The time has come for us to honor our last Feminist Friday of women’s history month. We both wanted to provide you with something fresh, something spectacular, something that would celebrate womanhood and feminism in all its glory.
The pressure was on.
And friends, I think we managed to come up with something pretty spectacular…a tribute to Amy Sherman-Palladino and the television shows that have made an indelible impact on countless females.
If you don’t know who Amy Sherman-Palladino is, it’s probably safe to say you’ve been living under a rock. She has inspired so many women and girls through fierce female characters–and she’s done it more than once. First, through Lorelai and Rory on Gilmore Girls, then through Midge in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
The thing these two shows have in common? Badass women who let their freak flags fly as they attempt to navigate life, motherhood, and womanhood.
Because we are such huge fans of these two hit series, and because this is a month all about celebrating fierce females, we have decided to each compile a list of things we have learned from Ms. Sherman-Palladino.
We hope you enjoy!
Growing up with only three channels limited my TV-watching experiences to Jeopardy, the nightly news, and Saturday morning cartoons, so it wasn’t until later in life that I found Gilmore Girls. To call it my “happy show” would be an understatement–just ask my hubs; you’ll find him rolling his eyes and saying, “Are you seriously watching this, AGAIN?” During Thanksgiving break, you will find me curled up on my couch watching the Gilmore Girls marathon on UpTV. If I am having trouble sleeping at night, it is my go-to show for relaxation and calm. When I am sad or angry, I find comfort and joy in Lorelai, Rory, Luke, and the cast of other hilarious characters from Stars Hollow. And, in my many reruns of this show, I am reminded of several important lessons we should all carry with us daily.
Drink the coffee; eat the junk food
Certainly, Lorelai and Rory are shameless in their love of coffee and junk food, and I am often jealous of their ability to eat and drink what they want while sharing each other’s tiny clothes. But, I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives, the small moments of enjoying a little junk. Granted, if I were to eat like they do, I wouldn’t fit through my front door. But in a world of organic, no-red-meat, but-eat-only-meat, yes-you-can-drink-milk, no-you-shouldn’t-drink-milk, carbs-are-okay, carbs-are-bad diets and an almost unrealistic body image, we often feel shamed when partaking in yummy-but-bad-for-you food. I have sometimes felt embarrassed when being in a fast food line, worrying that someone might notice me eating junk. While I do get the need to eat healthy (and I mostly do), I also think it’s important to remember balance. That it’s okay to find joy in the little things. That a little coffee and ice cream and pizza never hurt anybody.
So, eat the junk and drink the coffee!
Read the books
Rory is right; there’s nothing that smells better than a book. I’d rank it right above new baby and new car smells. Her passion for books flows throughout the each of the seasons, and it is that love that aids her in attending a premier private high school and later Yale University. Books open the door to so many worlds and opportunities. They help small town girls like Rory (and me) make something of themselves. Better than that, though, Rory makes it cool to be a nerdy girl! I remember the first episode I saw Rory’s love of books, and I immediately felt connected to her. She was me in high school. However, I wasn’t always treated like it was cool to be smart. I sometimes found myself joining extra sports and activities to “make up” for the fact that being smart was my thing. If I also played every sport and cheered and joined, then it was okay to be smart too–as long as I was labeled as something else. A basketball player. A cheerleader. I wish I had been more secure in my intelligence and spent more time cultivating it.
So, smart girls, you read the books! You read all the books!
Every mom is both hot and a hot mess
As a mom, I can tell you that it is so easy to feel like you’re failing. Like you simply don’t have it all together and you never will. I see the moms with their perfectly dressed children, making homemade gluten-free, organic cookies for their kid’s class party, and there I am, flying through the school before work, dropping off my store-bought cupcakes I grabbed that morning, and swiping my kid’s shirt over his snotty nose. It’s easy to feel lacking in the mom department. I know I do. Often. But, Lorelai reminds us that all moms have moments when they are hot and moments when they are just not. And that’s okay. In the end, as long as you love your kids and you wake up and try hard every day, your kiddos will grow up to survive and thrive. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even go to Yale!
So, give yourself grace and give yourself credit.
We all get a little lost sometimes
Even the brilliant, rule-following, Yale attending, knows-exactly-what-she-wants Rory Gilmore gets a little lost sometimes. We all do. Our best laid plans can easily be thwarted by that thing we call life. It’s easy to find ourselves moving in a completely different direction than we thought we would. Whether in a relationship or a job, things sometimes just don’t work out. And that’s okay. Like Rory, we need those moments of confusion and insecurity. Those are the moments we truly find out what we are made of, who we are. If things are always easy, then we have no reason to change or grow. Instability creates growth. More than that, when we do figure things out, we tend to pursue with voracity the things we most want in life.
