"Has anyone ever told you that you look like someone famous?"
May 22, 2015 9:30 AM   Subscribe

When a celebrity resemblance is an affliction, not an attribute. A woman writes about being frequently told that she looks like Sandra Bernhard.

"Several times a year in the past 20 years, sometimes as often as a few times a month, I have been told I look like the same famous person. No matter if my hair is long short, brown or blond, and no matter how I’m dressed or made up, strangers and new acquaintances tell me I look like someone famous. It’s always the same woman."
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek (122 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
This affliction extends to other things too, notably names. I know a guy with the last name "Frankenstein" and another with "Licorice". People just don't seem to realize that these guys have heard all the jokes, puns, and innuendos a thousand times over already.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:41 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I will always love Sandra Bernhard for this.

(Also for Hudson Hawk.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:41 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


One wonders if Jennifer Villamere quite realizes that she's writing a long, rather nasty piece on the internet about how hideously ugly she thinks Sandra Bernhard is?
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on May 22, 2015 [93 favorites]


I confused Sandra Bernhard for Sarah Bernhardt and wondered how many people would make this connection.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:46 AM on May 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


I wish it were feasible to run stats on these sorts of things. I'd bet that someone who looks like Sandra Bernhard gets way more comments than someone who looks like Sandra Bullock — or at least that a larger percentage of people who see a resemblance to Bernhard would think to mention it to the person. If it's an obscure celebrity you can at least manage to convince yourself that you're making an astute observation that the rest of the world hasn't yet noticed.

I want this to be true because I do honestly hope that most people have the bare minimum of empathy for their fellow human beings and will imagine the world through someone else's shoes for at least three seconds before they blurt out something like "Wow, is your name really Michael Bolton? Any relation to…"
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:46 AM on May 22, 2015


For what it's worth, I dated someone who had strangers tell her all the time she looked like Sandra Bullock, but I never saw the resemblance.
posted by peeedro at 9:48 AM on May 22, 2015


This affliction extends to other things too, notably names. I know a guy with the last name "Frankenstein" and another with "Licorice". People just don't seem to realize that these guys have heard all the jokes, puns, and innuendos a thousand times over already.

Tongues will wag at any departure from the ordinary. A friend of mine was born on December 25. This is Christmas Day, to go by what every goddamn person who has seen her ID for the last half-century tells her.

And I mentioned on the blue once before that while working retail I once sold something to a Mr. Paul McCartney of Toronto (who, to judge by his age, would have been in primary school when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show so it was not a case of Beatlemaniac parents saddling him with this). I remarked only that he must have to endure a lot of tired jokes. He allowed that he did, then thoughtfully added that the biggest single obstacle was an inability to make restaurant reservations. "People assume it is a prank, as there is no way someone as famous as Paul McCartney would ever come to our restaurant. So now I do them as Ringo Starr."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2015 [54 favorites]


I, for one, think EVERYONE is beautiful in their own way. Any one who thinks otherwise, suffers from a condition I like to call "Ugly Brain."
posted by rankfreudlite at 9:52 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


It really can be a curse.
posted by kenko at 9:53 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Self-worth and attractiveness and all that is a very personal thing, and I guess I appreciate somebody being upfront about their own feelings. But honestly, it's hard for me to take the opinion of somebody who isn't all up in love with Sandra Bernhard seriously.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:54 AM on May 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


Eh,

"I have to turn to the Internet because I can’t turn to my husband and say: “Lots of people think your wife is ugly.”"

"I had the dumb courage to ask him why he thought he could just slay me with an insult like that"

and

"I have realized that, sometimes, I was more hurt that people had the nerve to casually criticize my face right to my face."

So she doesn't realize that people say that she looks like Sarah Bernhard because she looks like Sarah Bernhard? Why does she automatically seem to assume that people are using that to say that she's ugly? She's not ugly. She just looks kinda like Sarah Bernhard. Weird article.
posted by I-baLL at 9:54 AM on May 22, 2015 [19 favorites]


Sandra Bernhardt, ugly? This is news to me.
Just yesterday a client asked me "Did anyone ever tell you you look like a famous actor?"
"No."
"You know who you look like?"
"Danny Devito?" (I'm tall, blonde.)
"No."
"Geena Davis?" (I'm a guy)
"No. I thought you'd know."
"Must be Lassie, then."
posted by Floydd at 9:54 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, can I ever relate to this.

Famous people I've been told I resemble include Sean Penn, Bono, Geddy Lee, Ralph Fiennes, and Julian Lennon. I can't help but look it at as a backhanded way for people to remind me that I have a big nose.
posted by The Gooch at 9:55 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


When Girls was just hitting the scene and my hair was shorter, I constantly got "you totally look like Lena Dunham! ...Um, but, I mean, uh, prettier?"

Thanks. Thanks a lot.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:55 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Years ago, people would frequently tell me I was a dead ringer for Vincent D'Onofrio. Then he old and fat and people stopped saying that to me. I may have begun a diet regimen and started dyeing my hair when people started saying that again.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:57 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


During college, I got a number of names, on a super-regular basis. David Cross (I can kind of see it), David Spade (neither can nor want to see it) William H.Macy/Steve Buscemi ("My Man from Fargo!" as the security guards at the Lafayette Dorm would always yell whenever I visited) and, more than any other, Prince.

Basically, I no longer have any idea what I look like.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:59 AM on May 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I remarked only that he must have to endure a lot of tired jokes.

This is totally the smart sympathetic person choice; sometimes I'm taken aback by a resemblance or name and I feel much better saying "You must get really sick of [thing], huh?" rather than "Oh wow you look just like/have the same name as/were born on...[whatever thing]". I sometimes get an appreciative response instead of a horrifying glare!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:01 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Self-worth and attractiveness and all that is a very personal thing, and I guess I appreciate somebody being upfront about their own feelings. But honestly, it's hard for me to take the opinion of somebody who isn't all up in love with Sandra Bernhard seriously.

But these people aren't saying "you are so funny, just like Sandra Bernhard!"

It's not as simple as "Sandra Bernhard is ugly full stop" but yes, she has unusual features that many people would prefer not to have drawn attention to on their own bodies if they are already self-conscious about them. Saying "hey has anyone ever told you you have a really big nose" is totally socially unacceptable, but when you're comparing someone to a celeb it's somehow ok, and that's weird.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anyone who hasn't seen "The King of Comedy" is lacking the full context when appreciating Ms. Bernhard.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


But young Vincent D'Onofrio was dreamy!

