What I Learned from Carrie Bradshaw



I stumbled across Simone's beautiful blog about a year ago. Her images of fashion and beaches and beautiful people were like a breath of fresh air. Her quotes inspired me. I immediately became addicted to The Bottom of the Ironing Basket. So I was quite honored when Simone asked me to guest post. I am much better with words than images, so I was a bit apprehensive that perhaps my blog style would not fit. Simone assured me to just "be myself" and so I decided that perhaps recycling one of my old posts...one inspired by a high-fashion beautiful woman might be the perfect fit. I wrote it the weekend of the big "SATC 2" movie opening.
Simone, thanks for letting me visit!
~Liz from ...but then I had kids
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When it came to "Sex and the City," I was a late bloomer.
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At the time, I didn't have HBO...
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...or a life.
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I was married to an incredibly repressive and dull man. I wore beige a lot. I didn't go out and I owned a couple of "proper" heels.
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My friends at the time were rabid SATC fans (as were most women). I finally got tired of sitting with them at lunch and trying to figure out who this "Big" was and why he was, depending on the week, either an incredible asshole or the man of their dreams.
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So, eventually, when the show was probably on Season 3 or 4 in "real time," I borrowed Season 1. And here is where the old cliche comes in: and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Carrie Bradshaw instantly became My Favorite TV Character Ever. I loved her quirkiness, her honesty, her flaws. I loved the way she'd muss up her already unapologetically frizzy hair when she was getting ready to walk into a place. I loved that she was a writer...that she sat down every day to write something that was honest, funny, poignant, and completely irreverant within its significance. I loved the way she strutted down the street in her stilettos, fur coat hanging open over a perfectly mismatched over-the-top outfit, a seeming powerhouse of self-confidence, yet floundered every day as she tried to figure out who she loved and what she wanted.
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Shortly after meeting Ms. Bradshaw, I found myself standing in a dressing room with my mother, trying on dresses for a very close friend's upcoming wedding. Everyone I knew socially and professionally would be there. I was trying to choose between two dresses: a lovely and safe little black number and a red, sparkly show-stopper.
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They both looked good, but the red one..? It was like no dress I'd ever seen before. It was delicate, unfinished layers of tulle and sequins and hand-beaded flowers. When I put it on, I felt like a cross between a ballerina and a princess.
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"I love this dress," I sighed longingly, trying it on for the third time.
"Why don't you get that one, then?" my mother asked.
"Because people will notice me when I walk in."
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People will notice me when I walk in.
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I didn't even think about it before I said it. It just came out.
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My truth.
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I didn't even know I felt that way.
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And I knew, instantly, that I had to have the dress. I had to wear the dress. I knew it was something Carrie would wear.
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That dress, that moment, was a turning point for me. And although I can happily say it is now 3 sizes too big, it still hangs in my closet. It still sparkles. It still makes me smile. It still makes me feel strong and pretty and confident. It still makes me want to be noticed.
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But Carrie Bradshaw didn't just teach me how to rediscover my old self, the one who liked colorful clothes, big hair, and stand-out outfits. Fashion was definitely an important cast member of "Sex and the City," but the show was really about friendship. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha were four very different women. Whenever they sat down for breakfast at the diner or cocktails at the bar, they disagreed about a lot of things: Miranda's cynical practicality was a stark contrast to Charlotte's idealistic optimism, which went totally against Samantha's independent promiscuity. Yet, through every situation, they supported, understood, accepted, and embraced. Each woman was who she was, unapologetically and elegantly. And that, in turn, is how their friendships were: unapologetic and elegant.
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"Sex and the City" never celebrated the too-often seen and accepted bitchiness among women. The four of them respected each other...even when they were disagreeing or fighting (remember when Miranda found out Carrie was leaving NY to move to Paris with Aleksandr?! or when Charlotte initially refused to offer Carrie money to help her with her apartment?!?). They were honest, though. It was not simply acceptance with silence. It was acceptance with attempts to understand (or sometimes persuade in a different direction).
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Women everywhere have watched this show and wanted to be like these four women. But it's easy to charge in the three digits for a pair of designer shoes, or to make plans to go out for Cosmos with three fabulously dressed friends. It is not so easy to truly be those women: strong, independent, supportive, loyal, honest, and respectful towards each other.
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And, of course, in addition to the fashion and the friendship, there were the men. Every one of us who watched the show had a favorite. Personally, I was always more of an Aidan-kinda-girl. I have never been into men with Armani suits and perfectly coiffed hair. But in the end, even I had to admit that Big was the man for Carrie. No matter how nice (Aidan) or wordly (that hateful Aleksandr) the men were, she needed to be--as all of us should--with the one who understood her, who let her be Carrie, and who loved her for it.
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"...the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."
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That man I used to be married to went out with the beige wardrobe. I am happy to say that I found my Big...although he owns one suit he'd rather not wear and his hair is more Aidan 1.0 than ever coiffed or cut, he loves the Me I love. And I know I could never have settled for less.
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So yes, Carrie Bradshaw has been a fashion icon and a source of enormous entertainment for many of us. But for me, and I am sure for so many others, she (and the other characters on the show) taught us a lot about life, love, friendships, and ourselves. As I get ready to slip on my Jimmy Choos (still haven't managed to get a pair of Manolos...) and go have a Cosmopolitan before watching the SATC sequel, I think of all I have learned from this fictional character, and tonight, I will raise a toast to Carrie and her friends for having taught me about so much more than just great shoes.