Let yourself get lost. Only then can you really find yourself.
While Logan Huntzberger’s relationship with Rory is one plagued by viewer opinions and debates, there is no doubt that he often helps Rory to step outside her perfectly poised comfort zone. Careful and cautious by nature, Rory takes many leaps of faith (both literal and metaphorical) at Logan’s encouragement. Some of these leaps end in disaster. But others change her to her very core, making her a more well-rounded individual. These moments remind us that taking risks is the first step in personal growth. Some of those risks will leave us flat on our faces in the dust. But others help us to soar. Being afraid to fail ensures we will always stay where we started. “Failing forward” is necessary for success. Thank goodness I have failed! Thank goodness I am not the same scared little girl I was back then.
So, take the chance. It might be the one that makes all the difference.
Be yourself; be different
The best thing about Stars Hollow is the people. Ms. Patty, Babette, Kirk, and the town troubadour are just a few of the lovable crazies in Gilmore Girls. Through Ms. Patty’s recollection of her lurid love encounters, Babette’s screechy descriptions of her Morey, Kirk’s various money-making schemes, and the troubadour’s acoustic soundtrack for life, we are reminded that being different is AWESOME! What fun would this world be if everyone was exactly the same?
Own your weirdness! The world is better because of it.
Sometimes, you have to be savage
I have to be honest and say that I have a strong love/hate relationship with Emily Gilmore. But either way, there is no doubt that she is fierce, and she speaks her mind. As someone who has spent the great majority of her life holding back my words or emotions so as not to offend another or cause any conflict, I admire this about her. She is unwilling to settle for or put up with something just to make another feel less uncomfortable or stop an oncoming conflict. As I’ve grown older, my toleration for ignorance and nonsense is ever decreasing, and I’ve found myself more willing to “handle up” on someone who deserves it. And I’m okay with that. I am not a doormat to be used to clean dirty shoes, and I will not be treated as such.
Sometimes, you gotta be savage.
Friendship is everything
Of course, the central friendship in Gilmore Girls is that of Lorelai and Rory. And it’s beautiful. The story of a mother and daughter who raise each other, Rory oftentimes mothering free-spirited Lorelai, each being what the other needs. The heart of the show itself is the overarching theme of friendship and its impact on humans. Within Stars Hollow and throughout Rory’s college experience, we see the value of having other people to share in joy and heartbreak. And with each new friendship, the characters grow into new and better people. My favorite friendship in the story, though, is between Rory and Paris. Two unlikely friends who start out as enemies. Rory’s kindness often softens Paris’s intensity. Paris’s fight often rouses the meek and timid Rory. It is this relationship that shows us that friendship can be found in the most unlikely of places, if only we give each other a chance.
Remember, friendship is necessary and worth it.
Fight for your dreams
For a girl who became a single mother at 16 years of age and who spent the majority of her life doing it totally alone, Lorelai Gilmore is utterly heroic. From working as a maid in an inn to later living her dream by co-owning the Dragonfly Inn with her cooky friend, Sookie, we see Lorelai fight to live her dreams despite the many challenges that stand in her way. In the same way, we see Rory work her tail off to one day go to Harvard. She ultimately chooses to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and attend Yale University instead. Each, through their own forms of adversity, find a way to achieve their goals. And they never give up. NEVER.
Be remarkable. Live your dreams.
Females are fierce
My favorite thing about Gilmore Girls? There are so many fierce females for girls to look up to and love. In this show, we find strong female characters who make their own decisions and live their own lives, with or without the help of a man. They are celebrated for their womanhood! And in life, I hope to find each of the female characters within myself. I want to be free like Lorelai, brilliant like Rory, tough like Emily, silly like Sookie, and aggressive like Paris.
Girl power is the best power.
I spent a large part of my teenage and young adult years watching Gilmore Girls. I found a fellow bibliophile in Rory, fell in love with Jess, admired Lorelai’s free spirit. Then, in my adult years, I encountered The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, where I marveled at Midge’s fearlessness and determination as she tackles life head-on. In these shows, I witnessed what strong women can achieve, no matter what life throws their way.
What I love about these two shows is that they came at times in my life when they were relevant to my experience. As a teenager, I could relate to Rory Gilmore in some ways–though we are very different people, she had some of the same interests and goals that I had. Then, as a woman and a mother, I met Midge who, again though very different, was at a similar stage of life.
