Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Searching for Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman. My hero (ine).

I have been not-so-secretly obsessed with Wonder Woman since I was four years old, when I got to be her for Halloween. It remains my favorite of many wildly creative Halloween costumes (man, my Mom could sew), and included red rainboots, stars-and-stripes Underoos, and aluminum foil magic bracelets. I felt powerful. At four years old. I never wanted to take it off.

It didn't matter that I was a tiny towhead better suited for a Heidi costume: Wonder Woman was my girl. I loved her.

Wonder Woman has followed me throughout my life, and once lived on a huge poster on the screened-in porch of a cabin in the North Carolina mountains that I shared with six other 20s-ish women. We were outdoor educators (basically a fancy way of saying camp counselors and trip leaders), most just out of college, working through the Fall and early Winter on group programs for middle and high schoolers--in hiking, biking, team-building, paddling, climbing, you name it. The cabin wasn't insulated (in fact, the windows were covered with screens, which is interesting in October in the mountains), and we slept in our sleeping bags in a row of bunkbeds, tobaggons on our (sometimes wet) heads and double layers of socks on our feet. On the other side of the cabin lived the male counselors, and though they were a bit smellier than we were (only a bit), we were a big, happy family, silly and raucous and entirely invested in working with kids and teenagers and living an outdoor life.

I have to pause a moment. Man, I loved that life.

Okay. So, Wonder Woman. One of my buddies in the cabin stuck the poster up on our screened porch, so we could see it every time we left and entered the cabin. Wonder Woman began to feel like a welcoming committee, after sometimes days of being out with 6th or 7th graders, or high schoolers, trekking through the Appalachian backcountry. I started imaginging that she smiled at me, that she'd give me imaginary high-fives when I'd return sweaty and dirty and happily exhausted.

Today, as a 30s-ish woman, I've got Wonder Woman magnets on my fridge, and a ridiculously cool Wonder Woman mug (I'm actually drinking out of it as I write this). It says, in bold, slanting black letters, that "This Amazon Princess Will Not Bow to Any Man!" Awesome.

I'm even teaching my two year-old daughter to say "WONder WOman!" with the same inflection as the '70s TV show theme song. And if you ask her who her favorite superhero is, she'll tell you, just like that.

I am so proud.

But lately, I find myself reaching for my Wonder Woman mug far more often (I used to just drink from her on Friday mornings, when I was feeling especially sassy). I need her magic bracelets, her gold headband, and certainly her invisible plane, now more than ever.

Every modern woman, I think, attempts to be Wonder Woman. Most of us have jobs, families, avocations, homes, and some of us have kids. Though the balancing act of being a modern woman has become a sort of cliche, especially in modern media, we're juggling all these aspects of our lives like a Ringling Brothers' clown riding a unicycle center stage and tossing up tomatoes. The spotlights are blaring and hot, and beyond the ring of light the bleachers are filled with the faces of our family members and friends. We don't want to drop anything.

I don't have a solution for this. If I did I'd sell it on t-shirts. At the moment I'm caught up in my own wonderful but bone-tiring roles of writer, teacher, mother, wife, student--and I don't feel that I'm doing anything well.

And so, for the thousandth time in my life--including senior year of college, when in order to graduate, I desperately needed to pass a math test that looked like hieroglyphics; or, for that matter, when I was in labor with my daughter for 20 hours--I am calling on Wonder Woman. I need her back in my life, go-go boots, booty shorts, bustier and all.

Because she's my favorite superhero. Because she deflects bullets with her wrists. Because, I think, she gets me.


Alison said...


What is the best part of Wonder Woman? Is it the boots? I really need those boots.

Katherine S. Crawford said...

I can never decide, Alison: boots or bracelets? I've got a collection of silver and gold cuffs I think all come back to my fascination with WW!