I got Renee Zellweger for years (when I was thinner), especially during the Bridget Jones/Chicago era. We have hooded eyes and a similar face shape and lots of similar mannerisms/vocal patterns... And I thought that was great until lots of people said she was ugly: Random people on the internet being absolutely brutal about her smile and the shape of her eyes. It's mean.

Personally, I think she's fabulous. I was sad when she changed her face and now she looks a lot less like me.
posted by mochapickle at 10:08 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have realized that, sometimes, I was more hurt that people had the nerve to casually criticize my face right to my face. I can handle being not pretty. It’s no surprise to hear I’m not Christie Brinkley. But it can be shocking as an adult to be nonchalantly insulted.

What’s likely, or at least what I have now actually resolved as a way of coping, is that people don’t mean it as an insult. People just blurt it out and think nothing of it.


Not only did they not mean it as an insult, but it seems like no one except this author even thinks it possibly could be an insult. I love Sandra Bernhard, and I'm delighted when she shows up in anything. This woman's self-loathing has led her to believe that Sandra Bernhard is objectively ugly, but it simply isn't true. I feel sad that she is so wounded by perceived barbs that were most likely intended as compliments.

(I am not doubting that some people have said truly awful things to her about her appearance, because she's a woman, but she has conflated "observation" with "insult" in a very strange way.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:09 AM on May 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


Back in the late 90s/early 2000s, I pretty reliably got Julia Roberts. I feel the author because the Julia Roberts comments were not particularly helpful for an adolescent who was already concerned about the size of her mouth. It's been shifting lately to "That girl from Mad Men", i.e., Elizabeth Moss, which I like much better.

I have friend who always gets told by people she looks like Kitty/Judy Greer (and I will cop to being one of them), and I can't imagine being told you look like a character who keeps ripping her top off is particularly fun.
posted by damayanti at 10:09 AM on May 22, 2015


Just because a person shares some distinctive feature/s or rough configuration of features, and/or a facial shape in common with a celebrity, it doesn't mean they share the same overall quality, which is what mainly drives "prettiness" or "ugliness" imo.

(I've been compared to the same 3-4 celebrities for years, and now a new one whose work I'm not familiar with. There's a family resemblance between them, but people pick up on different features. Sometimes it's even just colouring + hairstyle + eyebrows + face shape (because I only get Audrey Hepburn when I have a pixie cut, I know she's got nothing to do with me otherwise).

Sandra Bernhard has a sensual, striking, communicative face, and I love her attitude, what the hell. If the author feels ugly, there are probably good reasons for it that have nothing to do with Sandra Bernhard.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


But young Vincent D'Onofrio was dreamy!


I never minded being told I looked like younger D'Onofrio, or even early middle-aged D'Onofrio. But when I was told I looked like latter-run Criminal Minds D'Onofrio, I seriously re-evaluated my personal care. And if someone tells me I look like Daredevil-era D'Onofrio, I may go into hiding. (Sorry, Vince.)

For reference, when that "change your FB profile pic to your celebrity lookalike!" trend went around, I changed my pic to this and my own mother thought that was really a picture of me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not as simple as "Sandra Bernhard is ugly full stop" but yes, she has unusual features that many people would prefer not to have drawn attention to on their own bodies if they are already self-conscious about them. Saying "hey has anyone ever told you you have a really big nose" is totally socially unacceptable, but when you're comparing someone to a celeb it's somehow ok, and that's weird.

This is wrong on all kinds of levels. For one thing, it has simply never occurred to me to think that Sandra Bernhard was ugly. If I told someone they looked like Sandra Bernhard I'd think it entirely complimentary. Assuming that it means "oh, your face has exactly the features I would criticize as ugly on this famous person" is just absurd.

Secondly, resemblance is a very complicated business. To say that "you look like so-and-so" is not to say "you are in every way identical to so-and-so." Think how often you look at a famously beautiful film star's brother or sister and think "huh, I see the resemblance, but the star is clearly stunningly beautiful and the brother/sister is pretty ordinary." If the ordinary one was famous for some reason and you told their beautiful brother/sister "hey, you look like that famous ordinary-looking person" you wouldn't be saying "you're ordinary looking." You'd be referring to that somewhat arbitrary and complex collection of visual triggers that goes into building up our sense of someone's visual "identity."

So the comment "you look like an attractive version of so-and-so" is a perfectly sensible thing to say, for example. And while it would not be nice to say to someone "you look like an unattractive version of X-famous-beautiful-person" it would also be a perfectly comprehensible comment.

The author of the piece in the FPP just needs to deal with the fact that she bears a strong facial resemblance to Sandra Bernhard and that the people remarking on that are not finding some subtle coded way of telling her she's ugly.

And she needs to think long and hard about why she thinks it's o.k. for her to bang on and on and on in public about how revoltingly ugly she things Sarah Bernhard is.
posted by yoink at 10:14 AM on May 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


I, too, completely missed the "Sandra Bernhard is ugly" memo. If I met this woman and said "Oh, hey, you kind of look like Sandra Berhnard" it wouldn't be meant as an insult at all. "Hey, you remind me of that really talented, funny celebrity" is not how I would tell someone they are ugly.

Not that I tell people they are ugly, anyway.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:17 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


So the comment "you look like an attractive version of so-and-so" is a perfectly sensible thing to say, for example. And while it would not be nice to say to someone "you look like an unattractive version of X-famous-beautiful-person" it would also be a perfectly comprehensible comment.

Exactly, just reminding someone of somebody doesn't mean anything about their evaluation of that resemblance.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2015


My gran told me there was a girl on the TV that looked like me. She was really excited. Then one day she sent me a newspaper clipping with a note attached: This is the girl. She'll all over the news. Everybody here remarks how much she looks like you.

Monica Lewinsky. That was an interesting year.
posted by kariebookish at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


I changed my pic to this and my own mother thought that was really a picture of me.

Yeah, he's still dreamy there, and edging in on Mark Ruffalo territory. D'Onofrio's terrific.

I get Kristin Schaal a lot lately and I love her, too. I was hurt when commenters on news articles about Last Man on Earth said mean things about her looks.
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


If the author feels ugly, there are probably good reasons for it that have nothing to do with Sandra Bernhard.

And I mentioned that, because I don't mean to discount her own experiences.

