I grew up longing to be a “superwoman.” But that’s what everyone encouraged me to do, after all. “Study hard” my parents said, “so you can grow up and get a good job.” “Speak up and assert yourself,” my pediatrician used to tell me, “that’s key to having a successful career,” she’d say. And my teachers used to always encourage me to compete with the boys; “don’t be intimidated by them, Sylvia, go for it!” they said. The silent partners in my rearing (you know, TV and magazines), always made it abundantly clear that I was nothing at all, if I wasn’t both stunning and stylish (at the same da*@ time!).
That’s what they fed me. I ate it all up. I wanted desperately to be beautiful, brilliant and highly successful with great hair and a banging’ body to boot.
So when I saw the Akil Productions original movie, Being Mary Jane, I was absolutely awestruck. I looked at her and thought “OMG I KNOW that girl.” She was me; she had my values, she had goals and she even my closet (yes, my clothes really are that fly!) She was working towards everything everyone tells little girls they need to work towards if they ever wanted to be happy; she is trying to be super. And so as spell-bound as I was by Mary Jane’s familiarity, I found myself being even more desperate to know how the story ends. I needed to know if Mary Jane, depicted on-screen by actress Gabrielle Union, ever finds someone to rescue her.
Her mother is dying, her family is trifling’ but worst of all, she’s single, never married with a ticking biological clock and no promising prospects for a life partner in sight. And she’s desperate to find someone to be there for her, like she’s been there for everyone else in her life.
I don’t know about you, but I felt the sister. When I was growing up, everyone kept telling me how important it was that that I am ready to save the world, but, nobody ever said anything about who was supposed to save me.
I’m watching Union’s very authentic performance as Mary Jane and wondering who rescues superwomen from the needy relations and fake friends who come along with a well-paying gig? Who swoops in to protect them from trifling co-workers who label her “aggressive” and “angry” for asserting herself in the workplace OR from the sorry supervisor who’s secretly terrified of her potential? Who shields superwomen from jealous, insecure men threatened by her success? Huh? Who will save these beautiful women from all of these ugly realities of her life? Who saves superwoman?
I wish I knew. I do know, though, that Being Mary Jane the series premiers on BET in January. I for one will be tuning in to find out.