The reader may not be surprised when I declare that I have never thought of myself as a large blonde pig with lavender gloves. What may shock is that I regret this fact, for Miss Piggy is my shining ideal of a lady. Feminism means many different things for different women, but for me that foam, porcine muppet has embodied its essence.
As a way of introduction, let us compare Star Trek: The Next Generation's beautiful Counselor Troi to SwineTrek's equally stunning First Mate Piggy. Both shows are now in reruns, had male captains with problem- hair, and featured "space age" uniforms.
Miss Piggy was first mate in 1981. Yet on the 1990s Starship Enterprise, the highest ranking women are only caretakers. Troi is subordinate to two men, one of them a former lover. On the other hand, Piggy is only technically a first mate; it's clear from her behavior that she is the one who runs the show; Captain Link is simply a buffoon. Which of these two seemingly similiar women is the true feminist? Besides, Piggy would never be forced into a v-neck polyester body stocking; too utterly tacky for her!
My roommate argues that Miss Piggy is "too frilly," but isn't that perchance the choice feminism makes available? Although I must question if the ruffled Scarlett O'Hara-type skirts my pulchritudrous, porcine sister has been known to don are in the best of taste, no hero is perfect. Wearing large plastic jewelry is hardly an anti-feminist statement; a poor fashion choice perhaps, but hardly akin to voting for Pat Buchanan.
In fact, Piggy's beauty is a peculiarly empowering example. I never read most of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. I didn't feel I particularly needed to. Piggy was enough to show me that iconographic, anorexic models with augmented breasts are hardly the only claimants to beauty. Piggy knew she was beauuuuutiful. That was enough to convince the world, and set an admirable model for many a young girl. Besides, Ms. Wolf probably wouldn't understand why a lady sometimes just needs to carry a pink frilled parasol.
Piggy also set a wonderful example as an aggressive, successful woman who got what she wanted not by visual or political prostitution, but through hard work and determination. Piggy was not afraid to halt a skit, calling the script worthless on no uncertain terms: "This is a cheap-shot comedy sketch." Nothing stood in her way, not even the puny chicken-loving, blue "it" with the big nose (why Gonzo never learned to stay out of her way I'll never know; he went flying head over heels across the stage enough times). Perfection was her unequivocal goal-well, perfection and The Frog.
This example of not just an interracial but interspecies relationship also made me open to ideas outside of the close-minded world in which I was raised. Despite some very public questions like, "what will the children look like," Kermit and Piggy held on to their love, answering, "they will be small." Pig power fought not just sexism, but racism, too.
I wish I had one one-thousandth of the courage she had. Miss Piggy embodies an ideal to which I still aspire. How many women today can even call a man up? What small number can demand he take the relationship on her terms, no ifs, ands, or buts?
I contemplated that perhaps Miss Piggy was too forward, too aggressive. Then I realized that a man exhibiting such behavior would only be one-tenth as obnoxious as, say, Sam Malone. Moreover, I cannot but feel that dear Kermie was playing hard to get. When the chips were down, it was always to Piggy's side he rushed.
Some hecklers from the balcony might argue that Miss Piggy cannot be a feminist because she is (admittedly) a bit vain, loves an amphibian, or simply looks like a surreal Marilyn Monroe. However, as we try to create a better world for women and achieve equality between the sexes, consider what form this equality should take. At its root, feminism depends on equal freedom of choice; it is when women exercise these choices that the personal becomes political. Miss Piggy never let others dictate her choices; she never let society or a man dictate her role in life.
As I wandered the streets of Rome last Spring worried over my all too pick-worthy pockets, I remembered her and held my chin high. The force of The Pig was with me, carrying me on as it had since my years as a kindergartener wearing socks with lace cuffs. It was purely attitude, but effective in keeping away the pinchers.
Anyone messing with my awesome, self-empowered, feminine self would find themselves mercilessly hiyahhhed, much as Piggy kicked the ass of her would-be mugger in The Muppets Take Manhattan.
"That'll teach you to mess with a lady!"
Copyright 1996, The Yale Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.
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