Growing up in the 1970s, I was well aware of the feminist movement, further being the daughter of a proudly feministic mother and father. (Yes, men can be feminists, too; the ideology knows no gender restrictions.) At the ripe age of nine, I wanted to be Princess Leia. Not because she was a princess (well, maybe…), but because she was smart, feisty, and fearless, fighting for what’s right alongside the men, even leading them.
From high school through college in the 1980s, I watched women enter the workforce in droves, and the resulting evolution of power suits. Cinematically, I still admired Princess Leia (talk about the ultimate girl-power moment, with her rescuing Han Solo). But, I identified with other smart female characters, too, like Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark and even Staten Island secretary Tess in Working Girl.
All the while, the concept of “having it all” came up over and over again, both in real life and in art. “Having it all” meant having the perfect husband and perfect kids (2.6 of them, at that), along with the perfect house and perfect job. “Having it all” was something women everywhere were striving for, and young women like me were supposed to strive for… and I thought it was dumb.
Why did I need to tick all these boxes to achieve perfection—or, more accurately, someone else’s idea of perfection? Who was this nameless, faceless person who came up with such a ridiculously black-and-white definition, anyway? It was about as absurd to me as believing that men automatically had it all at the moment of birth. Please. (To rephrase the old perfume commercial, I know some men who can barely bring home the bacon, much less fry it up in a pan.) As long as I met my own high standards of achievement for my career and personal life, I thought, that was “having it all.” And frankly, for a gender who fought so long and hard to have a semblance of equality, why were women placing impractical notions in their own heads and obstacles in their own way?
Interestingly, and thankfully, I’m meeting more and more women, from multiple generations, who share this view. No longer is the focus on a singular definition of perfection. It’s on your own vision and version of perfection. But really, “perfect” isn’t quite the right word, because that means something without flaws, and flaws are what make you push through to improve. Rather, “super” is a better fit. It’s positive without being improbable. It’s sensational without a superiority complex.
I think my life is pretty super. Superb, too. In fact, while another cinematic idol of mine, George Bailey, may have had a wonderful life, I say I have a superb life.