By Amanda Wineman
Distinguished Young Woman of Montana for 2011
Pink mesh gloves, neon pink leg warmers, white Keds, ripped tights, hot pink sports bra, white-washed jean shorts, white crop tank top, punk hairband, black and white checkered suspenders, teased hair, a leather jacket, and a bare midriff. I had but one assignment for Monday. Dress like the 80s, and honestly I was not looking forward to it. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the entire student body. I’m not a fashionista in any generation, let alone the 80s. My wardrobe consists of a few spring dresses, a few business suits, three pairs of non-holey jeans, and a gazillion t-shirts. I had safely lived in my conservative, non-expressive bubble my entire life, so this assignment threw me for a loop. My good friend Julia and I were in the same boat. How were we going to dress? One trip to Claire’s and our prayers were answered. After buying several accessories, we felt like we could find the rest of our outfits from other girls living in our dorm. I gathered a few things from my friend Ann, and then I was set. I woke up Monday morning excited to get ready. After taking care of my daily routine of showering, brushing my teeth, etc., I sat in front of the mirror and stared at my reflection. First, I applied my foundation, sweeping the brush softly over my cheekbones and jawline. I took another brush and gently skimmed the surface of my cheeks with a bright pink blush.
Now the eyes. Dark red eyeshadow with black winged eyeliner. Then I had to fix my hair which was crimpy from the braids I had slept in the night before. My hair was too short for an awkwardly high side ponytail, so I turned to my loyal friend, Google. I “googled” 80s hair and the first picture that appeared inspired the rest of my appearance. The image that was staring back into my face was that of Madonna. She was staring into the depths of my extremely fashion-ignorant soul. She seemed to whisper to me the correct course of action. I began to backcomb my hair, spraying it with sculpting spray nonstop. I placed a hairband in, and moved on to the next step in getting ready: the clothes. I put on my ripped tights, leg warmers, and all that jazz. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was that my midriff was in clear view. How did I not realize that my stomach would show? Immediately, I began to doubt if I could pull off this look. Then I thought about my inspiration. What would Madonna do?
“Don’t just stand there; let’s get to it. Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.”
That was it. The final step in completing my outfit was putting on the proper attitude. I grabbed my friend Ann’s leather jacket and started singing “I’m Sexy and I Know It” in my mind. I looked awesome. My bare midriff was not going to leave me feeling self-conscious. Instead, I embraced my new look. I strutted to class as students stared (obviously, in insane jealousy). I could rule the world, and I’m convinced that for a day, I did. Madonna would be proud.
The events of that morning led me to think more about Madonna, and how she lived her life. I wondered, what could I learn from her? Madonna’s teachings reach far beyond the boundaries of fashion. For all intents and purposes, I now consider Madonna my life coach. I happen to despise her music, but she is a genius. When I need life advice I’ll turn to the pop icon and simply ask WWMD?
“When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.”
I speak my mind, because to not, is unnatural. We must always say how we feel, for how will others ever know what we’re thinking?
“I’ve been popular and unpopular successful and unsuccessful loved and loathed and I know how meaningless it all is. Therefore I feel free to take whatever risks I want.”
Risks are how we see how far we can go. Taking risks make you grow as a person. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t, but Madonna’s right. When you’ve been successful and unsuccessful you do feel more comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone. Madonna hasn’t always been perfect, but she gets back up and owns her mistakes. Better than that, she learns from them.
“To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.”
I even trust her for love advice, despite her insane not-so private life. We have one life, and what is a life if there is no love? Even if it means we experience love several times like Madonna, we must experience it fully and completely.
“I laugh at myself. I don’t take myself completely seriously. I think that’s another quality that people have to hold on to… you have to laugh, especially at yourself.”
When you fall, the first person to laugh should be you. Humor is how we remind ourselves that we’re only human. If we neglect our ability to laugh at ourselves, we begin to dwell on the mistakes that we make. That is no way to live.
Although there are hundreds of other lessons that Madonna can teach the world, the last I will share with you is this, “Poor is the man whose pleasure depends on the permission of another.” You must live for one person, and one person alone: yourself. Do what makes you happy! Never sacrifice your happiness to please someone else. Be yourself; be your best self! Be yourself even when it’s not the most popular option.Overall, she teaches one thing above all else: courage. We must have the courage to feel comfortable being crazy, to say what we feel, to take risks, to love without holding back, to always have a sense of humor, and most of all the courage to be yourself, because no one can do you better than you.
Amanda Wineman is a college freshman at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama majoring in Political Science with a minor in French. Originally from Cut Bank, Montana, Amanda was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Montana for 2011. Learn more about Amanda here!