We all have heroes growing up. Some look to world leaders, spiritual gurus, or writers of prose. There are those who are fortunate enough to have people in their everyday lives to admire – police officers, teachers or doctors. They give us courage, strength, and standards to live up to. They can, in essence, help form the core of the people we were meant to someday become.
My hero was Wonder Woman. The Lynda Carter version, not Gal Godot, who just makes me feel like a muppet.
Wonder Woman was a figure I could get behind. Dreadful show, to be sure, but I truly believe that Lynda Carter (as WW) was the epitome of fabulousness. She ran, jumped and spun around wearing a strapless bathing suit and high-heeled boots, and caught bad guys armed only with a rope and really chic bracelets. She even wore coordinating earrings. And did you ever notice that her hair never moved? She never broke a sweat, and her make up never smeared.
This is the standard to which I’ve aspired, if only in my head. And it’s messed me up for the last 35 years.
Not for lack of trying, of course. I once tried to brush the natural curls out of my hair so that I could achieve the WW bouffant, with terrifying results. My strands decided to rebel against the imposed regime and instead of lying quietly in an orderly, super-heroine manner branched out in sixteen different directions. My bangs puffed up like a threatened bird. Static electricity took up residence in the back of my head. I looked like I had gotten my head caught in a revolving door. I think it made my little brother cry.
Things haven’t gotten any better with age.
Somewhere along the line, I missed a lecture/memo/piece of DNA that many women seem to get. I can’t do that so-called “feminine” thing that TV told us we were supposed to just do naturally. Back in the day, all someone like, say, Jaclyn Smith had to do was stand there, and men were entranced. (Yes, yes, I know – she looks like Jaclyn Smith. It helps.) A turn of the head, a hand on the hip – voila! I tried the hand on the hip thing once, and I just looked like someone’s pissed off Russian grandma. Not a real turn-on. I just can’t swing it. A man once came over to talk to me at a party. I was determined to do the “eyes” thing I’ve seen other women do – you know, the slightly lowered head, the demure smile.
“Hi,” I said. “The wine is great.”
He coughed. “Yeah. I like a pilsner.”
This is going well, I thought. “My name’s Jen…”
“I’m Mike.” He sits down and leans in. I emit something resembling a giggle, and take a sip of chardonnay. “And you’re sitting on my coat.”
I choked while swallowing the wine, and he fortunately did not send me the dry cleaning bill.
But Wonder Woman? She’d look at the guy and say, “Oh, yeah? You’ll get your coat when I’m ready to move.” Dude would naturally find this attractive and he’d wind up fetching her drinks all evening. And if he said something rude, she’d lasso him with her “truth rope” and he’d admit he’s a total nimrod and would agree to wear a sign from now on alerting other women to this fact. WW is strong, confident and can kick-ass in stilettos.
I so want to be more Wonderish. I would like to dig down, find some long-dormant confidence, throw on some lipstick and say “Howdy.” But I’m a middle-aged, overweight ex-schoolteacher. The odds are not stacked in my favor. I have the necessary parts; I’ve just never been totally clear on the instructions. And I’m missing a few tools.
Yet I arise every morning, determined to be fabulous on some level. It’s a struggle. I will never, ever be able to pull off the red, white and blue bathing suit. I cannot run in heels. And as much as I like to pretend to be a diva, sometimes you just have to take off the tiara (even if it’s figurative) and deal with the hand you’ve been dealt. Here’s the thing: Wonder Woman does not wear a bra that’s been duct-taped together. Wonder Woman does not spill soup down her front. When men talk to Wonder Woman, she does not assume they’re just trying to get to her more attractive friend. And Wonder Woman never, ever eats peanut butter from the jar with a butter knife, because Wonder Woman didn’t run the dishwasher and is too lazy to hand-wash a spoon.
I’m telling you, I need better accessories.