But she says that she goes on the internet and reads trolls on the internet talking about Sandra Bernhard being ugly, and takes that to mean that she, the author, by transitive property, is also ugly. That is just some really messed up logic.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think Sandra Bernhard is pretty, I totally had a crush on her at one point in my life, but whatever. No matter what, it's a rude article.

I've had people tell me I look like Leonardo DiCaprio, which makes no sense to me at all, but it's fine I guess. Do people look at others and try to figure out what celebrity they look like? 'Cause I don't remember ever thinking someone looked like a celebrity.
posted by Huck500 at 10:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The author of the piece in the FPP just needs to deal with the fact that she bears a strong facial resemblance to Sandra Bernhard and that the people remarking on that are not finding some subtle coded way of telling her she's ugly.

I'm not saying anyone intends to insult her. But like... say your entire life, you've been really self-conscious about your big chin. Big chins aren't necessarily unattractive at all, just, you just don't like having attention constantly drawn to it.

No one would ever say "lol you ever notice how big your chin is? Hell of a chin on you!" because that's rude. But it's perfectly fine, for some reason, to say "you look just like that celebrity, the one who is known for having a big chin!"

It's rude to comment on peoples' appearances. But for some reason "you look like [person]" is the exception?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Back just after the St. Elsewhere TV show era, I was approached on a street in my home town and was asked by three giggling teenage girls if I was Ed Begley, Jr. I said no (an answer they obviously anticipated), and then said "but I AM his twin brother, Greg. Greg Begley Jr."
That was an answer they hadn't anticipated, and I think the oddity of it confused them enough that they had me sign autographs for each, as Greg Begley Jr.
posted by annekenstein at 10:24 AM on May 22, 2015 [37 favorites]


mochapickle, I get Kristen Schaal all the time, but it's regarding my voice. I even waited on her once and her husband said the same thing.
posted by [tk] at 10:28 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm sure, if she looked hard enough, she could find the internet saying horrible hypercritical things about Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian's looks too! That's the thing about internet trolls, they are very egalitarian in their contempt for women and their presumed right to judge them.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:29 AM on May 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


Back just after the St. Elsewhere TV show era, I was approached on a street in my home town and was asked by three giggling teenage girls if I was Ed Begley, Jr. I said no (an answer they obviously anticipated), and then said "but I AM his twin brother, Greg. Greg Begley Jr."
That was an answer they hadn't anticipated, and I think the oddity of it confused them enough that they had me sign autographs for each, as Greg Begley Jr.


The best part of that story is that they apparently gave no second thought that twins would be named [different first names] Begley, Jr. ... as though "Begley, Jr." was in fact simply a surname.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:30 AM on May 22, 2015 [32 favorites]


Secondly, resemblance is a very complicated business. To say that "you look like so-and-so" is not to say "you are in every way identical to so-and-so." Think how often you look at a famously beautiful film star's brother or sister and think "huh, I see the resemblance, but the star is clearly stunningly beautiful and the brother/sister is pretty ordinary." If the ordinary one was famous for some reason and you told their beautiful brother/sister "hey, you look like that famous ordinary-looking person" you wouldn't be saying "you're ordinary looking." You'd be referring to that somewhat arbitrary and complex collection of visual triggers that goes into building up our sense of someone's visual "identity."

Exactly. Living in Houston during '94 as a geeky, comedy obsessed Rockets fan, I remember noticing how, to me, Hakeem Olajuwon looked a hell of a lot like (young) Norm MacDonald in a lot of his pictures. That's a hard one to get people without my exact way of processing faces to recognize.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was "a young Jerry Lewis", but now I'm a "young Jamie Lee Curtis."
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2015


This lady thinks she's got problems? I spent a long period of my life being told I look like Tom Greene and Dave Grohl.
posted by jonmc at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2015


One of the unexpectedly interesting things about being bald with a shaved head is that people seem to think I resemble any number of bald celebrities . It's sort of the opposite of the issue faced by the author. When I had hair, no one told me I looked like anyone famous. Now, I'm just an ordinary-looking middle-aged white male with a reasonably well-shaped head. I have no complaints about being told I resemble Stanley Tucci, Mitch Pileggi, or Telly Savalas - all of which I've heard and each of which I consider quite flattering, if rather inaccurate - but getting compared to a muscular action movie star like Jason Statham or Vin Diesel can be a little strange. All of those men look quite different from each other, and from me! Ultimately, I guess it's like a Rorschach test: I can make a decent guess how a person feels about me based on the bald celebrity I'm told I resemble.
posted by cheapskatebay at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "nd if someone tells me I look like Daredevil-era D'Onofrio, I may go into hiding. (Sorry, Vince.)"

I was recently told I looked like Daredevil-D'Onofrio, "but more handsome". I took that as a huge compliment, I think he looks good (and sharply dressed, too) in that show.

Also, Sandra Bernhard is attractive.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:36 AM on May 22, 2015


Do people look at others and try to figure out what celebrity they look like? 'Cause I don't remember ever thinking someone looked like a celebrity.

This is the part I don't get either. People must be doing this because the number of times someone tells my wife or me she looks like Audrey Hepburn HAS to be fewer than the times people think that. I guess I kinda see it but she has spiky red hair and green eyes, so it's not so close. But why do people do this? Where is it supposed to go from there? There is never any sort of follow up except for uncomfortable pauses.

So I get her annoyance with being told constantly she looks like Sandra Bernhard but I agree with what others are saying above that there' something else going on that makes her think it's such a horrible insult. Even when she got the response of “What are you talking about? She’s sexy,” he said. “It’s a compliment! She’s so sexy!” she focused on the word sexy and then said "Why do I even care any more?" She wasn't willing to think that this person didn't mean it as an insult.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2015


But like... say your entire life, you've been really self-conscious about your big chin. Big chins aren't necessarily unattractive at all, just, you just don't like having attention constantly drawn to it.

No one would ever say "lol you ever notice how big your chin is? Hell of a chin on you!" because that's rude. But it's perfectly fine, for some reason, to say "you look just like that celebrity, the one who is known for having a big chin!"


But if I meet someone and I think that person is beautiful BECAUSE of her strong chin, then comparing her to a strong-chinned celeb is an attempt to compliment. I am often shocked at the features people hate about themselves, because I usually find those features to be either unnoticeable or lovely.

There was a recent photography project (can't find the link, sadly) where the photographer displayed three images of each subject. One was a regular portrait, and the other two were two different parts of that person's body. The back of the head, or the knees, or an eyebrow. Each subject told the photographer "this is my favorite body part, and this is my most hated and hideous body part," and the artist took a picture of both.

