I originally wrote this piece five years ago when Sarah Jessica Parker turned 50 and she was back on HBO in her new show, DIVORCE, but I didn’t have the courage to publish it until now. At that time she was (and I’d argue remains) most heavily associated with SEX AND THE CITY. I really wanted to write something about SJP to honor her, that left out this side ‘horse-face’ conversation. The last thing I wanted to do was put it front and center — I mean, gross, what a way to wish a person happy b-day. That’s part of the reason it took me so long to go ahead and push this publish button. But the truth is every time I stumble into a conversation about SJP or S&TC (which sure doesn’t happen as much as it used to but it still comes up) and I’m spouting my general adoration there is always at least one person in the group — usually a man, but sometimes women too, who have to bring up her looks in a negative way. EVERY TIME. It’s like they just can’t let her be there as an appealing person in entertainment — they feel the need to put some kind of asterisk next to her name. And it makes me so mad every time, like ugh.. really? Why would you take it there? So I decided to try and articulate why this particular tragedy enrages me so.

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First of all, this woman is not unattractive. And during the run of the show, well if she wasn’t famous and just a woman in a bar with friends, I am quite sure that 99% of men who want to call her out for not being very attractive would happily try to get her number or take her home if they could. With her body, her hair, her eyes, her confidence they would probably prefer her to 85–90% of the women in the bar. I mean I think I would know because I see the girls that these men flirt with, date and wife-up. And that isn’t a knock on those women, this is just a statement that most women, REGULAR women, are not supe-symmetrical beauty queens straight off a Victoria’s Secret photo-shoot — you know what I mean? She’s totes good enough for you IRL, but in your entertainment — “I just don’t get it”? Like, shut up dude! YOU WISH!



“Do I strut, am I a strutter? — Carrie Bradshaw

SJP comes off with a terrific sense of self, she knows she is glamorous and has a lot to offer. Yet, that bothers so many people. See if she were more marginalized on her show and maybe leaned to her comedy side more and played down her feminine wiles — in a sense acknowledged and even apologized for falling short of some imaginary standard — then people would hardly ever say those mean things. But she doesn’t acknowledge or apologize for anything. Which gets her this; “I just don’t get it,” “she’s not that hot,” “she’s not hot,” all the way to — “she has a horse-face!” (Like who asked you!? And who do you think YOU are exactly, you ain’t no Zac Efron!) And I think more women can relate to SJP than say Margo Robbie or Kate Upton. So when people go after her looks so freely and so viciously, to me it’s more than just a knock on some actress I don’t know, it’s about the war on women’s self esteem. And that leads me to the title of this essay, if SJP is a horse face…? I shudder to think what I am.



“I just… I cannot imagine walking down a runway where all the people sit there and judge me.” — Carrie Bradshaw

Real talk: There is this idea that we all have owned a mirror at one point in our lives and stared down our flaws as a cathartic act of emotional cutting. So the whole horse-face thing, as it pertains to SJP and in various animal likenesses ripples out to millions of other women who identify with her, is particularly painful. Because somehow it’s a reflection of the worst fears we have about ourselves. Something our loved ones would never want us to internalize. Like bro (the royal bro), you are hurting our collective feelings, it’s crazy cruel. For what? Do you think you are earning a hot chick merit badge, by reporting ‘impostors’? You’re not!


“I don’t want people to think that I can’t see the difference between a model and me.” — Carrie Bradshaw

See SJP is just a person, she’s like Bruce Wayne that way. She wasn’t born 5’10 with super beauty powers and she has never claimed otherwise. Batman is such a powerful figure for so many because unlike Superman or Thor he is just a man, a hard working, clever, regular super rich man. And that is part of the reason I think SJP and Carrie Bradshaw are loved so much by so many. If she can do it… maybe I can do it. But… do what exactly?

She makes accessible — what we have been made to feel is inaccessible for us. Carrie Bradshaw’s appearance contrasted with the screen beauty queens of the past threw into sharp relief our ideas about what it takes to be “protagonist hot.” And when you, as a woman in the audience are also the lead in the movie of your own life, that’s a lesson that really resonates. We saw that it actually has a lot more to do with how you ‘carrie’ yourself than the size of your nose. You can be a feminine, dainty, fashionable, sexual woman — as an adult (not only between the ages of 17–28) — if that’s what you want. The show had a way of looking at women’s physical appearance and seeing glasses half full instead of half empty. I think it’s super empowering and really takes the edge off all this pressure, you know the kind that leads otherwise happy young girls to plastic surgeons in droves (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But Carrie Bradshaw’s performance of self wasn’t only attitude and as-is looks. Certainly not, she took a lot of pride in her appearance. I think that’s also something that people had a problem with, like why is she even trying or something? But her striving to be her best is, to me, her most inspiring quality.

“Shopping is my cardio.” — Carrie Bradshaw

Carrie Bradshaw doesn’t do a lot of exercise on the show, but it is quite clear that SJP knows her way around a Pilates studio. Life after you turn 30 is MOST OF YOUR LIFE. And I for one do not want to spend it looking backwards at old pictures of myself, feeling sad about how time has ravaged me. SJP is a lesson that you have a lot more control than you might think on how well you age. It takes work blah blah blah, but it’s so do-able (says a woman with no kids) if you make it a priority for yourself. She also taught me that one of the best things I can do for myself as a woman over 30 was to get in the gym and build my shoulders and chest. It’s like a facelift for your torso! Everything lifts up and before you know it you are bare armed in a backless gown killing it at your 35th b-day party. Why not?!

“A man gains power as he gets older, a woman loses it.” — Gloria Steinem

This brings me to the subject of age. A friend pointed out to me that a lot of the controversy around SJP’s looks during the running of S&TC stemmed from the combination of her age and her looks truly. In her 20’s it’s less of a sticking point. But this show, that mostly revolved around the sex lives of women over 35, was received as kind of subversive to bros everywhere. In the episode 20 SOMETHING GIRLS VS 30 SOMETHING WOMEN, Carrie flips through a photo album representing her life in her 20’s. In a culture, where even old people’s only advice to you is to “never get old” it’s super refreshing to hear Carrie’s measured take on getting older. She sees in her more youthful years taught, soft, smooth skin sure; but also fashion faux paux, terrible apartments, inexperienced partners, and the anxiety of being broke. Carrie is progressive; she looks forward with elation, not backwards with melancholy. This is part and parcel of what SJP does for her audience; she punches father time in the stomach. SJP rebels against a patriarchy that seeks to steal the power from a woman as she ages. I think this plays a big part in the reason that bro’s everywhere feel like it’s their duty to talk shit — gotta hold up that patriarchy.

In closing your honor; I argue it is the pitch perfect casting of Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw that gave normal girls the courage to see themselves as ‘protagonist hot’ in the movie of their own lives, and how dare a bunch of dirty bros (and mean girls) try to take that away.

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AC Kabukuru is a freelance writer living in LA. She writes about self-improvement, adulting, and film/TV. She has an MFA from Boston University.