Friday, May 13, 2011

Mailbag: The skinny on the bathroom scale

Dear Wise Grape,

First, thanks so much for taking the time to write this blog. I can't stop reading it!

Anyway, my question is about the touchy subject of weight. I'm finishing my junior year in college and every time I update my tape I cringe at how I look in my stand-ups. I'm 5'1" and wear a size 6 dress, and while I'm not insecure about my appearance in real life, I feel like the camera is making me look short and chunky. I don't want to put anyone on the spot by asking about it, so I'd like to know, are news directors overly concerned with how skinny women are? Are there any camera tricks to help disguise this? Should I lose 10 pounds before doing any more stand-ups? Am I being obsessive?

This may be the only business in the world where a woman will ask a man for an honest opinion about her weight, and the man will answer without fear of being slapped into next week.

Funny, the camera seems to add ten pounds to some people and not others. Then there's the classic line from the Friends episode in which Chandler asks, "So how many cameras were on you?

A good photog knows how to put a reporter in the best light. If you're vertically challenged, you simply need to make sure the camera is lower than you are, and shooting up a bit. It's all about perspective. I've seen tapes where a person looked short only to discover they were actually tall but the camera was shooting down at them. And then I've worked with network people who looked tall on camera but actually live in Munchkinland.

A fashion expert would also tell you how to use color to your advantage. Dark colors make you look slimmer, and if you're petite you should avoid stripes. You probably already know that.

I would have to actually see a standup before telling you if you need to lose weight, so if you wanna upload something to YouTube and send me the link, I'll take a look.

And sadly, yes, News Directors do want women to be thin. Or at least look thin. Men can get away with some extra pounds, especially if they do weather. Sorry for the double standard, but I don't make the rules.


How do I write a "cover letter" when sending out tapes to stations that don't have any openings? I have always heard from you it is good to send ND's tapes even though they don't have an openings. Any other suggestions for getting a foot in the door at stations that don't have openings now?

The cover letter is exactly the same, whether there's an opening or not. You're sending the tape because you want a job, so you don't have to state, "I know you don't have any openings" to start your letter. Besides, there are always openings, many of which aren't posted.

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