But the artist did not label them as favorite or worst, so you are supposed to look at them and guess. And in every case, it is unguessable, because no one outside of that person's mind can possibly know what that person thinks is ugly about their body.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I posted this because I can relate to the author: I am frequently told that I look like Will Ferrell. (We're even roughly the same height.) It could be worse, I suppose.

One time, I was sitting on a patio when someone who had had a few adult beverages asked to have their picture taken with me because it was their birthday and I looked so much like Will Ferrell. So I am in some random stranger's Facebook album, attempting a smile, and presumably looking Ferrell-like. Hey, it's all part of life's rich pageant.

Interestingly enough, I've never been told that I look like Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, even though he and Will Ferrell are dead ringers for one another.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 10:42 AM on May 22, 2015


I got Bobby Flay once. I'll take it.
posted by MOWOG at 10:43 AM on May 22, 2015


There was a time where I got Shannon Doherty a lot. This was during 90210 heyday. I never saw it but I think it was the haircut I had. It wasn't uncommon for strangers to comment.

I also got Xena/ Lucy Lawless quite a lot. That was pretty cool cause I like Xena. At a staff party one year a group of us dressed up with a 'barbarian' theme. Of course I had to do Xena. At one point during the evening I had to walk through the village (ski resort) and had random people following me chanting 'Xena, Xena, Xena'. Totally weird but awesomely hilarious.

Guess I grew out of it as I haven't had this happen in years. Oh well. It was funny while it lasted.
posted by Jalliah at 10:47 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


yoink "...she needs to think long and hard about why she thinks it's o.k. for her to bang on and on and on in public about how revoltingly ugly she things Sarah Bernhard is."

To be scrupulously fair to the author (and personally I feel this last paragraph says too little and comes far too late), this is how she ends her piece:


There are other things I’ve learned in my online research on Sandra Bernhard: I’ve read she has an insurgent’s energy to push boundaries, she’s a smart provocateur and an artist, author, actor and singer whose successful career has spanned more than 30 years. She’s on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest standup comedians of all time. She’s strong and forthright. She’s funny and honest. Why wouldn’t I want to see someone like that in my mirror?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:47 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The best part of that story is that they apparently gave no second thought that twins would be named [different first names] Begley, Jr. ... as though "Begley, Jr." was in fact simply a surname.

The Begley twins have two dads, you homophobe.
posted by straight at 10:52 AM on May 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


This article is full of all kinds of internalized misogyny and made me feel bad for her, but this: I have to turn to the Internet because I can’t turn to my husband and say: “Lots of people think your wife is ugly.” It’s an insult to him. A woman's value to her husband is her looks. What an awful sentiment.
posted by Mavri at 10:56 AM on May 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


> And I mentioned that, because I don't mean to discount her own experiences.

Oh, I was thinking it might be down to pettiness (or ok, some kind of dysmorphia. But her perspective here suggests the former).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:57 AM on May 22, 2015


Why on earth did the G&M publish such a horrid personal essay? Not only does it go on and on in the most sexist way (ranking her Playboy cover? Really?) - but it also includes a casual throwaway line that was so transphobic it brought tears to my eyes. The author is ugly, but not in the way she thinks. Her attempt at a powerful concluding paragraph does not work
posted by biggreenplant at 10:57 AM on May 22, 2015 [16 favorites]


I have to turn to the Internet because I can’t turn to my husband and say: “Lots of people think your wife is ugly.” It’s an insult to him.

Why is this an insult to her husband?

Actually none of this article makes sense to me, but that bit is just extra ick.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I dated someone who had strangers tell her all the time she looked like Sandra Bullock, but I never saw the resemblance.

peeedro, are you my past life? Because this is me now.

Then again, I've also dated an Audrey Hepburn dead-ringer, and my undergrad girlfriend looked so much like Natalie Dormer that when the latter showed up on TV I'd wondered if my ex got into acting. So maybe it's just a trend.

for what it's worth, I look nothing like anybody famous, but I have doppelgangers literally worldwide
posted by a halcyon day at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2015


I have doppelgangers literally worldwide

Me too, I seem to remind a lot of people of their cousins (?).
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:03 AM on May 22, 2015


I remember noticing how, to me, Hakeem Olajuwon looked a hell of a lot like (young) Norm MacDonald in a lot of his pictures. That's a hard one to get people without my exact way of processing faces to recognize.

I feel you on this. I've tried countless times to convince people that Charles Oakley is a dead ringer for Burt Reynolds, but to no avail.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why on earth did the G&M publish such a horrid personal essay?
Facts & Arguments is a daily personal piece submitted by readers.
Facts & Arguments has been running five essays a week since, I think, 1989 or 1990. That is closing in on 7000 pieces now. I have been reading them pretty regularly for most of my life: some are heartbreaking, some are illuminating, many are indifferent, and some are examples of giving someone enough rope. They will not all speak to everyone.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I understand what Facts and Arguments is about. I have subscribed to the G&M off and on for twenty years... Weak writing is one thing but sexist transphobic commentary has no place in any part of our "national newspaper"
posted by biggreenplant at 11:16 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It doesn't happen all the time, but there have been more than a couple people who have said I bear a resemblance to Kevin Smith. I get it, I'm a big chubby guy with a dark beard. I'm not offended, even though Kevin does (usually) outweigh me by a considerable margin. It's an artifact of human pattern-matching tendencies.
posted by chimaera at 11:20 AM on May 22, 2015


When I was younger, every woman over the age of 60 (but only women over the age of 60) thought that I looked exactly like a young Tim Robbins. I was never sure what to make of it.

About a decade ago, people would constantly tell my then-girlfriend (who was the child of a black/white interracial couple) that she looked like Alicia Keys. She looked nothing like Alicia Keys. Numerous mixed-race female friends that I've had since then have confirmed that this was just something that they all went through at the time.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I changed my Facebook profile pic this morning. I have a short beard, and I guess kind of a quizzical expression on my face in the new pic. Literally the first comment was an old friend saying "Ricky Gervais!".

I spent some time unpacking why that made me feel so crummy. I came to the conclusion that my mental image of RG was the chubby, smug twit from the Office, and that certainly did not match my mental image of myself. He then posted a picture in the comments of present-day RG, with the beard, and the not-so-chubby and so on, and I was able to say "Yeah, there is a superficial resemblance I guess.". I counter-posted this, and have felt much better since.
posted by joelhunt at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some people think Sandra Bernhard is beautiful, for starters.

