How does one become a grown assed woman? Well, there are steps that we can all take and make no mistake ladies, it is a becoming. One does not emerge, full blown. One becomes….. and that’s a much more serious notion than just happening. In order to become you must decide. It takes thought, planning, preparation and diligence.
As I have grown as a person and as a woman, I find myself looking to other women, who I admire, for guidance and inspiration. Most of these are women I know, but many are famously iconic. For me, one of my great role models is Jackie Kennedy. What was it about Jackie that made her so iconic and so timelessly inspiring?
It’s hard to know anything concrete – for all the speculation and fame she remained entirely silent. So instead of second hand words and anecdotes – of which there are so many – let’s instead look at actions in our quest. What did Jackie’s actions teach us about being a grown assed woman?
So here, gentle readers, is The Bee Charmer’s Guide to Being a Grown Assed Woman -starring Jackie Kennedy.
First, Jackie was beautiful. She wasn’t beautiful in the way of others. She was entirely beautiful because she was entirely herself. Throughout her public life, we can look at Jackie and see that she was not a slave to any trend – but her classic and simple style carried her – always. She made the sixties look as good as the seventies and the eighties. She aged with grace. She changed with the times and yet, something, something very real and inimitable to her, was always there. In short, her beauty and style transcended mere youth and passing time and crystalized into lasting, inspiring, intensely personal beauty. It was never contrived or overblown – it was simple and it was her. And why is Jackie’s beauty important? Her personal beauty should be important to us because it was clearly important to her. She was incredibly attentive to her clothing, her appearance. The style that she appeared to wear so effortlessly was, in fact, the product of work on her part – from the slimness of her figure to the tailoring of her clothes. She was never vulgar, never traded on skin and even in jeans and a sweater she was still unmistakably chic. And as we’ve said before, any grown assed woman that you admire for anything has worked for that admiration. Jackie’s beauty is not a superficial bit of fluff. It was a decision that she made. She decided to be beautiful and… she was.
Next, Jackie was incredibly intelligent. She was well educated, well read, well travelled. She spoke several languages. She read real books, big books, books with kick. And she used that intelligence and knowledge to affect real change. The restoration and preservation of the White House. Her contribution to supporting American art and artists. Her effective efforts to save national treasures like Grand Central Station. And by all accounts her ability to bring issues and concepts to her husband’s attention while he was President. The most effective advisors to the President are the ones we don’t know about and Jackie Kennedy was one of them. There are those who say that beauty and history and art are not important. Jackie’s example shows us just how important they are and how to take big ideas and intellectual concepts and put them to pragmatic use. Jackie’s example showed us more than a million words might – it showed us that grown assed women have big brains and can use them any way they see fit.
Third, Jackie taught us much about grace. She was a gracious hostess. She was a physically graceful woman, whether riding horses or serving State dinners. Her thank you notes are legendary. Her style was graceful. Her homes were graceful. Her mind was graceful. And it times of great national tragedy and unimaginable personal loss she carried herself and us with grace. She was a living, breathing model of strength and poise and maturity. In short, she didn’t conduct herself as a giggling floozy or the disinterested wife of a powerful man. She didn’t run around naked or drunk or dissolve into a puddle in the face of pressure, big crowds or adversity. She conducted herself with grace – like every grown assed woman should.
Fourth, Jackie is one of the most stunning examples of dignity I think that anyone could observe. When I was younger, I dismissed Jackie as a frivolous gold digger. As I’ve gotten older and come to know more about life, over and over I’ve turned to observe Jackie in those terrible days after her husband’s assassination. I refused to watch the Zapruder film for the longest time because I thought that it just might be too ghoulish to stand. But I broke down and watched it. On YouTube. In frame-by-frame-slow-motion. And what I saw is something that I don’t think I could live through. What I saw was a woman who was looking into her husband’s eyes – just inches from him, her hands on his body, when his head exploded – the moment that his life was ripped away. And then – my God – the dignity with which she managed to carry herself in the days that followed. Days when every eye in the world was on her. Standing there in front of the world with her husband’s blood all over her because she wanted them to see what they’d done. She was 34 years old…. And here’s the kicker (as if we need one) she had buried a child three months before that. And did she sell it? Did she give over what must have been her intense grief and fear for public consumption? Not only did she not do it then – she never did it. She NEVER shared that grief in any meaningful public way. But she did walk through those terrible days with the eyes of the world on her in a way that honored her husband, his position and hers. As our First Lady and John Kennedy’s wife she carried her office and her vows to the end and yet she kept all the things that were her own. I think she thought that the horrific invasion of having everyone else watch her husband die on television was quite enough. I think she was right. She could have melted into a puddle but she didn’t. She was a grown assed woman, y’all.
Finally, Jackie taught us about the value of privacy and discretion- values that we, as a society, seem to have lost. Does anyone think that there is any *thing* that is precious enough for Kim Kardashian not to sell if it would buy her just a little more celebrity? I don’t. But not Jackie. Jackie wanted exactly what she instructed her White House staff – “maximum politeness, minimum information.” That direct gaze, that public persona, those big sunglasses, those quiet words. Those were the things she chose to share while holding her dearest and most precious things most closely. She left this world on her own terms, with nary a tell-all or a scandal in sight. And yet, she never came across as disinterested or bitter at the world. She just got on with it. She lived her life in the public glare and yet – in a way that is still so private that we really know almost nothing about her. That is a thing that I admire – that she had the ability to know her own mind and know what was most important to her and to just live – without allowing that clamor of noise from outside to devour her. She kicked its ass, y’all, like a grown assed woman.