Pop Culture

The Persephone Interview: Alison Arngrim Pt. 2

As you can tell by yesterday’s post, this was the most fun I think it’s possible to have in a celebrity interview.  In part two, we’ll cover what TV  Nellie’s future might have looked like, the scoop on anal bleach and much, much more. Alison Arngrim: Yes! Anal bleaching! I just said that to my husband recently.  “So what do you think of anal bleaching?” The look I got, like what in the hell are you even talking about.  He had not heard of anal bleaching.  His hair stood on end, and he was like “Anal bleaching? What? Why in the hell…? How would you bleach it and why?” And I explained it was part of the process of going to the salon, and after people would have things waxed and shaved, they’d get anal bleaching.  He was convinced the world was coming to a complete fucking end at that point. Yeah, so I’m not into anal bleaching, or piercing, or shaving my public hair.  And I think that’s because people who were sexually abused as kids tend to have serious body image problems, for obvious reasons, and it’s not like I’ve never had any body image problems.  There were times when I was a teenager and in my early 20’s and I was perfectly gorgeous and I’d look in the mirror and go “Oh! I look awful!” or “Oh! I have terrible legs!” I look back and think, oh my God, what an idiot I was.  But most girls I know, unlike me, had terrible body image issues, so there was the extreme dieting, lots of plastic surgery, they would absolutely jump at the chance to pierce it, bleach it, shave it, fix it, anything.  In that group, it’s weird that I haven’t done any of that.  I don’t even have a tattoo, my ears are the only thing that are pierced.  Ha! Like I said, I barely shave my armpits. I don’t bleach anything other than my hair, and at this point I’ve gone gray so going to blond means darkening it instead of lightening.  Ooh! And I’ve got these little bleaching molds from my dentist.  I’m lightening my teeth.

Ophelia: I think that’s a healthy attitude to have.

AA: Even the teeth whitening, I’m keeping to a minimum.  I’m 48 years old and I went to the dentist, and he was like “you didn’t smoke, but they’re not as white as they should be.”  But still, I’m not going all out.  I went to this party, it was the TV Land Awards, and when the lights went down to show a video, everyone’s teeth glowed in the dark.  Everybody’s teeth went purple, and that was just wrong.  I don’t want my teeth to glow in the dark.  The dentist said most of the purple glowy people had the new veneers, but still.  So I’m bleaching, but I’m using this slow, gradual process that only lasts for two weeks.

O: I think it’s great and really healthy that you’re able to find that comfort in your own skin, especially living in Hollywood and with the abuse in your past.

AA: To say I like my body,  you know how rare that is? I like my body the way it is.  Okay, I need to go to the gym, but that’s a health thing.  It’s not like, oh, I need to be skinny to fit in these jeans.  I need to do this because I need to lower my cholesterol.

O: I think that makes you a great role model, too.  Young girls and women don’t have a lot of women they can look up to who have that sort of confidence.  I think young women need to hear that message from those of us that aren’t spring chickens anymore.  I was talking to my girl scout troop, first I felt really old because they all asked “What’s Little House on the Prairie?”

AA: *squeals*

O: How can they not know?  All the moms were pretty thrilled, but they were unimpressed.  But I see these issues sprouting in how they talk to each other, and they’re only ten years old.  Already they’re picking on their bodies and seeing faults and comparing themselves to some photoshopped idea of a celebrity.

AA:I know! Six year olds are asking if they look fat.  Have you read Molly Ringwald’s book?

O: I have not.

AA: Getting the Pretty Back.  It’s not really an autobiography, it’s more of a handy dandy guide of how to do everything from throwing a dinner party to breaking up with your boyfriend to how to do your hair.  It’s full of stuff like how to fix up your wardrobe by buying a pair of low heels and a nice scarf, all this sort of magazine-y stuff.  But interspersed with that are all this tidbits about her own life.  There’s a story about her daughter coming into her room at about 8 or 9 and asking if her parents thought she was fat.  She and her husband were aghast.

O: It’s so scary that girls this young are already buying into all this crap about their appearance.  It’s great that you’re got such a positive, take it or leave it attitude.

AA: Yeah, I mean, I do the little stuff.  I bleach my hair now that it’s gray.  My husband likes it gray, so if I ever decide not to dye my hair he’s already said he’s fine with it.  I do have acrylic nails, but that’s a practical thing because I type with them.   But no plastic boobs. I like my boobs.

O: I wish more women would stand up for natural boobs.  These are my boobs, this is what gravity and time do to them, they’re still fantastic.

AA: And they make bras.  Bras will totally shape everything and fight gravity and perk things up.  I wear a bra.  I had to stop going braless in my 30’s.  My mother rarely did, and she was a rather ample chested woman.  I remember she needed to wear a bra for an audition and she had to go buy one.  I was like, geez, woman, how old are you?  She said, “I went to burn my bra and I didn’t have one!”  But I get those cute bras from Victoria’s Secret.

O: One of the joys of being a blogger is never having to wear a bra.  The cats don’t care if my boobs are up or down as long as I remember to feed them.  Swinging back to stand-up for a minute, stand up is a traditionally male field, what challenges do you think women comics face that men don’t?

AA:It’s the same thing as women in any field, you’ve gotta work twice as hard for half the credit. When you look at the women in comedy going way back, we’ve done it, it’s just you had to have a major point of view and an attitude.  Look at Phyllis Diller.  Or Joan Rivers.  They weren’t doing the Gracie Allen dumb girl routine or anything.  They were doing stand up comedy, straight up, in your face, and they made it work.  Nobody ever had a problem with them being female, so they really paved the way.   It was hard for them, but they went out there determined to be funnier than anybody else.  In the 70’s, when I first started doing stand up, it was hard because that’s when comedy really started exploding and it became something everyone wanted to do.  I guess maybe that would be the one advantage Phyllis Diller and Joan had, back when they became successful it was when it wasn’t popular for anyone to go into comedy, even the men.  Then it became insanely popular during the seventies, that’s when David Letterman and Jay Leno, Robin Williams, all started doing comedy.  Then it was just a bloodbath.  For the women who started then, it was brutal.  So of course, at 15, that’s when I decided to jump in.

Part 1 of our interview with Alison Arngrim, Part 3 will continue on Monday!

By Ophelia Payne

Editor in Chief of Persephone Magazine, Ophelia spends most of her time in front of a monitor. She writes long, rambling emails in her free time.

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