Most of the "Sandra Bernhard, despite being thin and having a conventionally attractive body, good skin, good hair and a wide, full-lipped mouth is actually ugly" business is about homophobia and fucked up racial double-binds around how we as a society read/rate large mouths - which are something highly desirable on some women some of the time, but which are then put down on other women at other times.

Essay author should see a therapist.

Frankly, no normal individual would rate me even half as good-looking as SB even on my best day....and it feels bizarre to me that this women is getting all "I am so ugly that I look like a woman who was after all on the cover of Playboy, my life is a travesty and my husband must be unhappy."

No one ever says that I look like a celebrity, because gender-non-conforming short fat muscular people don't get to be celebrities. I look like zero celebrities.

I spent my twenties absolutely miserable about my appearance and I thank whatever gods there be that I have put that burden down.
posted by Frowner at 11:41 AM on May 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


I got John Hodgman a lot, pre-mustache. It didn't help that I worked at an Apple Store for two years while those commercials were running.

Here's how to look like John Hodgman:
  1. Brown hair, nicely cut, parted to one side.
  2. Glasses.
  3. Be a pudgy white guy.
Honestly, though, I don't mind being compared to Hodgman.
posted by gc at 11:44 AM on May 22, 2015


Todd Glass has a perfect joke about this:

"you're like a pig that got a facelift"
posted by basicchannel at 11:44 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I made the mistake once in college of telling an acquaintance he looked like a young John Malkovich (whom I think is attractive) and he threatened to punch me out, so I learned a bit about the eye of the beholder that day. But not enough to not tell a new coworker recently that she reminded me of Anna Kendrick, so my stupid mouth wins again I guess.

I remember noticing how, to me, Hakeem Olajuwon looked a hell of a lot like (young) Norm MacDonald in a lot of his pictures. That's a hard one to get people without my exact way of processing faces to recognize.

I felt the same way about Dustin Hoffman and Jackie Chan, so you're not alone.
posted by psoas at 11:45 AM on May 22, 2015


Then again, I've also dated an Audrey Hepburn dead-ringer, and my undergrad girlfriend looked so much like Natalie Dormer that when the latter showed up on TV I'd wondered if my ex got into acting. So maybe it's just a trend.

My college girlfriend looked enough like Kate Hudson (and this was at the peak of her fame) that we would get strangers taking random candid photos of us together fairly regularly.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:51 AM on May 22, 2015


I get Kristin Schaal a lot lately and I love her, too. I was hurt when commenters on news articles about Last Man on Earth said mean things about her looks.

Kristen Schaal is fucking sexy. People are dumb.

No one ever says that I look like a celebrity, because gender-non-conforming short fat muscular people don't get to be celebrities. I look like zero celebrities.

I was once told that I could be Murray Hill's brother. So I've got that going for me.
posted by Mothlight at 11:54 AM on May 22, 2015


One wonders if Jennifer Villamere quite realizes that she's writing a long, rather nasty piece on the internet about how hideously ugly she thinks Sandra Bernhard is?

I once told a friend she looked a lot like Natalie Dormer and she gave me the why have you insulted me to my face look after she googled it. I sincerely meant it as a compliment, because obviously, but this friend has features that are a bit out of the ordinary in both good and less conventially accepted ways and I suppose she caught the implied "you are both kinda of different looking!" over the "you both have stunning eyes and white blonde hair and somehow look conventionally attractive in spite of deviating from perfect symmetry and oh also project 100% confidence and badassery". I should have known better given the very clumsy things people have said to me that have hurt my feelings in the past.

You know what else sucks? "You look tired" (or sick, or whatever)
It doesn't matter how much this is intended to check in on someone, it is always shitty.

So yeah, I'm with this lady. I get it. I wish we could just all tell each other every day that we look badass and skip the miscommunication.
posted by skrozidile at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've gotten at least a few times each: Tatiana Maslany, Ingrid Michaelson, Kelly Clarkson. None of these people look the least bit alike, so I think people just glom onto one feature (mixed race-ness, glasses, eyes/smile?), in the order of people above) and make the connection.

I don't really think I look like anyone, except perhaps this ONE porn star, which, twice, has been brought up where people do that thing, "Hey, you kinda look like someone... she's... [they realize where they know her from] oh... nevermind."
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:05 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


(in college) You know, you remind me of Jennifer Jason Leigh! Not everyone sees it, but _I_ think she's actually quite attractive. (I am clueless, having no idea who Jennifer Jason Leigh is, and this shows in my facial expression -- the speaker thinks I am anti-Jennifer Jason Leigh, however) Really! No, really! She's attractive!
posted by amtho at 12:24 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thinking of the oddness of facial resemblance: a friend of mine with a terrific eye for detail once mentioned to me that Julia Roberts and Osama Bin Ladin had very similar faces. I responded pretty dismissively, and then he sent me a side-by-side of just their faces (no hair etc). It is uncanny. You'd swear they'd been separated at birth.
posted by yoink at 12:26 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I will always remember what a drunk theatre producer said to me:

"you look like a fat James MacAvoy"

So I got that going for me.
posted by The Whelk at 12:27 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


That was kind of weird. Sandra Bernhard is hot.
posted by latkes at 12:27 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I would win an Ira Glass lookalike contest, hands down.
posted by latkes at 12:30 PM on May 22, 2015


She's totally hot, this essay is just out there.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:31 PM on May 22, 2015


Okay, Whelk, the only celebrity I even vaguely resemble is a fat James McAvoy. (I have an irrational fondness for James McAvoy for this reason, despite being virtually entirely unfamiliar with his work.) Now the question is, is this a transitive property? Can I safely visit New York, or is it the sort of place that can only handle one fat James McAvoy per metropolis?

I mean, my sense is that Based On Photos I Have Seen Of The Whelk, that whole "fat" bit may have been a bit of negging. We can't all be as thin as people who are professionally thin, of course, but still.
posted by Frowner at 12:31 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hot/sexy and pretty/conventionally attractive aren't necessarily synonymous. Maybe that's where this disconnect is coming from. Sexiness comes largely from body language and personality, not just what the shape of your face is.

So yes, Sandra Bernhard is hot. She also has facial features that, when taken out of the context of her as a person, are not typically considered the most desirable in women in America in 2015. I'm not trying to be a dick here, but I think it's strange to fail to acknowledge that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:38 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


it also includes a casual throwaway line that was so transphobic it brought tears to my eyes.

