We've shared a hotel room along with twenty-hour days and assorted student medical crises on our school's annual music tour. Once or twice a season, we take in a Flames (that's NHL Hockey) game and she not only knows all the players on our team, she knows the players on the opposing team!. And we share more laughs than two forty-something-year-old women should be allowed to have at our children's expense. Our school's music director refers to us jokingly (or not) as Thelma and Louise.
But I have a secret. There's another reason I like hanging with Allison.
Between the two of us, I'm the girly one. When we are on music tour, I blow dry my hair and put on make-up every day. While Allison plays goalie in a woman's hockey league four or five times a week, I write, and read, romance novels. For this barely reformed tom boy, Allison provides the kind of fun, uncomplicated friendship only a fellow former tom boy can provide.
And so, with this glimpse into my current character, perhaps you can see why, when asked to choose a royal or prominent alter ego, I chose Princess Leia.
But Princess Leia. Now, I'm being honest here, she is a woman I wanted to grow up to become.
What can I say. I was a child of the seventies. I grew up in a suburban box, was an original latch-key kid and my world was framed by the 14" screen which, unlike many other parts of Canada in the seventies, carried cable television from the United States, a mere fifty-mile drive from my home. I still sing "conjunction junction" when I puzzle through grammar, tell my kids "rets ro raggy" when its time to get in the car (okay, I did stop that when they became teenagers), and remember John Travolta more vividlly for singing Bar-bar-bar-bar-bara Ann on Kotter and Greased Lightening in Grease than for any part he's played in the 1990s.
While all the girls were running around being Jill (Farrah) and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith), I was, if I was lucky, Sabrina (Kate Jackson) and if no boys were around I was relegated to be Boswell or Charlie. Other girls wanted to go to Disney movies when they played in theatres but for me, the princesses in those stories were b-o-o-oring.
I was tall and gangly with chlorine bleached hair from my daily early morning swim practices. I didn't have a cute feature to call my own, hair that refused styling and besides, I was generally disdainful of all things girly. I refused to own, or wear, pink or purple anything.
Just about the time I was starting to look to adult women to figure out who I was going to become, Star Wars released in theatres. I don't want to overstate it and say that it had a profound effect on my life. But it did. Kind of. I mean, Star Wars had a profound effect on all of us. Was there a boy in school who didn't draw death stars or shoot pens across paper in endless games of Star Wars (it didn't take computers and video games to make geeks)? Who didn't stand in line around the block, outside, to see this movie, often more than once. Star Wars was a pop culture phenom. THE event for our generation.
But for me, Princess Leia provided a pop culture figure I could aspire to be. I didn't have the hair or teeth or curves to be Farrah Fawcett. Not that I wanted to be, of course. But Princess Leia with her coiled, no nonesense hair and Joan of Arc robes was neither the over-sexualized nor the lobotomized female sidekicks prevalent as rolemodels to my generation.
And yet, we live in this world and are impacted by our society and the norms so often established by pop culture. We can't eliminate our culture, but we can look for positive role models within it. We can pray our daughters find a worthy character or celebrity to aspire to become, like Princess Leia, but that they also find a caring Christian woman to hold up a mirror to show our girls reflected through God's eyes.
In fact, maybe even us grown ups need in our lives caring Christian women. We need friends like Allison to reflect back to us who we are, and who we are in Christ.
I'd love to hear your experiences with pop culture heroes and heroines. Click on the "comments" to let share who you aspired to be when you were a child. Or let me know if you remember Conjunction Junction?
A special thanks to Lisa Richardson for her beautiful header. You're the best, Lisa!