When you can’t be with him
Be in his mind
Be a mind sticker

 

Don’t you want to have a good shape
He wants you with a good shape
Shape with Tab

 

Be a mind sticker

 

Imagine the tinkling of harp strings, a beautiful young woman frolicking through a bucolic lawn or giggling with her little girl. A saccharin-sweet voice begins to sing the lines above, then the gentle voice of a man speaks them, cajoling you to understand just how important it is for you to stick in his mind as you see a man at his desk, closing his eyes because he can’t help but think of his well-shaped woman at home.

Doesn’t it make you want to drink a Tab, girlfriend?

This was an actual commercial from the 1960s, though it feels straight out of a scene from Mad Men. You know how it goes, they’ve just screened the prototype of the commercial for the client and Peggy Olsen, the token woman in the room is asked, “So, Peggy, does that make you want to drink Tab?” While Peggy struggles through her own inner conflict about how to answer, all the men at the table are thinking about how perfectly it depicts Don Draper’s wife, Betty, the lucky duck. “Why can’t my wife be more like her?” they are thinking.

Cue the harp trills to the present day and, “Whew!” Aren’t we glad we’ve grown beyond that way of thinking? Ok, ladies, we know that we are still inundated with cues to perfect ourselves: diets, diet drinks, hair products, magical skin elixirs, fitness regimens, “medical” interventions and so on. But we have at least reached the point that we can feel free to be whatever shape we want to be, and our friends and significant others will generally (hopefully) support us in that truth.

So, what is it that makes a woman “mind-sticking” today? When my daughter was born, I knew that job number one for me, as her mother, was to teach her to feel strong and confident in herself, regardless of the myriad of perspectives I knew would surround her. We were ravenous readers and I was constantly searching for children’s books with strong female characters. “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch, in which the princess rejects the prince she is betrothed to marry when he insults her paper bag attire after she goes to great lengths to rescue him from the dragon, was one of our favorites. As was “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney, which tells the story of a woman who lives out her childhood goal to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful.

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But, our favorite one of all was “O’Sullivan Stew” by Hudson Talbott. Kate O’Sullivan is a clever and spunky young girl who lives with her father and brothers in the village of Crookhaven in Ireland. When the king’s guards take the local witch’s beautiful stallion to cover her taxes, none of the villagers come to her aid, as they find her to be a little odd.

In her rage she curses the town to horrible circumstances, so Kate decides that she must travel to the kingdom to get the horse back and save her village. She ends up imprisoned by the king, along with her father and brothers, and offers to tell the king tremendous stories of grand adventure in exchange for releasing each of them. The king is captivated by her tales, as is the reader, and in the end he falls in love with her, releases them all and escorts them back to Crookhaven along with the beautiful stallion. The witch gives her the stallion in gratitude, and when the king asks her to marry him, Kate tells him she might do that but first she must see the world on her new steed, and she rides off into the sunset.

Something tells me that she stuck in his mind, and the minds of her neighbors, for a long time to come, and it had nothing to do with her shape.

These were the kinds of women that I wanted to be, and the kinds of women that I wanted my daughter to emulate. I had done my share of adventuring before she came along, mind you. With her father, I had hiked most of the Appalachian Trail and traveled the length of the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers, from the spring to the ocean, by canoe. And we even took her, at the age of three, on a month-long journey following the Etowah River from its source to its end where it joins with the Oostanaula River in the heart of Rome to form the Coosa River. By the end of the trip she knew how to sleep in the woods, how to bail rainwater from the canoe as we paddled through a storm, and how to know a Pileated Woodpecker by its call.

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But it wasn’t just adventure that I wanted her to know. There are so many women in my background who accomplished great, sometimes small, things from their very own spot in a traditional home.

The several generations of women in my family before me had mostly been homemakers, but the heroic ways in which they cared for their families were mind-sticking tales of their own. My tiny aunt raised two boys that towered over her, and her biscuits were so delicious that I would toddle far too close to the oven when I was young in anticipation of their hot and flaky goodness. She worked in a school cafeteria feeding hundreds of children a day, and came home to feed these growing boys with as much nurture and love as anyone could muster. My own mother was a master homemaker and made an Olympic sport out of the task of room mother. One year, she handmade 30-plus fabric footballs in our school colors for my classmates and me to autograph in our last year together in elementary school. Mind-sticking heroines surround us, if we are paying attention.

While I was raising my daughter with those strong storybook stars, I was enjoying membership in a book club that met in the Ford Living Room at Berry College every month, and we only read Southern female authors. Over the years that I was a part of that group we read some wonderful novels, all with the perspective of women like us. But, “like us” was a pretty broad term. The group was filled with women of all different ages, backgrounds and experiences. I was one of the youngest in my late 20s, and our oldest were probably in their 60s. It was a wonderful opportunity to be influenced by these strong women from our community as we read stories about strong women of all ages facing tremendous struggles and thrilling adventures, written by strong women who knew their voice, spoken in the same accent as ours.

These are the kinds of women I plan to introduce you to in the coming months in this column. The women of our community that you may or may not be familiar with, who live out interesting and mind-sticking stories, both great and small. My daughter is now a sophomore at Georgia Tech studying Environmental Engineering and rowing for the GT Crew Team. She is already a strong and heroic woman in her own right, in my opinion, and I believe that it is the modeling of the many strong women in her life that has shown her what she can do. We are all capable of tremendous great or small things that will stick in the minds of those around us, in the way that we all should hope to.

What are you doing to be a mind-sticker?

*The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.