Do you mean "gap-toothed tranny"? Because she's quoting that as an example of something mean to say. Those are not the author's thoughts.

Look, there's tons of transphobia in the world, and we should absolutely call it out, but I just don't think this is it.
posted by the_blizz at 12:39 PM on May 22, 2015


We can have a Professor X-style mind fight to determine the winner.
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on May 22, 2015


I first learned to stop commenting on people's appearances (because I am, if my thinky gears are not very well engaged, prone to saying awkward unfiltered shit) when, over a pretty short period of time, I dated two men who were 6'8". One was very thin, one was built like a linebacker. They heard a lot of shit. The bad jokes were the least insulting things they heard.

And some of it was awkward unfiltered shit, and some of it was legitimate microaggression or just plain aggression (often in some kind of threatened-masculinity context, particularly with the big guy - who was an artist, not a bouncer).

At this point, I'll tell a close friend I like what they're wearing or new hairdo or whatever, but that's about it. I'd rather talk about the weather if I have to.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:43 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because she's quoting that as an example of something mean to say. Those are not the author's thoughts.

Eh, I think it was quoted in such a way that she seems to accept it is a thing she does not want to look like. That's my whole problem with the article: It's all about her agreement with the idea that Sandra Bernhard is ugly, as if there was some Platonic Ideal of Ugliness.

She is unconventional looking but also she is Jewish looking and apparently to some people trans-looking and so the whole notion of an objective ugliness is both problematic period, problematically culturally biased, and reinforced in this article.

She doesn't conclude with like, "So I've come to broaden my definition of physical beauty" or "I've come to question who sets the standards for beauty" or something.... She never seems to let those standards get called into question.
posted by latkes at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Frankly - and I don't think anyone here is doing with regards to Sandra Bernhard specifically, but it's something I've noticed a lot in converations like these - so often, I see people doing body positivity as "you're pretty too! There are different ways to be pretty! Everyone is pretty!"

But to me, true body positivity means not trying to insist that everyone is 'pretty,' because it shouldn't matter if someone is pretty or not. That's the problem, the fact that it still matters, not the fact that everyone just hasn't realized how pretty they and everyone are else yet.

I always remember this thread from Ask - "I'm ugly, now what?" - and this reply:

"Poster, you've spilled your guts and people are invalidating you right and left, telling you you're not really ugly, and that your perception that looks matter greatly is wrong. I am angry on your behalf that this has largely been your response. You deserve honesty in return for an honest and straightforward post, not a bunch of feel-good wishful thinking."
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:45 PM on May 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Do you mean "gap-toothed tranny"? Because she's quoting that as an example of something mean to say. Those are not the author's thoughts.

Look, there's tons of transphobia in the world, and we should absolutely call it out, but I just don't think this is it.


She clearly agrees with the things she's quoting (the point of the whole essay is that SB is hideous and therefore people have been insulting the author for years), and specifically chose that one to use. It's pretty transphobic.
posted by Mavri at 12:46 PM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I find Sandra Bernhardt's face incredibly compelling and sensual and her body type extremely attractive and I think the author was really cruel to Berhardt in service of salvaging her own ego.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Complex, Blackbook, Zen College: Who has ever heard of these publications? No one, hopefully, because they are mercilessly mean. But I know of them because each time I am told I look like Sandra Bernhard, it sends me into a downward spiral of before-and-after rhinoplasty image searches and research into what Internet trolls think of my celebrity doppelganger’s face.

I think she is struggling with the world's perception of SB's looks and how cruel people can be. Because that IS a horrible thing to say and she is citing it as such. Even though she agrees that SB is ugly.
posted by the_blizz at 12:56 PM on May 22, 2015


So yes, Sandra Bernhard is hot. She also has facial features that, when taken out of the context of her as a person, are not typically considered the most desirable in women in America in 2015. I'm not trying to be a dick here, but I think it's strange to fail to acknowledge that.

Were you specifically alluding to Sandra Bernhard's nose, earlier? I do know what you mean about feeling awkward about a feature and having people relate you to a sleb known for that, I just don't think SB's known for any particular feature. No fooling, that really just isn't the thing I think of when I imagine her. There are people whose features stand out, but SB's face comes to me as a sort of sculptured, sandscapey gestalt.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:59 PM on May 22, 2015


I have a related but somewhat opposite affliction. Almost everyone I see I think is an obscure B actor. Like the extras you keep seeing who pop up in bit parts in crappy movies or sitcoms. Fortunately I'm not one prone to conspiratorial thinking so I don't really believe that all these people are bit actors who have been hired to play these parts ala Truman Show, but it is often an odd sensation.
posted by bfootdav at 1:00 PM on May 22, 2015


People used to tell me I looked like Tom Cruise. Which was awesome and helped with the ladies, until he jumped around on Oprah's couch and I had to grow a beard and gain weight and never mention his name or talk about his movies in public.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 1:11 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Lyn Never you have my eternal gratitude for being at least one person who thinks twice about making stupid comments about height. There are very few things I can do about being 6'7". Yes, I know that's tall and yes I've heard that one before.

and no I don't play or like basketball damnit! Why do you ask? Are you a jockey?
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:12 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only resemblance anyone has accused me of is to a local news anchor whose main claim to fame is appearing on David Letterman to state he had a gopher in his pocket. And this was by my ex-mother-in-law. On the other hand, I have an ex-brother-in-law who vaguely resembles a famous actor from years ago. BIL was strolling the Champs-Elysee a while back and ran into Bill Murray. Excitedly, he pointed his finger and said loudly, "Bill Murray!" Without missing a beat, Murray pointed back and shouted, "Gregory Peck!"
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


As a generic ugly person, I can only dream of the day when someone mistakes me for someone else.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I once bought a toilet at Home Depot from a black guy named Miles Davis. I had to say, "I bet I know the next question you always get asked," and he smiled ruefully.

Also, I nth that Sandra Bernhard is attractive. I bought her Playboy when it came out (as an embarrassed 20-year-old) and kept it for quite a while just for the cover photo. And the articles.
posted by bendy at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


She wasn't willing to think that this person didn't mean it as an insult.

When a man tells a woman they think she looks sexy, especially when the woman isn't thinking about anything sexual and doesn't want that guy thinking that of her, it's creepy and a conversation and guy you want to get away from ASAP.

