I think I’ve seen this quote badly photoshopped over a picture of high heels or a strand of pearls more times than I can count. This trite quote from the queen of fashion herself, Coco Chanel, has plagued About Me blurbs of women of all ages. It’s been reinvented (“A girl should be two things: classy and a Delta Gamma”) and stuck on bumper stickers, bedroom walls, and t-shirts.
If I could go back in time, and meet the infamous Coco herself, I would not throw myself at her feet, thanking this fashion god for the invention of classy and fabulous things that the average woman can’t afford, or even pull off.
I would tell her to take her opinion of what girls should be and shove it.
Maybe a little more delicately than that. But that is what I would do, and here’s why:
Being classy is a great thing to be. Everyone should be classy at the appropriate times. This includes sitting ladylike while wearing a skirt, and conducting yourself in an elegant manner when you are having lunch with the President of the United States or someone like your grandmother. The definition of “classy” should also include mention of “not showing your bra straps” and “when you see a bitchy girl, smile and kill her with kindness.”
Being fabulous is also one of my top ten things to be. Look good, feel good. Also in this definition would be something about not wearing too much animal print, and cooling it with the Vera Bradley bags.
However, for Ms. Chanel to imply that of all the things in the world to be, girls must be just these two things is absolutely ludicrous, and insulting to girls like me.
Because I am not always classy or fabulous 100 percent of the time. Sometimes I just want to sit around in running shorts (even though I don’t run) and eat ice cream and whine about my life for a bit. This behavior is neither classy nor fabulous in any definition of the word.
And sometimes, in those rare instances when my shoes match my outfit, my hair is cooperating, I took the time to do my makeup, and I am conducting myself in an elegant manner, I want to be more than just classy and fabulous.
I want to be ambitious, and smart. I want to be talented, and messy, and funny. I want to climb trees (both literally and metaphorically) and tell people off that have done me wrong. I want to know how to change a tire, and how to tell amazing stories.
It is stupid, shallow quotes like this one, that have probably been taken out of context (and most likely been attributed to Marilyn Monroe once or twice) that make me so angry to be a twentysomething woman.
BECAUSE WE ARE ALL BUYING IT!
We are supposed to be the savvy generation that is in-touch with the outside world. We are the segment of the population that is most likely to vote. We have instant access to the entire world. We can become self-educated on foreign policy, economics, another language. We are the generation of women that are fighting for the right to be paid the same as our male counterparts (a blog topic for another day). There are women in every branch of our government, women in the Middle East taking off their burqas and protesting in the streets.
Yet we are telling ourselves that we can only be these two things. We look ridiculous and superficial, and we are allowing other people to treat us as such.
All because a French woman said a stupid thing many years ago.