Midge is such an amazing woman. She suddenly finds herself divorced and moving back in with her parents, after her husband admits that he is no longer happy with their life. Do you think this keeps her down? NO! Midge puts on her big girl panties and turns heartbreak into hilarity. An unstoppable force, equal parts sass and class, Midge Maisel has a little something we could all learn from.
Life is What You Make It
As cheesy as it sounds, we are in control of our own happiness. Let’s face it, sometimes life sucks. Bills are overdue, kids are sick, we are over-committed at work…We don’t always have a say in the things that happen to us. But, we do have a choice in how we react. Midge is a champion–she takes her trials and channels them into her comedy, using her misfortune to fuel her passion. It would be really easy for Midge to just let her life happen to her. She is not that kind of woman, though. Take a page from Midge–your life shouldn’t be happening to you.
We Choose the Things that Define Us
Wealthy. Jewish. Mother. Divorcee. These are all titles attributed to Midge. People expect her to be a prim and proper housewife, meek and mild. Instead, she is fierce, determined, sassy, crass, outspoken, and a woman in a male-dominated profession. She does not let her labels define her…I think, as women, a lot of the time we get lost in our labels. I know that once I became a mother, it was so much a part of who I was that it was hard to describe myself without that identifier. Just to clarify—I am not trying to negate my identity as a mother. But when we allow ourselves to be limited by our identifiers, we do ourselves a disservice. I am so much more than one thing. And so are you, girl. You are more than the labels society places on you.
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes, Momma
Making mistakes does not make you a less-than mother. That time you fed your kid nothing but cheese crackers for a week, or forgot to pack a jacket, or yelled at them when you swore you wouldn’t yell anymore—we’ve all been there. Something that has always amazed me (and not in a good way) is the capacity women have for shaming each other, especially when it comes to motherhood. Mommas, we should be standing up for each other! Most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. Midge is no different. I had moments where I wanted to judge her, accuse her of not spending enough time with her children. But then I realized she was doing what she needed to do to take care of herself and her kids. It’s okay to make mistakes, Momma. Just ask Mrs. Maisel.
Let Your Freak Flag Fly
One thing about Midge…she hoists that freak flag high. The first time she ever got on stage, she flashed the audience. She makes a fool of herself time and again before finding her stride as a comedian. She embarrasses a friend by telling raunchy stories at her wedding. She talks about her parents’ sex life as part of her bit before realizing her father is in the audience. What I admire about her is that each and every time, she embraces the experience, learns from it, and gets back on stage, stronger than ever. Her candidness and authenticity are what make her so lovable. What can we learn from this? Let that flag fly proudly! People know when you’re being fake and when you’re being genuine. If you embrace that quirky side of you and own who you are, you will be the best version of yourself. And that’s pretty freaking awesome.
Find Your Tribe
It’s hard to find good people. People who will show up for you time and again. People who won’t judge you for your every mistake. People who will support you, because they know you just need someone to have a little faith. Something we learn from Mrs. Maisel (and from the Gilmores) is that a tribe of women is unstoppable. Love interests come and go, but (true) girlfriends last forever.
Pursuing Our Dreams Takes Hard Work and, Sometimes, Sacrifice
If life is easy, it usually means we’ve settled for the comfortable option. Pursuing what you are passionate about is usually accompanied by sleepless nights, strained relationships, too much sugar and caffeine…the list goes on. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it and sometimes getting what we want requires sacrifice. Midge gives up a great many things to pursue her career, because she knows it will all be worth it in the end. Her journey is one of personal growth and freedom, and she’s willing to make sacrifices to get where she wants to be. I hope we all can be brave enough to have the courage Midge possesses.
Find Your Confidence
Time and again, people comment on Midge’s appearance. Her manager, Susie, regularly makes fun of her outfits. Men objectify her more times than I can count. But her appearance is part of who she is. No matter what people say, she owns it. She goes on stage, sometimes in questionable locales, in her LBD, wearing red lipstick and heels, because it gives her confidence. I say take a page out of her book; go out and find your own version of the LBD and rock it, because when you feel good about yourself, you invite positive energy. And we could all use some extra good vibes in our lives.
Be a Boss.
If there is only one lesson you learn from Midge, I hope it’s how to be a boss. To own who you are, go for your dreams, and live life in the best way you know how.
This wraps up our Feminist Friday posts…at least for now. We hope you enjoyed this month’s celebration of woman power. Until next time…