It's not fun having guys you don't feel a sexual charge towards find you sexy. It's not a compliment. It's just weird. Women don't want to know you fap to someone who looks like you. We also don't care to be told who gives you a boner or who you think is fuckable or not fuckable. Those aren't compliments.
posted by discopolo at 2:47 PM on May 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


The best part of that story is that they apparently gave no second thought that twins would be named [different first names] Begley, Jr.

Duh, their Mom's name is Greg.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:18 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had five years of being compared to Alan Shearer, captain of England and Newcastle plodder. After ceasing with gym visits I had a few years of comparison with Ian Hislop. Now anonymity.
posted by biffa at 3:20 PM on May 22, 2015


When I was younger, and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers was popular I was occasionally told I looked very much like him. Interestingly enough I was never once told that by a man.

If Mrs. notreally was present said woman immediately went on her shit list.
posted by notreally at 3:28 PM on May 22, 2015


People absolutely have the propensity to say the most obvious thing that comes into their mind. I really think that's all there is to it.
I bear the name of a famous enterpreneur associated with candy and I am sick to death of "oh and are you just as sweet?"
And yet the first thing that came out of my mouth when a tall coworker mentioned her height was to ask her if she plays basketball. WHY? How dumb am I? (Luckily she is easygoing and we are now good friends.)

I think we do manage to avoid the worst kinds of things-not-to-say, like racial insults, because we have a blanket rule for not saying them in our heads. Which is why having a "don't comment on a person's body" rule is useful. For your own protection!
posted by Omnomnom at 3:33 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I look like anyone, it's Daria Morgendorffer. But nobody calls me out on that one, even when I dressed up as her one year. Helps to resemble a cartoon.

In all honesty, I probably wouldn't be thrilled to be told I looked like Sandra Bernhardt either. Somehow she always just looks snarling and mean, and her voice doesn't help any. My apologies to those who love her, but she just puts me off.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:55 PM on May 22, 2015


I had to say, "I bet I know the next question you always get asked," and he smiled ruefully.

Wait, bendy, what's the next question? How difficult was it to birth The Cool? Exactly how much blue is "Kind of"?
posted by a halcyon day at 4:09 PM on May 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


"I confused Sandra Bernhard for Sarah Bernhardt and wondered how many people would make this connection."

It's the fedora.
posted by klangklangston at 4:26 PM on May 22, 2015


Early into knowing manmillipede, we were at a restaurant and he commented that I looked like an actress he saw a picture of on some celebrity news site that day (just ask me why I continued to see him after he confessed he read celebrity news sites). I knew who it would be before he even said her name, because I had gotten it before, and as always there was a certain hesitation because she's one of those actresses that is generally-prettyish-but-a-little-weird-looking-somehow: Leelee Sobieski. I was a senior in high school when Eyes Wide Shut was out and I got so many "you look just like that creepy little girl in Eyes Wide Shut!" comments back then, and intermittent remarks in the years between, any time she showed up in something.

I think I've decided its okay though. What else is there to do? Would I prefer to look like Scarlett Johanssen? Yes. But it's not the worst. I don't really look that much like her, just something about the feature placement and the sharpness of the features and the coloring points to a resemblance. Usually even weird-looking famous people are better looking than non-famous people, so I'm not sure I agree with this lady that being told she looks like Sandra Bernhard is a insult. Sandra Bernhard is really specific looking, moreso than attractive or unattractive. She's not generic. That's probably why, if someone looks at all like her or someone else with a really specific, unique look, that people notice.
posted by millipede at 4:51 PM on May 22, 2015


In high school and college I used to get Belinda Carlisle (which was fine because I loved her and my hair was Mad About You bobbed at the time), Winona Ryder, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Don't recall anyone saying I look like any celebrity in a long time. I'm 150% sure it had to do with hairstylhairstyles/colors, though.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:59 PM on May 22, 2015


Sandra Bernhard was one of the first out, bisexual celebrities that I knew about in the '80's and she was just so goddamn cool about it and would talk about her life and experiences without explicitly using the word "bisexual" but talking about her various relationships in her monologues. And she was very funny in a way that I identified with in so many ways and I wish I still had her book Confessions of a Pretty Lady.

That she is considered unattractive, or even unconventionally attractive is just weird to me. She's modelled for Playboy, which is like as conventional as conventional can be.

The only celebrity I've ever been told I looked like was a basketball player for the Charlotte Hornets when I lived in Charlotte over 20 years ago. Kurt Rambis was his name. We looked exactly alike, except he is a good seven inches taller than I am. But, same haircut, same mustache. Same glasses. Dead ringers. I would be at the mall or whatever and someone would come up to me and be all like "Oh my God-it's Kurt Rambis! Can I have your autograph?' And I'd say "Yeah, for 20 bucks." And they'd get ticked off and walk away. So there might have been a rumor in Charlotte a couple of decades ago that Kurt Rambis is a total dick who charges for autographs. Sorry Kurt.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


After three different people in the last week told me I looked like Meghan Linsey from The Voice, I finally Googled her and yep! There's definitely a strong resemblance. Doesn't hurt that I'm also a singer, so it's nice to know I have such a talented doppelganger.
posted by platinum at 6:20 PM on May 22, 2015


I resemble Jason Schwartzman so closely that, at least once a month, strangers come up to me to tell me that or ask if I am him. (Especially as I frequent hipster/indie circles). I never know how to respond—even when meant as a compliment or flirtation, rather than simply an observation, because it's not as though I had any hand in it.

Still, it's not awkward as the moment when I can tell someone at a concert or bar has noticed the resemblance: they do a bit of a double-take from across the way, nudge their friend and whisper and giggle, then their friend does the same. It feels a bit like being a walking novelty.
posted by kaisemic at 7:02 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been told a few random things. Maybe it's worse if it's always the same one. I got young Brando once, and once even David Beckham -- who I look nothing like, at all, likely because I am white and was abroad. More frequently however it was the dude who plays Gomez Adams. Which, now that you mention it, I should grow a mustache
posted by Hoopo at 7:18 PM on May 22, 2015


Whenever someone notes a celebrity resemblance, I'm reminded of how the police in a William Gibson story (pretty sure it's Virtual Light) would use face matching software to determine what celebrity most closely resembled their missing person and then ask witnesses if they had seen someone who looked like that.

