My personal love affair with a fictional icon
Her name has become synonymous with style and the chic, single-girl lifestyle. She represents the new woman’s funny, sharp, likable everygirl. She’s Carrie Bradshaw, possibly one of the most influential fictional characters to ever influence a generation. Sex and the City played a huge role in revolutionizing the way America views single women; presenting the idea that we do not have to be programmed primarily to achieve the cookie-cutter life targets we’ve been told we should reach for so long (marriage, house, baby, etc). Instead, the bachelorette cherishes single life, independence and freedom. The major storylines in the show, however, do center on not whether or not the characters do in fact marry, have children, or even serious relationships, but how they do it–without losing their sense of self. Being single is not the key, a sense of self is, and Carrie Bradshaw leads the way.
Along with many other women around the world, I have always identified with Carrie. She’s all about opening your heart and your mind at the same time. She’s witty, she’s sharp, she’s sexy–but all in a very accessible, believable way. Mine and Carrie’s “storylines” have coincided as I have watched and re-watched the show and begun to experience my single life as a young woman. While I’m not near my thirties yet, I still feel the inevitable pull from older influences–and society in general–to “settle down,” whatever that means. For Carrie and I, marriage and “happily ever after” is not the be-all, end-all in life. And just like Carrie, I’m a career-focused girl but not necessarily as schooled or as driven as the other three women on the show.
I feel akin to Carrie in many ways. She smokes and drinks and has had a fair helping of casual dating and one-night-stands, but at the end of the day, she’s an old-fashioned girl. She believes in the One, she believes in romance, and most of all, she believes in love. She’s sentimental and reflective. All women are complex, but I relate to Carrie a lot in this way too–her needs and feelings are often conflicted and result in charged and sometimes difficult relationships with men. She’s had to know when to walk away, and it’s bittersweet; especially in her second breakup with Aidan, whom she truly loved and respected, but it just didn’t work, and she couldn’t be what he wanted her to be. It’s never easy to strike a balance. Not just anyone will do. Mischiko Kakutani accused Carrie of “disposing” of men when she reviewed her book in Season Five; I’ve had many of my older friends and colleagues say the same thing to me. But I digress: When searching for a soulmate, one can never be too picky. And so continues the endless search. Carrie was looking for love, real love. “Ridiculous, consuming, can’t live without each other love.” And she found it, as we all hoped and predicted–in Mr. Big.
It’s easy to make a sweeping judgment of the carefree single girl–Carrie and myself included–and throw out terms like “promiscuous” and the like. Aside from the ludicrous societal double-standard, I like to believe that I’ve maintained a moral compass. You can’t look back, you can only learn. Carrie is flawed. I am flawed. We trip over things, we can’t (don’t?) cook, have messy apartments and high credit card bills due to an unshakable shopping addiction. But she’s real–still fictional–but that’s what makes the show so amazing. The writers really, really made Carrie real and relatable to all of us. We can look at her and say: “I’m her.”