The following post originally appeared on Heather Matarazzo’s blog and is cross-posted with permission of the author.
Seriously, what the fuck is “fuckable”? I don’t know if I can answer that question for you, but I can share my own experience.
When I was 19 or so, I was standing in a Starbucks in West Hollywood with a director, talking about the upcoming film we were about to shoot. It had been a long road, but we had finally made it. Waiting for our coffee, I could see that he seemed a bit uneasy. I asked him if everything was okay. He said yes. I didn’t believe him, so I asked him again. He looked at me and said, “Heather, I’m sorry, we have to give your role to another actor. The producers don’t want you.” I didn’t understand. I had been attached to this project for two years, and now two weeks before filming, I’m being let go. I asked him why. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “They say you’re not fuckable.” Well, fuck me. Even as I write this, I can still feel the pain, shame, and humiliation that came over me in that moment. This was a part that I had been so excited to play. She was bold, witty, sarcastic, sexy, but most importantly, she had a deeper vulnerability underneath. She had layers, she was complex.
I don’t really remember what happened moments later, except for a few words from the director like “sorry,” “Investors,” and “love you.” Later that day, he said, ” I still want you to do this movie. We have another part for you that we think you’d be great for. Right now it’s small, but I’ll make it bigger, so it’s worth your while.” What does a girl do? Do you say yes, okay, because the script is amazing, and great people are attached, or do you say, go fuck yourself, fuck no, because I have my pride, and thanks for wasting the last two years of my life?
I said yes. It was difficult, but I did it because I loved the script and the people who were on the project. What I didn’t love was the politics, and what would be my first real taste of what gross fucks financers can be. And no, they are not real producers. Scott Rudin, Christine Vachon, Jane Rosenthal, those are producers. There is a difference.
You don’t really know what moments are going to help shape who you are going to become. I didn’t know then just how damaging those words would be. Three words. “You’re not fuckable.”
Other words I attached to “You’re not fuckable” were ugly, loser, failure, DISGUSTING. That was the biggest word. It made me feel as though people wondered why I should even be taking up space. “Who the fuck are you to be taking up space on this planet, you unfuckable fucking fuck?”
I carried this with me into my late 20s. Along with that, I had continual conformation that I was indeed not “fuckable” based on the fact that the phone wasn’t ringing very often, and that my agents at the time were only sending me roles for “Plain Janes” or “very large women.” Mind you, I’m 5’4 and weigh 120. And as I write this, I also have the thought, I want to eat some pizza.
Oprah talks about how all we want is to be seen. Well, I didn’t think my agents were seeing me, I didn’t think casting directors were seeing me, and I began to truly wonder, Am I NOT seeing me? Am I ugly? Am I this unfuckable, gross, disgusting creature who should only be cast as the fat girl or the freak? But then I realized something. Of course they were seeing me, because that’s exactly how I saw myself. That’s how I saw myself from the time I was 11, around the time I did “Welcome to the Dollhouse.” Until then, the definitions of beauty hadn’t registered in my brain. I just knew it when I saw it, usually when I had a crush. After “Dollhouse” came out, I read the reviews. I was asked a lot of questions by reporters, such as, “How does it feel to play the ugly duckling?” “How does it feel to play someone so unattractive?” and in my little 13-year-old head, all I heard was, How does it feel to BE ugly? So it was that much more devastating when it was confirmed yet again, by someone whom I respected, who I thought saw me, saw my beauty, saw my sexiness, saw my power, saw my capability.
Truthfully, I feel that all women go through this, especially actors. Will we be seen?
For me, I had to stop sitting shiva, remove the blanket from my mirror, and look. I had to look at my gorgeous face, with my piercing blue eyes, my pouty lips, small chin, slightly crooked nose, full teeth, and smile. I had to really look at myself and see my beauty, and once I could accept the harsh reality that I was indeed, not only fuckable, but fucking beautiful, everything started to change. The roles I started to get called in for were women who were ” beautiful, confident, secure,” they were complex, they had bite, they had depth.
So I am grateful that I got to have that experience. I’m grateful to all of the people, whether they are producers, casting directors, agents, or investors who said, “Nope, she’s not fuckable, she’s talented, we love her, but she’s not fuckable,” Because, I am. I am fuckable. And no, you can’t fuck me. I’m taken.
Heather Matarazzo made her film debut playing the lead role in “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and has amassed over 40 credits in her two decades as an actress.