For as long as I can remember I idolized Wonder Woman, I mean who didn’t?!? Those red boots! I was only seven when The New Adventures of Wonder Woman debuted starring Lynda Carter as the beautiful Diana Prince who transformed into Wonder Woman when an injustice presented itself. Every week I was captivated as she bravely saved the world while looking like a goddess. Admittedly her wardrobe was quite racy for the times, but somehow she ended up looking graceful and classy and never broke a sweat as she was kicking ass every week.
It was the 70’s, and a developing feminist movement was underway. Gloria Steinem was challenging traditional roles and how women should look, act, dress and want for themselves. Wonder Woman graced the cover of Ms. Magazine in 1972, and for some this was controversial. Why did the first female superhero have to be half-clothed? What male superhero wears a speedo and tank top, ever? The intersectionality of feminism and sexuality was polarizing.
For little girls, our reverence could not be clouded with controversy. Diana Prince epitomized grace and strength. Diana’s chosen career as an army nurse was an archetypal nurturing maternal role, yet she worked her way up the ranks to military intelligence. When she transformed into Wonder Woman with the spinning twirl where her perfect chignon gives way to lustrous long curls, it was pure magic and evoked emotional responses across generations of women.
Throughout history, super-hero’s male or female offered exotic parallels to real life and invaluable lessons. There was always a nemesis and a mission. Impossible challenges are tackled with obvious resolve and perseverance. Wonder Woman pursued truth and justice with an empathetic slant. And, of course, the good guy/girl always wins.
Wonder Woman, a mythical goddess and enduring feminist icon, arrived in my life when I needed her the most. At seven years old my wide-eyed innocent view of the world was shattered with my first dose of mean girl drama. I could escape for an hour a week watching Wonder Woman conquer evil, but even at seven, I knew it was pretend. You see, the real superhero throughout my whole life is my mom.
One morning, without any warning, my two best friends decided I was no longer worthy of their friendship and completely cut me out of their orbit. I could not escape the sadness and isolation as we were school mates and neighbors. It was catastrophic and lasted for three long months. I fantasized that my new BFF Diana Prince would show up at school and handle these twits. It was my mom who tried to help me navigate my first experience with girl drama, teaching me the power of taking the high road and not letting them see me sweat. In hindsight two compelling life lessons
My mom calmly strategized an intervention with my two nemeses with a brilliant plot to lure one of my former besties (the slightly more empathetic one) over for a “meeting” in our playhouse with a carefully written note left in her desk. This tipped the power balance, and the other bestie had to fall in line, and we were back on track within 24 hours. As I reflect back on the drama, I learned not to react emotionally when a crisis presents itself and to face it head-on. The build-up to that fateful meeting in my playhouse was fraught with anxiety as I contemplated the tragic irrationalities of life. I wanted to change schools, hide in my room, but with my mom’s guidance, I conquered and came out feeling empowered.
Post-crisis, my mom created for me the most magnificent Wonder Woman costume. Crafted out of blue terry cloth shorts, a hand-sewn red tube top and gold headband. The piece de résistance… magic gold wrist cuffs which she pulled off my dad’s old curling trophies, sized perfectly for my wrists. My mom helped get me out of a mess, gave me empowerment tools unbeknown to me, and then makes me a costume just for fun. Talk about superhero!
All of the qualities I worshipped in Wonder Woman, my mom quietly possessed in the trenches with her family every day. Strong, graceful, beautiful, intelligent, hardworking and an accidental feminist.