Mary Tyler Moore is a dearly remembered actress, who embodied style, charm, grace, independence and confidence.
Moore challenged social norms of what a woman should be and how she should act. She inspired women to shape their identities that didn’t rely on being a Mother or Wife (Feldman).
As a millennial, I missed many of Ms. Moore’s original performances but I am greatly appreciative and inspired by her legacy.
She was beautiful, she was smart, she was ambitious, and she took her career seriously, rather than seeing it as a pre-wedding way station (Bianco).
Since, her television debut in the 1960’s, women’s rights and familial roles have progressed.
In 2017, women are (theoretically) empowered to pursue their careers, make decisions about their families, choose their partners, challenge male assumptions and demand respect.
Women have made great strides globally and socially, but many are still restricted from their own ideologies of womanhood and success.
These ideologies begin in childhood and are reinforced through the media and other women; preventing women from becoming who they truly are and who they aspire to be.
There are many external factors that gender equality difficult, but there are a number of internal inhibitions that prevent women from flourishing.
Women are expected by their families, friends, the media and themselves to exemplify contradictory and impossible identities:
- SUPER MOM
- Strong Minded Compromiser
- Stress-Free Maid of Honor
- Perfect Wife
With nonnegotiable characteristics:
- Always Thoughtful
- Remembers Everything
- In a Relationship
Inundated with these messages, it is natural to feel inadequate if we do not conform. We even impose our expectations onto others, and women who don’t conform or share our values are shamed.
[Womanism: a form of feminism that emphasizes women’s natural contribution to society]
As demonstrated by Mary Tyler Moore, on screen and in life, there are many faces and expressions of womanism and personal success. I applaud boldness and authenticity, daring to not only surpass social norms but event the depth of self-imposed restrictions. I support all women who strive daily to become the best versions of themselves.
We teach girls to shrink themselves + To make themselves smaller
We say to girls,
“You can have ambition + But not too much
You should aim to be successful + But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.”
–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, **Flawless
I’m thankful for the strong women in my life, setting an example, encouraging me and teaching me to aspire to greatness. I thank them even for their well-intended expectations that built my defiance and courage.
In the words of a feminist not included on my top five list, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
But while avoiding haters- Don’t become one, especially your own.
“Think big get cash make them blink fast”