Loved it loved it loved it.
To be fair, I have always loved Wonder Woman. So much so that I was worried that this movie wouldn’t get it right.
But as far as I am concerned, it did. Big time. What I didn’t expect was for it to capture, in one moment in one glorious scene, something so profound and real that it helped me remember who I was, let alone what I wanted to write.
The scene where she steps out into No Man’s Land has been discussed quite a bit on the interwebs, and with good reason. It’s brilliant and it’s powerful. But the moment in that scene that hit me most of all wasn’t her climbing up the ladder in slow motion, with men ahead of her ready to kill and men behind her telling her it was impossible.
That was glorious, yes.
But the moment that hit me was the moment she turned away from the men and took her hair down.
It was the first thing she did to get ready to step into her power.
She took her hair down.
Now, if this had been a movie that shone, shall we say, the “male gaze” on Wonder Woman, this would have been done to make her more sexy, more of a bombshell, more appealing to—you guessed it—men.
But it’s not that movie (thank goodness!) and it wasn’t that moment.
Instead, it was a moment (much like the moment earlier in the movie, where Steve Trevor gives Diana Prince glasses, leading Etta to scoff, “Really..specs? Suddenly she’s not the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?”) where the lame tropes about how our culture sees woman were reclaimed and taken as our own.
First, specs don’t hide beauty. (Or handsomeness—Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent, I’m looking at you.)
Next, and arguably more important (although as a girl who wore glasses it would have been nice to know that first one when I was younger) if you’re feminine and brilliant and crazy strong and gorgeous and kind, LET IT BE SEEN. It is yours. Wonder Woman takes her hair down to fight because that’s who she is. She is bad-ass and feminine, and in that moment she is so done with trying to be what fits into that socially-accepted, male world of London and war—because she knows the only way to be who she is is to BE WHO SHE IS. Fully; all of it; for reals.
For me, the moment she takes her hair out of that trying-not-to-look-feminine up-do is the moment she clearly says, I hear what you’re saying, but no. Your way is completely unacceptable for me. I know who I am and now I’m going to do what I came here to do.
Man, do I love this. I think I actually jumped up and down in my movie seat when it happened. Both times. And I probably will again.
So – how does this relate to writing? Well, for me, it’s a reminder of one very simple truth.
Whoever you are, whatever kind of writer you are, whatever story sings to you and whatever kinds of characters or world or ending you want to create—LIVE INTO IT. Whoever you are in your life, regardless of whether that’s currently in fashion or is accepted in your circles or whatever, claim it. Proudly. If that means you tell your intellectual and spiritual friends that you actually love pop culture and, oh, also, yoga is great and all but it didn’t save your life—not that those are personal examples or anything—then do it.
Stop listening to everyone else who tells you they know what you should be or do or write, and just remember who you are and what you love. Stop trying to be like them. Stop trying to be like the you you think you’re supposed to be. Stop trying to be anything other than what you actually already are, and go be THAT five hundred times more than you’ve been doing. Screw the established “wisdom” and tropes. Take your hair down, step into your No Man’s Land, and walk forward.
Because you got this.
And the thing is, when we each do this, when we decide to actually be who we actually are, suddenly everyone around us is brave enough to do it, too. To follow us across the field because it’s the right thing to do.
We all just need someone to take that first step.
As a writer, as an artist, as a human, be that person.
Reclaim who you are. Proudly. Take your hair down. You doesn’t have to do this on a battlefield. You can (and probably want to) do it kindly, with great love. Stepping onto the field to fight is completely secondary.
You got this.
So what does this mean, in more practical terms?
Here’s one. If you are introverted and don’t want to schmooze or network or post on social media—don’t!
Instead, stay home and hunker down and and get really, really, ridiculously good at the things you love to do, whether that’s putting one word after the next or something else entirely. And when you’re ready to send your work into the world, those hours and hours of sequestered, quiet, focused practice will set you apart from everyone else faster than a thousand tweets or posts ever could, and you will be noticed. Don’t believe it when they tell you you have to have a platform before you create. Get good enough and your platform will find you, as long as you put yourself out there. But first, take your hair down. Then, do the art. Do the art. Do the art.
If you are highly sensitive and everyone tells you to toughen up or get realistic—ignore them.
This is your superpower. It lets you understand on an incredibly insightful level how other people might feel, which means you have an unparalleled opportunity to both write something meaningful and to help others. Invite your sensitivity in for a thank-you cocktail and tell it you’re sorry you’ve been beating it down. Serve it your best booze. Take your hair down so you can do what you need to do.
If you are sincere, happy, or earnest—traits that are sneered at by much of today’s art and intellectual world—go with it!
Yes, I know. Man, do I know. Everyone seems to like snark and wit so much more than sincerity and joy. But that cynicism is just smoke and mirrors to make you doubt what you know to be true. Write characters who are sincere even if every publisher says they only want “edgy”—even and especially if you write for teens. Let happiness creep into your words. Take your hair down and stop trying to fit in when you have something so different to offer, something so desperately needed.
For all of us, in writing, in life, it’s time to say, Actually, I hear you, but here’s who I am.
Take your metaphorical hair out of its metaphorical bun and step into No Man’s Land.
Do it now.
You got this.
P.S. If you want to tell the rest of us what that means for you, personally, in the comments below, I’d love that, so much. Because nothing is more inspiring that someone who is clearly and unabashedly who they are…no matter how beautiful that is.