“It is better to be looked over than overlooked.” Mae West

 

mae westMae West is standing by a bar when she attracts the attention of a group of men. She  does a quick up and down her own body before smiling in appreciation and uttering the above sentence. This  smile says it all;  she is  pleased and delighted by what she sees , so why shouldn’t others? This  gem, this witty one liner from the Queen of one liners is one of her more powerful declarations because its heart is the source of her power, her complete and absolute belief in herself. You might be forgiven for thinking at first glance think this statement means we must look to others for our validation, but that is not correct. That is not what she believed and it is most certainly not a the way she lived her life . She believed so completely and utterly in herself that it would naturally follow that others would and should take notice of her. And they did. And unlike some of her contemporaries she was never anything but in control – of her career, her personal life, her money. She only started in movies at the very unHollywood age of 38, because it was such a small role she was allowed to rewrite her own lines to appease her. They obviously hadn’t read any of her plays, as her costar said in the end,”she stole everything but the cameras.” By 1935 she was the 2nd highest paid person int he US, William Randolph Hearst was the 1st. When the censors dug their heels into her  ‘risque’scripts she left film for radio. They went after her there too so she left that for Vegas. She was not happy being told what she could say and to whom. When  the people in her apartment building objected to her involvement with a black man – she bought the building. When one of her dancers became romantically involved with a younger woman, she sued them for’ abandonment of affection’. She was in her 70s and the younger woman was Jayne Mansfield! Ok that’s probably just  a little narcissistic but you gotta admire her all the same.  She was no shrinking violet, no pawn in anyone’s game. She knew what she was, what she wanted and she did it all with a swagger, a roll of the eyes and,unlike many of the female celebrities of today,  all her clothes on. It is highly unlikely that Ms West was ever overlooked but I know I have; I also know that thanks to women like her, those days of neglect and omission are over. Now someone, ” go peel me a grape”.

 

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