Getting there

Getting there

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Steel Magnolia

Recently the title of this post has become a term that I've thought about a great deal. I did some web research on it, and found the movie that made this term famous, of course. I also found a country group by this name that I didn't know existed, and I found this definition at Urban Dictionary:

steel magnolia :
A southern woman who is strong and independent yet very feminine.

So you might be wondering why exactly I've been thinking about this term. It's not because I saw the movie recently - in fact, I've never seen the movie. I certainly wasn't thinking about the country duo, because as I mentioned above I didn't even know they existed. I suppose I've been thinking about it because of me.

As I've mentioned before in this blog I underwent some pretty profound personal changes in the last two years. Some of these changes were internal ones, and some were decidedly external. One of these changes has been how I dress and present myself to the world. For many years my daily uniform was the ubiquitous jeans and t-shirt that seem emblematic of motherhood. After losing a significant amount of weight, though, I found my long-lost love of clothing and shoes re-awakened, and suddenly my appearance became much more important. I began colouring my hair to hide those sneaky strands of grey. I bought far more dresses and skirts. I began to collect shoes. I began to find and wear interesting pieces of jewelry - not necessarily expensive, just unique. I began to see dressing up as something to do daily and not reserved for special occasions.  

I also began to talk much more about fashion, and shoes in particular. I realized I could expound at length about the merits of various shoe manufacturers, and which online shoe websites offer the best selection (Schuh, obviously!). A recent incident made me reflect on whether or not this was the image I truly wanted to project, though. Someone from California that I'd met recently commented that I would be right at home in "Orange County".  I suspected this might not be a compliment but rather a reference to my ability to get into "deep" (shallow?) discussions on shoes. I don't believe it was meant as an insult, either, but it did give me pause. Did my love of shoes and fashion mean I was superficial? Did it mean I was going to be seen as someone shallow and without intellect?

After some thought I realized that we all have different aspects to our personalities. I'm not going to claim I am the brightest person in the world - I am not a mathematician or a "rocket scientist". I think I have a reasonable intellect, though, and I know I have an insatiable curiosity about the world and what makes it tick. My feet might be clad in espadrilles and my body in a dress but that doesn't dull my intellect one bit. Now, when I get going on a shoe tangent I suppose it would be easy enough to assume that I am incredibly shallow - but anyone who knows me knows there is far more to me than all that.

I suppose what I realized, and what I want my daughter to know, is that being into shoes and fashion does not preclude being intelligent. It doesn't demean you in any way. It can be just another aspect of who you are. We may not be southern (in fact I am as about far from the south as you can get!) but we can still be steel magnolias - women who are strong and independent (and smart!) and yet very feminine. We don't have to sacrifice one for the other - we can be all those things we want to be. We can talk about shoes and dresses and world politics all in the same evening, and we can be respected for our opinions on all those topics, too. We don't have to apologize for our love of anything, including shoes. I guess that's why I've been thinking about the term steel magnolias. I suppose it's because it's what I aspire to be.

 This video has nothing to do with magnolias, steel or otherwise - but it combines two other great loves of mine, David Bowie and Arcade Fire. I have loved the thin white duke since I was about 12, and in recent years fell for Arcade Fire. Seeing them together makes my heart sing.

No comments:

Post a Comment