From the many Hawaiian vacation photos that have been eagerly shared with me over the years, apparently I am the exact twin of every hula dancer on the islands. I blame rum goggles.
posted by jamaro at 8:17 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait, bendy, what's the next question? How difficult was it to birth The Cool? Exactly how much blue is "Kind of"?

a halcyon day: I was just thinking, "do you play the trumpet?" but your questions are so much better. He's in the south San Francisco HD if you want to know more. Please report back!
posted by bendy at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


it shouldn't matter if someone is pretty or not. That's the problem, the fact that it still matters, not the fact that everyone just hasn't realized how pretty they and everyone are else yet

I don't know, I mean people are attracted to all kinds of people. Of course it "shouldn't matter," because we all want to be fair, but it's kind of inescapable that no matter how you look, some set of people somewhere (and I don't mean fetishists, just people) will be sexually attracted to you, and it's part of being human. It makes the idea of being inescapably ugly kind of... irrelevant. If you're worried it's affecting your professional or social opportunities, so be it, but the reality is no one has to agree that you're ugly, it's not that objective.
posted by easter queen at 8:43 PM on May 22, 2015


When I was in junior high I got told that I looked like Benny Hill. >:-(
posted by brujita at 11:00 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lyn Never you have my eternal gratitude for being at least one person who thinks twice about making stupid comments about height. There are very few things I can do about being 6'7". Yes, I know that's tall and yes I've heard that one before.

and no I don't play or like basketball damnit! Why do you ask? Are you a jockey?


My father once mentioned a guy he knew in college, who carried a little laminated card in his pocket. One side read 6'8" and the other read No, I don't play basketball.
posted by rifflesby at 11:59 PM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


So yes, Sandra Bernhard is hot. She also has facial features that, when taken out of the context of her as a person, are not typically considered the most desirable in women in America in 2015. I'm not trying to be a dick here, but I think it's strange to fail to acknowledge that.

Good Lord this sounds like that episode of the Office where Kevin kept insisting that Hilary Swank wasn't hot and the whole office had to take sides and argue about it.
posted by discopolo at 12:14 AM on May 23, 2015


I know I've let my hair grow too long when people start telling me I look like Gene Wilder.
posted by um at 7:02 AM on May 23, 2015


People keep telling me I look like Wil Wheaton in the past year. Unsure if it is a compliment. Sadly, no one asked for my autograph at PAX South (a gaming convention).

"you look like a fat James MacAvoy"

I've got an idea for a picture film! Stay still!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:01 AM on May 23, 2015


I learned to keep my mouth shut after once commenting to someone that they looked like Tilda Swinton. I meant it as a very sincere compliment but the slight pause on her face informed me that she didn't see it as a flattering comparison. In hindsight I realized that Ms. Swinton has had many untraditional and quirky looks during her career and I should have probably been more specific. I felt pretty shitty about it because sometimes people tell me I look like an asian Sean Penn and all I can think is "Really...Spicolli"?
posted by cazoo at 9:34 AM on May 23, 2015


I look like a chunky version of Ming the Merciless, and if I shaved my beard, trimmed my eyebrows back a bit and wore a dark suit, I could easily cosplay as D'Onofrio's version of Wilson Fisk. Most people who have mistaken me for someone else, though, usually think I look like someone they know, and in one heartbreaking case, it was the late brother of the woman who stopped me on the street. The look on her face, I can't begin to tell you.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently I look enough like someone somebody else knows that I get mistaken for them constantly. There is either one really popular guy around here that looks like me or I just have one of those completely average faces.

Barring that, in college I was told that I bore more than a passing resemblance to John Linnel and once convinced someone that he was my older brother. Not exactly celebrity status, but at least I knew that whoever mentioned it at least shared some musical interests with me.
posted by Durhey at 7:54 PM on May 23, 2015


I don't get celebrity comparisons very much anymore, but people always tell me I look like their relative/friend/co-worker, which I think is their clueless way of saying I have the facial attributes of a Bog-Standard Ashkenazic Jewish Female, because we all look alike. It's like East Asian women who get the Lucy Liu comparisons, but the comparisons are culturally loaded in a very different way.
posted by mirepoix at 10:08 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I was thinner, people told me I looked like Barbra Streisand, Julia Roberts, and Sarah Jessica Parker -- all of whom get called ugly with disturbing regularity even though I think they're pretty. I can understand where the writer is coming from. When SJP gets that "horseface" jab, I still want to bury my head in the sand.
posted by mirepoix at 10:13 PM on May 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Years ago when I had red hair, in Julia Robert's heyday, I used to get told all the time that I looked like her. Then when I dyed my hair dark, I was Jennifer Love Hewitt. All the time. Twice, I had some guy run after me (on two seperate occasions, wtf!) to tell me I was a dead ringer for Joan Cusack. I didn't really take that as a compliment but by the same token, I don't think I look much like any of these women so I I didn't take it seriously either. Maybe a little like Julia, but these women look nothing like each other either so how similar can I be? People are weird.

My husband gets mistaken for Mark Waugh (famous Australian cricketer) to the point that he has signed autographs pretending to be him! So funny.
posted by Jubey at 10:18 PM on May 23, 2015


My grandfather, a very dapper man, was the image of character actor Adolph Menjou. (We're talking the thirties and forties here). On occasion he could wrong foot the odd maitre d' at upscale restaurants by showing up after making reservations under his own name (Smith). Then would ensue the shuffling of tables to ensure the gentlemen was a more suitable placement.
posted by BWA at 7:57 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get Kristin Schaal a lot lately and I love her, too. I was hurt when commenters on news articles about Last Man on Earth said mean things about her looks.

I had to look up both Sandra Bernhard and Kristin Schaal. Interestingly, unlike most celebrities both of them look strikingly different from photo to photo. Depending on the lighting, their expressions, and whatever else goes into the photography, the photos were all over the place.

I have never been told I look like a celebrity, but apparently the world is full of cousins and friends who look just like me.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:24 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the past I've been told I look like either Nick Cave, that Ric bloke from The Cars, or that Psychedelic Furs fellow. And Imogen Heap, once, and she's awesome, so hey, that's cool. It happens infrequently enough that it's kind of fun. I can see how having to deal with it every damn day would really get on my nerves.

I'm not compared to actors ever. People with my various physical attributes [1] are fairly non-existent in film, and if they do appear, you can bet they'll not be portrayed as a person who is attractive, good, moral, etc. I am sure that a lot of people are in the same boat with me.

So basically, where I'm going with this is that the entire notion of conventional attractiveness can go fuck itself, it seemingly generally does anyway. As social constructs go, it's utter crap with no positive outcome.

[1] I was going to go into details about those and then decided that they don't actually matter for the purposes of this post.
posted by ephemerae at 11:35 PM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


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