George Michael Tried To Make Me A Woman

16 May

One of my all time favorite songs is “Freedom” by George Michael. I remember the first time I heard the song and saw the video for it at the same time, it was life changing. Yes, seriously.

It was 1990, I only know that because it was right around the time of my Bat Mitzvah, I was thirteen years old. I had heard the song on the radio before and it had me at the very first opening guitar riff. The lyrics solidified the deal and the fact that the adorable George Michael was singing sweetened the package. Teenage girl radio blasting perfection.

Sometime soon after, I saw the video for “Freedom” on MTV. I was mesmerized, entranced, speechless. I had never seen and heard so much beauty in one place. There it was, this phenomenal song and these Amazonian women that I had been worshipping in the fashion magazines for the past few years. I watched Cindy Crawford caress her long silky limbs in the bathtub. I looked at Christy Turlington’s impeccable face and confident strut draped in nothing but a white sheet.
I actually remember thinking to myself, “Now, that’s what a woman is supposed to be like.”

It was the year that I was supposed to become a woman. I was no longer a child, I was a teenager. I knew that if that’s what a woman was supposed to be, then I was going to have some serious problems. It never once occurred to me that what makes a woman is what’s on the inside. What makes a girl transform into a woman is her brain and her actions. All I knew was that those women in that video were the what women were supposed to look like. That definition of femininity and womanhood stuck with me for years and years. I am sad to say that I am still beating that demon down at the door.

I spent that year learning Torah portions and practicing witty candle lighting honor speeches, that meant nothing to me. I spent hour upon hour searching for the perfect dresses and accessories for all the parties that would be held in my honor. The perfect menu, DJ, party favors and five tier cake was all hand picked. The service was meaningful for my family and the party was a success and fun for all who attended.

Over twenty years later and now a Mother of three, here’s my take away;
There were so many lost opportunities for the right people to step in and interrupt MTV and the magazines. I was lost in the media shuffle. I learned that I would never be good enough because I didn’t look like Linda Evangelista or Christy Turlington. I believed that every photo shopped image of every genetic jackpot winner should be my life goal. The magazines, the media and the images still exist. We even have the internet to contend with now. I am going to have to be louder. For my children, my voice and the images I provide for them of women will just have to be louder and bigger than those around them. For every billboard my kids see of a shiny naked woman on all fours hawking jeans, I am going to read them a book about Margaret Mead. For every magazine telling them how to get their body bikini ready, I am going to walk my Mommy hips from my lounge chair to the pool in front of my kids without flinching.

I still blast that song every time I hear it on the radio. It reminds me of how impressionable kids are, especially young girls. It also makes me realize how much these kids truly do need us as role models. After all, at Thirteen, I thought that George Michael and I were going to get married and live happily ever after one day.


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