Here’s my rule of thumb: every quarter century or so, without fail, change your hairstyle, rethink your makeup, update your wardrobe and, as part of this makeover, identify a new role model for yourself. I admit that adult women should be sufficiently comfortable with themselves to have matured beyond the need for a guru. But in every phase of our lives we’re covering new ground (at least new to us), so it’s helpful to focus on somebody whose attitude, philosophy and lifestyle can serve to point us in the right direction.
In search of my own role model I looked at lists of the most influential women of our day and concluded that the logical choice was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female Justice of the Supreme Court and its first Jewish woman. Prior to becoming a Supreme, Ginsburg was a federal appellate court judge, a law school professor and devoted herself to issues of gender equality, among many other notable endeavors. Through all of this she struggled with the challenges of motherhood and a legal career while battling two kinds of cancer.
Perfect choice, right? Well, not quite. For one thing, this woman is so extraordinary that merely contemplating her heroic achievements convinces me that my own legal career, indeed my entire life, has been an exercise in mediocrity.
But there’s a more important point, I realized. Justice Ginsburg and other women of her caliber are ideal examples for aspiring young women who are seeking someone to look up to as they climb the ladder to success. But given my own career trajectory, there’s no point in having someone to look up to; what is needed, rather, is someone to lead me through the treacherous twists and turns down, down, down.
Besides, if every time I was faced with a particular moral or ethical dilemma I had to ask myself, “What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg do?” the answer, I’m afraid, would invariably be: “Take the high road.” But at this point in my life I might sometimes want to take a few side streets, maybe even a back alley. And I wouldn’t want to disappoint (even in my imagination) a member of the Supreme Court just because I occasionally chose to express my inner snarkiness. My objective is to get better at accepting who I am, not feel guilty about who I will never be.
So I further refined my criteria: my role model’s life and standards should not be so exemplary that I feel like a miserable failure by comparison. In fact, it would help if she were a tad morally suspect herself.
At this point I stumbled across a young woman known as “Snooki”, who rose to fame as a member of the cast of the reality TV show Jersey Shore. Though I was not familiar with the show, I found I was able to take the measure of this unusual young lady based on various of her quotes published on the internet. I decided Snooki was a female very comfortable in her own skin and someone I could relate to better than a Supreme Court Justice — her tastes and moral and ethical standards seem to be far more… accessible. I will share with you my thoughts about Snooki as I read the following snippets of dialog excerpted from various episodes of the show:
“I’m not pissed off that they put pickles under my bed as a joke, but I’m pissed off that Mike and Pauly wasted two pickles.” (She shares my concern about waste of our natural resources.)
“A crow comes and it starts quacking at us… or not quacking, what does a crow do?” (She has an inquiring mind.)
“Vinny’s like my big brother, I love him.. but usually you don’t have sex with your big brother.” (She has strong moral scruples.)
“One [fireman] is tall, tanned.. & he looked Italian, so I woulda’ smushed that, yes.” (We share similar taste in men.)
“Snooki: I’m not white. [other female cast member]: What are you? Snooki: Tan.” (She is comfortable with her racial/ethnic background.)
“Word of the day: sympathetic. That’s a big word.” (She is always seeking to improve her mind.)
“I can’t see any ice creams, I can’t see any customers, cuz I’m a ****in’ Smurf. (She appears to be around my height.)
“I don’t go tanning anymore because Obama put a 10% tax on tanning. I feel like he did that intentionally for us, like McCain would never put a 10% tax on tanning.. because he is pale and he would probably wanna be tanned.” (She is politically astute.)
Well, everyone has to make their own choice, but for me the search is over – I’m having my bracelet made up: “What Would Snooki Do?” And I’m pretty sure that whatever may be the answer to that question, it won’t be: “Take the high road.”
Article and illustration by Alisa Singer.
About the Author
Alisa Singer’s humorous essays have appeared in a variety of print and online newspapers and magazines across the country and in Canada. She is the author of various gift books designed to entertain and amuse baby boomers. Her newest book, When a Girl Goes From Bobby Sox to Compression Stockings…she gets a little cranky, is available at www.Lulu.com. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website: www.AlisaSinger.com or contacting her at ASingerAuthor@gmail.com.