Photo: John Ritter
Raise your hand if you remember that 1970s anthem "I Am Woman." For those of you who were too busy trying to grow out your horrible Jane-Fonda-in-Klute shag to pay attention, the soaring declaration that made women all over America want to rally against injustice, macramé a belt, and stop serving beef Stroganoff at dinner parties went like this: "If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong! I am invincible! I am woman!"
My anthem would probably go, "If I have to, I can maybe do lunch. I am on Lexapro! I am responsible for Eleanor, the class hamster! I am woman!" This is the kind of lyric that explains why I am so seldom called upon to produce a hit single, but we'll take a much closer look at that in my upcoming "What's Celine Dion Got That I Haven't Got?" column. This one is about a few good women.
I like women. I like them as much as or more than I like almost anybody. But the women I like best aren't always strong, and they're certainly not invincible. They're creative, they're idiosyncratic, and they're around if you need them. They complain, they console, and they can shop their way through virtually any crisis. They know how to raise hell and they know how to raise children. They can spot a scam, a lousy doctor, and a crummy boyfriend in under 10 seconds. They've perfected the withering stare that makes a nasty salesperson, flight attendant, or coworker fold like an origami swan. My favorite women may feel bad about their necks, but they feel pretty damn good about their legs. They do not trash their ex-husband's new squeeze monkey even if she happens to be eight months younger than their eldest daughter; they limit the amount of money spent sucking up to stepchildren; they try really hard to wish everyone well. They've never met a carbohydrate they didn't want to have a close personal relationship with. They brake for sex, sleep, and solitude, cashmere, caffeine, and Joan Didion. They've got nerves of steel, the courage of their convictions, and excellent footwear. They're sugar and spice and everything I aspire to. They remain cautiously optimistic.
Here, in no particular order, are a few examples of the best and the brightest females I've come across.
She might have been born a coal miner's daughter, but Loretta Lynn raised herself up to be an audacious provocateur who's spent nearly 50 years turning out serrated country classics like "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (with Lovin' on Your Mind)," "The Pill," and "You Ain't Woman Enough (to Take My Man)." Her 2004 hit, Van Lear Rose (in which she teamed with White Stripes front man Jack White), came at age 69. When I'm 69, I plan to be watching reruns of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and obsessing over my cholesterol...actually, that's pretty much what I'm doing at 46.
Long before those gorgeous Dove girls stripped down for the camera, real women of every age, shape, and color dressed up in this designer's easy, modern clothes. Eileen Fisher seems to have invented Garanimals for grown-ups—everything works with everything else and you don't need to sell your bone marrow to buy a skirt. Were it not for my sister Eileen, I'd be forced to walk around naked but for an old pair of Doc Martens—and, trust me, nobody wants that.
We Hear You!