Growing up, I didn’t look up to celebrities and famous people. I looked up to my little sister and craved favor from my mother and my friends. I’m not sure why, but that’s just how I was. I had a crush on Jasmine Guy and liked Karen White and Janet Jackson as a child, and I especially loved Alanis Morrisette in my middle school years, but I did not try to dress like them, talk like them, or embody their personalities. Now that I’m pushing 30, for some reason I find that I’m looking up to certain famous women more and more. I realized recently that they all have something in common: they have qualities that my mother and her sisters possess. I love that! This post at Bitch Magazine got me thinking about who I look to for inspiration as an adult.
My mother definitely goes at the top of the list. My parents got divorced when I was 4 and my sister was 2, and while I have memories of some of the really bad arguments they got into, I barely remember the transition from Daddy living at home to Daddy living somewhere else. She raised us by example: she didn’t and doesn’t talk about people behind their backs, she didn’t and doesn’t seek male approval (only the love of her husband, my step-dad Otis, whom I love), she didn’t and doesn’t have stupid-ass, Cosmo-ass magazines around the house, she wasn’t and isn’t petty, she didn’t and does not seek our friendship, and she didn’t and absolutely DOES NOT PUT UP WITH BULLSHIT. Yes! She’s the mother of mothers, and she got it from her mother, who got it from her mother. She looks like a fertility goddess these days. I told her that and she got ticked off. Anyone who compliments me about my deportment gets an earful about my mother these days.
I think there are two kinds of role models, though: the kind who you see yourself being like one day, and the kind that you admire and draw inspiration from. I am my mother on a genetic level and I have become her as an adult, with some extra-ness thrown in; we’re a lot alike, but not all the way. She’s the first kind of role model for me. There are other people – okay, women - that I’ve come to view as role models in my adulthood, and they inspire me to no end.
She was an adulteress. She met a man one day who did not judge her and she fell in love with him and left her old life behind. Who wouldn’t do so for love? Who wouldn’t love such a man? He was called Immanuel. To an outsider, she would have looked like a female seeking male approval, but I see her devotion as borne out of deep gratitude and true love, and she refused to feel ashamed about her past. No, I do not believe that she and “Jesus” got married and had a kid a la The DaVinci Code (that book was kinda dumb). I may not be the marrying type, but I don’t see anything wrong with sticking to the one you love, even if you’ll never have them physically. If you disagree, then you have never known love.
I almost cried when I couldn’t afford to go to her concert last year. I almost cried again when she cancelled her Coachella appearance this year. Grace Jones is IT. Her magnetism is palpable, and at 61 years old she’s still doing what Lady Gaga only wishes she could be (child don’t get me started – different post for a different day). Singer, fashion model, performance artist, actress, Mrs. Jones is my inspiration. I especially became more fascinated as I began to do more performance art myself. As you have probably guessed, VOS is no more, but I looked to Princess Grace to inform and embody my character. I did not copy anything she did; rather, I wanted to capture her spirit in what I was doing and turn in into something that was mine. One day I’ll have my chance to see her live, and I’ll kiss her feet. Favorite quote: “I also believe that all men must be penetrated…” from V Magazine interview
She’s sooooooo cool! I love her voice, I love her concepts, I love her openness and her loving heart! I love it that, just like Grace Jones, she’s an older artist who refuses to infantilize herself and dumb herself down just to appeal to a mainstream youth audience. I’ve never had the chance to see her live, but I hope I do one day. Pagan Poetry is one of my all-time favorite love songs and music videos, and I cry every time I hear it (don’t ever tell anyone that I’ve cried!). I think she could have done better as far as choosing a mate (I can’t stand the work of Matthew Barney), but hey… I’m still in love with two exes, one of whom can never enter the country again, so who am I to judge? I am no one. There’s something about the way that Bjork wears her heart on her sleeve, it makes me not ever want to be so cynical as to think myself above feelings and hope.
The first Peaches song I ever heard was her remix to Get Me Off by Bassment Jaxx back in 2002. I became obsessed, and I’ve been a loyal fan ever since. What I love about her is the fact that she unapologetically defines her own sexuality on her own terms. She doesn’t go for “conventional sexy” either (unlike the unoriginal, quite conventional Lady Gaga [let me stop]). Much like Grace Jones, her albums and persona are quite conceptual, and her music matches it. I got to see her up close and personal in concert last summer for the I Feel Cream tour, and it was MAGIC! And guess what? She personally gave me, out of all the people on the front row, an autographed drumstick. No, she didn’t hold her hand out and let people fight over it, she specifically looked at me, avoided other fans, and handed me the drumstick! *swooning again* Wanna see it? Here it go! ME!!!
This is the baddest homegirl out there. From her explosive first album Arular to her “controversial” (not to me) new music video for Born Free, this girl has got big balls. An artist, singer, graphic designer and daughter of a Tamil Tiger rebel, her music defies convention and is so much more than just ‘indie’: so much so that I am hard pressed to think of a genre for her music to fit in. And that’s awesome. I caught part of her set at Coachella in 2008 and her noise was righteous. I love how political her songs are (favorite= “World Town” from Kala), and they’re simultaneously danceable too. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! And not to press the matter too hard, but I love how she put Lady Gaga in her place! OK, I’m definitely going to have to do a Lady Gaga post next. All in all, if you don’t like M.I.A., you suck and you need some education. No, I will not apologize.
I don’t seek to emulate any of the above ladies. I don’t seek to dress like them, act like them, or take on their personalities. I seek to embody the best of their characteristics as a grown woman, and to live my life as honestly and with as much integrity. There’s something in all of these ladies that is found in my mother, my grandmother, and my aunties Chris, Inez, and Neat – I want to mash it all up and ingest it and let it spread to my cells and live my life accordingly.
That is all.