You know, it’s funny. As I’m thinking about this question it’s actually gone midnight on a (now) Sunday morning, and I’ve just watched five episodes of Sex and the City.
The idea of Carrie Bradshaw being the perfectly imperfect, real woman of New York strikes me as being, well, funny.
See, we can spend so much time aspiring to be like scripted ‘real’ women on our screens, that we forget to actually be who we are.
The real irony here is that I’m inspired to write this article as a result of sitting and listening to the inner thoughts of one Carrie Bradshaw, herself.
But is she an inspirational woman?
Let’s not forget that Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are completely different to one another. To be honest, it’s what makes such great TV. But that’s the point — they’re the extreme personality version of themselves and, in being so, are just as unobtainable as the women we watch on reality TV.
Carrie is the ultimate cool, witty, gal about town, shoe-loving leading lady. She embodies a whole kind of mood... but she pushes away men whilst questioning everything about them, leaving her unsure, at times immature and a lot of times with and then without a ring on her finger.
Samantha — well. An icon, it’s undeniable. If Carrie embodies a whole mood, then Samantha really IS 'What A Mood'. And yet it’s made apparent on several occasions that deep down she is desperate, desperate to be loved. Anyone else remember Richard and her brown wig investigative work? I daren't even mention the word 'sushi'. Despite being portrayed as a proud, sexual and carefree woman (inhibitions, I think not) even such a strong character is flawed.
Needless to say, there are elements of realness embedded in these characters and that’s absolutely ok. It’s what we, as a consumer, need. You have to relate to something in order to appreciate it, right? In order to feel like it’s obtainable? You can also admire a piece of artwork but know that it’s out of your reach. Financially, perhaps, but also on that deep level of romantic understanding reserved for aesthetes like Charlotte York herself. Mind you, I’m not sure if we can count Neville Morgan and his particular appreciation of art *cough c--t (shoutout to Season 1 Episode 5: The Power of the Female Sex) in that example.
Look, as ever it's spiralling away from me, but my point is that we watch women on our screens, we admire women on our phones and social media, we used to even see them on the street day in and day out. The question is — what makes these women inspirational? If you’re still with me, I’d like to introduce you to a woman in my life who is, in my opinion, a real, real-life inspiration.
22-year-old Melissa Piele from Rayleigh, Essex.
She's a qualified Level 3 Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair technician and has battled the 'Oh! A female mechanic? Good for you' style of response in my company on many an occasion.
Here's what she said about stepping into a predominantly male-dominated work environment:
"I think that unfortunately there are stereotypes about female technicians which simply aren’t true.
The work sometimes involves an element of manual labour and I think that some women may think that they won’t have the strength for some jobs. The good workshop has to have a strong and diverse team that works together well, so that everyone is working efficiently. We all have our own strengths and support one another. We work as a team, regardless of gender."
Melissa spent months applying, interviewing and applying again for apprenticeship roles as an entry-level mechanic back in 2016. As expected with any job hunt, there were setbacks. Except these blows packed a particular punch with the looming thought that, as a young girl, it was her desire to enter a 'male job role' that was holding her back.
Eventually, Melissa proved successful and found herself on a 36-month course with a Peugeot garage in Chelmsford.
18 months later - so that's half the time - she had completed the course in full.
What. A. Mood. What an inspiration.
"In my opinion, women should not be daunted or scared at the prospect of working within an environment that is predominantly male. I have proven myself that I am just as capable of doing this job. I hope that other young women might look at what I have achieved, my career aspirations, and be inspired to join the industry."
Now I’m not saying that she’s perfect* - although she really does look incredible in both overalls and as my (un)willing model - because you don’t have to be perfect to be inspirational.
But for me it’s clear that, with women in my life like Melissa, nothing should hold you back from living the best of both worlds.
You can have your Sex and the City highflying lifestyle, and you can also have dirt under your nails.
Just remember to take a look around you for some inspiration from time to time.
Remember it’s what makes us real that makes us inspiring.
*BTW Melissa if you’re reading this you totally, totally are. I mean, that pic is epic ;)
Disclaimer: Totally love Sex and the City, too!