Growing up, I had a very clear idea of what the life of a successful, mature, grown-up woman should look like. Marriage, kids, a nice house, a good job; the full picture. The TV shows and movies that I watched painted teenagers and 20 somethings as fun-loving, single, and in the midst of figuring out their lives. This was ‘ok’ and ‘charming’, the 20 something female is allowed to slip up, to fail, to choose the wrong career path or partner. As long as she figures it all out by 30 she’s on track for a successful life.
But when it came to 30 and 40 something women, they were either happily settled down with all the craziness and adventure behind them, or, a complete and utter failure. I hate this. Hate that the media, fully aware of its vital role in society and the shaping of minds, has consistently painted the ‘successful female life’ in a linear and constricted fashion. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite films and series are centred around the ‘pathetic’ 30 something heroine. Bridget Jones, for example, one of my all-time favourites, depicts Bridget, a single woman in her early 30’s in the midst of figuring out her career and dating life as a comical character. While there is no denying her warm and loveable personality, we are supposed to laugh at Bridget not with her, and this never sat well with me. I thought Bridget’s friends seemed loyal and lovely, her London apartment cozy and eclectic, and the adventures she got up to fun and enjoyable. There is really nothing about Bridget’s life that is off track or tragic, yet somehow, the plot manages to paint it that way. It wasn’t until I watched Sex in the City for the first time at the probably too early, age of 13, that my idea of what defined the successful life of a maturing woman completely changed.
There is no denying that Sex in the City is a show filled with unrealistic stereotypes and some dated ideas on sexuality. However, I find that this early 2000’s series is also littered with bits of wisdom ahead of its, and even our time. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte live their thirties out in New York City through a series of fabulous and sometimes disastrous adventures. The learning, the messing up, the fun; it is far from over for these women. The series does not make the four friends out to be sad, washed up, or failed; quite the opposite. They are admirable and confident role models who prove it is more than ok to veer from the traditional ‘female path’. After watching the show, I felt a huge surge of empowerment and relief. I get to dictate my future, I get to decide what success looks like for me. Here are some of the lines that I live by.
“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates, and guys are just people to have fun with.” – Carrie.
“Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” – Carrie.
“I love you, but I love me more.” – Samantha.
“I want to enjoy my success, not apologize for it.” – Miranda
The words spoken by independent, successful, and happy thirty and forty-something women opened a world of possibilities. I no longer associate a happy and fulfilling life with falling in love getting married at a certain age; if it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, there are so many wonderful parts of life to create a full picture. Thanks to Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, the conventions of relationships and a successful life were broken for me, proving the impact role models like these four independent women can have on young people’s ambitions and dreams.
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