A few weeks ago, I watched Legally Blonde again. This sort-of romance shows the accomplishment of a woman to remain true to herself and yet grow up enough to make a difference in the world. Although we’re both blondes (okay, my blond hair has gone a tad silver), the resemblance ends there.
I had no interest in pledging a sorority. (There’s a war on, don’t you know? And civil rights … and, and, and …) Those just weren’t my kind of women. They wore make-up and heels and fussed entirely too much about their hair.
I was a terrible snob about it, just like some of the women in the film acted toward Elle Woods. There was a lot of growing up to do.
Twenty years later, I stumbled into the technology business. I got good enough at it that I gave speeches and consulted with Fortune 500 companies on their database systems. I became president of a large geek organization–the first woman in fact.
I gave up my jeans reluctantly. Many of my fellow female travelers were like me, but a good chunk were not. They were women with heels, hair, and a dedication to looking good.
And smart. They were wicked smart.
That was the first time I realized it wasn’t an either/or situation, but very possibly a both/and way of life. It was another clue that division doesn’t have to be a natural way of life. Legally Blonde shows that a woman can be whoever she wants and choose the path that makes a difference.
As women, we can be incredibly petty and divisive. Serving on an all-female board is a very different experience from serving on a mixed-gender board. I imagine that must be true of an all-male board, but they’ve never invited me … It doesn’t have to be that way.
The reason romance novels work is that most women have had, desire, or are in the middle of some type of relationship, even if it isn’t permanent. We can relate to the woman in the story, her struggles to stay true to who she believes she is, as well as adapt to the differences a man, and the people who surround him, will bring into her life.
If we’re open, we can also learn to relate to people who are different from us–whether or not they wear makeup.
Fast forward another twenty years, one of my closest friends still spends hours doing her face every day.
I’m still a plain Jane.
Totally different, but there’s a lot of common ground, beginning with our last names originally being Martin. We never would have gotten together in our twenties. I’m so glad that I’ve learned to think differently.
How about you? Do you have a friend you never thought you’d have?