meaning interesting…meaning ugly.

As a performer back then, I was flattered.

As a woman though, I wanted to reach into my computer and land a sucker punch to the person who passed this on to me. This happened routinely, and, honestly, it got old. Too old even for me.

My self-esteem ain’t got time for that.











3 thoughts on “The Unappealing Actress’ Dilemma

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Why, Thank You? | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

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