29 comments:

  1. What a great story! Cheers to you for finding, and loving, the real you!

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  2. Liz you write wonderfully. Funnily enough I never really wore heels until I got divorced, then suddenly I saw what I'd been missing. And yes, I wore beige too - but now it's definitely banned from the wardrobe. I'm a different person, the one I was always meant to be too!

    That was such a delightful post, I'm thrilled you guested here and now I'm off to find out more at your blog. See you over there... Lisa

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  3. I absolutely love this post and will be checking out your blog!

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  4. I love this story... thanks so much for sharing. I think that is what is so amazing about SATC, its ability to brighten women up and make them want to be bold. It's almost like it gives us a small self esteem boost :) I love it too... for just the same reasons!

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  5. I liked your story! I was also late to SATC, even later than you - I finally watched season one when the first film came out haha! So interesting to know how SATC has changed women's lives... and I'm so glad you got that red dress :-)

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  6. wow, i love this;you write beautifully. I felt like i was sitting down w/ one of my favorite magazines,but better; a little more heartfelt :)

    i'm def heading over to check out your blog

    <3 gina

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  7. What I great post. It feels like you are expressing my thoughts about the show, only much more eloquently! I can't wait to visit your blog.

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  8. What a fabulous story! Like Carrie,I had some fabulous friends that made me take a honest look at my life (10 years ago) and make some major changes! I've never been happier! Congrats to you for having the courage to do the same! xxoo :)

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  9. Awesome story, and I agree. Isn't Simone the best?! Her blog is always so refreshing.

    xo M

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  10. oh, I love this. It's not always easy to turn pop culture into something literary and poignant and true. But you did. Sending it to some friends right now.

    p.s. you should check out The Red Dress Club ... I think your story would fit right in. (email me if you'd like the link)

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  11. Love this post! So honest and well written. I too am a SATC fan and love the way you've summed up the impact of this show on your own life - brilliant!!

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  12. What a beautiful eye opening post. Thanks.

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  13. what a wonderful woman of wise & thoughtful words you are....i completely loved reading your story and am making another tea and heading over to visit you....
    SATC has had such a huge impact on women of our generation- but it is the conviction of each of the characters that rings in our minds as we covert their wardrobes- partic that of the gorgeous carrie b.
    great post!
    simone would love this- and no doubt find an image of your life-changing red dress to accompany it...
    melissa

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  14. What a fabulous story - I was able to relate well to many of the things that you said having been through a difficult marriage (and divorce) myself.
    I love the things that you have taken away from the show, the qualities of the women that you listed and the great point about finding someone who will love you for the you that you love.
    This was such an inspirational post and I am so glad to have read it.
    Melissa

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  15. Dear Liz, I love your story. I'm delighted you rediscovered yourself, and so you should! Thanks for sharing.

    There's a tag at mine for the lovely Simone when she's back xx

    http://fashionsmostwanted.blogspot.com/2010/08/getting-to-know-you-tag.html

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  16. I'm with you, I think SATC was a revelation for most women, myself included. Once my friend loaned me the series I just couldn't stop watching! Each episode was mesmerizing. The openness, the freedom, the sexuality ... just amazing! I'm glad you found a little Carrie inside of yourself. I personally was looking for a bit more Samantha with my husband. LOL!

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  17. Hi Liz, simply a beautifully written post. So thought provoking and truthful - well done. I will definitely be popping along to your blog to find out more! xxx

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  18. A well written and inspiring post....thank you for sharing.

    I like the point the dress still makes you smile...sounds like it was opening of a new chapter.

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  19. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC Liz.....thank you so much for writing this :)

    As I know I have told you before, you are a wonderful writer...I am so pleased that you agreed to do a guest-post for me....I loved this one :)
    xoxo

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  20. Love that you wrote this post and shared it with all of us . . . absolutely loved it!! . . . liz

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  21. I don't believe anyone anywhere has said it as well. What an amazing, beautifully written piece of work you have delighted us with today. Simone knows so many talented & lovely people, so it is absolutely delightful to find you here today. Well done!

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  22. I just LOVED this post, so lovely to meet you. I really appreciate the writer in you ... fabulously put!
    xoxo DJ

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  23. Ahhh I loved reading your story. I'm glad to left the beige and be came the fabulous butterfly xx

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  24. Carrie is my icon!! Great post, will be checking out your blog. e xxxx

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  25. Great post! A good read, thats it I need to watch the last movie and blog about it x

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  26. Liz... loved this post the first time I read it and loved it again the second time! xx

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  27. What a gorgeous blog you have here! So happy I found you!

    Luvs!

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  28. Love this! Isn't it funny how fictional characters can bring out our true selves?! Inspire us? Crazy! Loved your story, thank you for sharing!

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  29. What a fantastic guest post!

    *applauds*

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