Hanging Out With Mary

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Happy International Women’s Day: To celebrate this event, I attended a dinner this week where Canadian comedian Mary Walsh spoke to over 700 people…in a black bra! There was nothing sexy about it.

What’s this about? Mary is an entertainer of a certain age, who changed her costume in front of the audience, as part of her routine. She simply stood there in her underwear with all her jiggly bits jiggling, as she kept right on talking. It was a hysterically funny and incredibly beautiful thing.

Just hanging out! Now I don’t normally get excited about seeing an middle-aged woman in her underwear. But the sheer comfort and confidence Mary displayed, with her muffin tops muffin-topping, and her cellulite and wrinkles winking at the crowd…well, it was a vision of divine intervention. Especially for anyone in the room wearing Spanks, body shapers, control top pantyhose and all things that pinch and squeeze us into unholy togetherness.

Starving for attention: What a refreshing change she was from just a few nights before, when I watched the beautiful people of Hollywood parade their botoxed, surgically altered Oscar worthy bodies up and down the red carpet. The fact that many of them can no longer smile…or eat for that matter…doesn’t mean a thing. All that does matter is for someone to ask, “Who are you wearing?”

Mirror, mirror: Our obsession with perfect bodies is like a social piranha, eating away every day at our confidence and self-respect. Yes, the magazine and movie industries have nurtured this obsession, but so do we, as we continue to buy and watch and compare…in the mirror. And as we age, as Mary is doing, graceful acceptance of our sagging bits and bobs is a rare gift. We need to learn to embrace our softer squishier parts without wrestling them into a spandex torture chamber or underwire harness.

Key note: Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to have as healthy a body as we can. That goes without saying. But if only we could be more like Mary…and let it all hang out with pride and humor. And while I enjoyed the entertainment value of Mary’s keynote address at the dinner, her confidence and charisma while standing there in her black bra and middle-aged body, said more to me about International Women’s Day than anything in her evening performance. It was downright liberating, even for a tough old broad like me.

Seriously: Mary made us laugh at her, with her and at ourselves. We need more women like that. And more real women who can stand in front of 700 people in a black bra ala muffin tops, and not give a damn. And as I am reminded by the sign on my desk, “She Who Laughs, Lasts.”

Pat Skene

See you between the lines.

14 responses »

  1. Wish I’d been there, but since I wasn’t I’m especially happy that you chose this subject for your blog. I loved your interpretation of what Mary’s black bra and uninhibited presentation symbolizes and especially loved the comparison to the botoxed aging celebrities. Mary’s message is by far the one I for one muffin topped senior citizen prefer. I’m sure she’d enjoy reading this blog, Kim Novak not so much. Keep up the great blogging!

    • Thanks Blanche…yes, it would do all of us some good to embrace our inner (and outer) muffin tops. Now that you mention it, it was amazing how they brought Kim Novak back from the crypt to appear on stage.

  2. I loved reading this story about your evening with Mary …..I can picture it all!
    Great contrast to the Oscar outfits! I bet Mary would have partaken in the pizza Ellen was passing around. Well done!

  3. Great post! It’s a gift to accept and enjoy our bodies without worrying about perfection. Too often, in my 60 plus years, I’ve fallen victim to marketing and/or fashion advice that left me thinking I needed to change my body. I’m not quite ready to give a presentation in my bra but I certainly spend much less time worrying about how my body looks and spend more time worrying about how I feel — both physically and mentally!

  4. BEAUTIFUL ! I often want to run down the street naked to boost my self esteem…if only I had Mary Walsh’s courage! I love her!

  5. So sad I missed this! Not because I am chomping at the bit to see all the bits and bobs but because I so genuinely admire and cherish the power women have on claiming and quietly understanding the grace and space between the lines of life. So glad you wrote this! From one tight black bra to another…thanks.

    • It’s a difficult understanding to acquire and I’m not there yet. But I’m trying. Perhaps if I walk around in my bra in the common areas of my condo, I could learn to become a beacon of empowerment. Then again, perhaps not. Thanks for reading.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. Made me smile. I’m proud of myself when I wear my swimming suit at the gym pool. It helps that the women’s locker room opens into the pool area!

  7. I am all for empowerment of women. However I do not think anyone male or female should go around without a covering of some sort. This applies to people over 30 and to those skinny pouter pigeon chested rock singers regardless of their age.

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