I promised a post about being the Elle Woods of the physics department, and I think that it ties in to today. A couple of weeks ago, I was out with
a friend and this subject came up. I believe that the conversation went along the lines of using my womanhood to conquer the male-dominated and difficult coursework that I love so much, and that perhaps I should get a small dog to carry around in my plaid handbag, nestled in between my Quantum Mechanics textbook and Linear Algebra notes. Of course, I'm not serious, but to be a real Elle Woods, I have to pass the Elle Woods Test.
Elle Woods Trait #1: Semi-perfect Body
Let's face it. Elle Woods, while falling below-average
where height is concerned, is above-average in skin complexion and overall shape. Have you seen anybody rock business-wear so well? Have you ever seen a skin tone that works so well with highlighter pink? Have you ever seen anybody look so put-together in sequins? I certainly have not. Elle Woods is second to none when it comes to professional and creative fashion sense and overall stature.
Now, I have been, for the past 13 weeks or so, attempting to grasp a bit of my femininity. My wardrobe, once replete with graphic tees and fishnets, is evolving into something a bit more class-act. I will admit that. I still love a good graphic tee and a solid pair of fishnets, but only if I can marry it with a killer necklace and dominatrix boots, and some really good eye shadow. There you go. But as for the body? Yikes, let's not even go there. I'm sure my gals have been there before, too. It doesn't seem to matter how many kilometers I swim or how many miles I run, I see "more of jell-o than of Gibraltar" when I look into the mirror. However, I do live on the fourth floor of Shaw Hall, meaning that I bounce up a few flights of stairs every time I want to come back to my room. So, I have illustrated for the reader's amusement my current thigh paired with the projected prediction of what my thighs will probably look like at the end of the semester:
Clearly, there is work to be done. I think that I am quite capable.
Elle Woods Trait #2: Quick-Witted Brains
Not only is Elle Woods a sight for sore eyes, but she is a relief from the old blonde woman stereotype. It's impossible to go from a fashion major to a law student to a successful lawyer to a woman working to pass a bill in Washington DC itself without some sort of natural talent. Seriously, give me a person with passion and all I can see is a mouth that runs and eyebrows that dance around on his or her face, and a lot of fist-pounding and cold-sweating, but give me a person with passion, drive and talent and I see potential. Not only potential, but I see promise. Elle didn't just speak of what she wanted. She acted upon what she saw that needed to be changed, because she had the brain for it. This is the person that I should be.
In the physics world, it isn't so difficult to silently float by. A lot of students do that. Maybe it's because we really don't have much to say about infinite square wells since the mechanics of those things are to be accepted before they are to be understood or even challenged. Maybe it's because physics sometimes tells us 'no' too much. Maybe it's because we're afraid of sounding incompetent. Maybe it's because we're afraid of hearing our own voices.
However, I am not afraid of my voice. I am not, but I am afraid of whether or not other people want to hear it. To learn to use my intellect and apply it and challenge myself...these are all things that are developing over my coursework. I'm getting better. I can feel that I am becoming a real physicist. I know that I have the brain to do well and understand. Confidence is not the issue, when I'm simply thinking about myself and how I view me. It becomes more of an issue when I think of how others might view me, of what reputation I already have, and how it might change or become conflicted. It is time that I sorted out what I think and feel, and if people do not agree, it isn't the end of the world. Not everyone agreed with Elle Woods, but she agreed to believe in what she knew to be right.
Elle Woods Trait #3: Loyal Social Circle
Three things: Bruiser, Emmett and Paulette, and Delta Nu. Elle's best canine friend, fiancée and best gal friend, and sisterhood. Ok, here's where I'm going to lose some of you. Here's what you're probably thinking: "Becca, you're not engaged. You said you never would be, and you're definitely NOT in a sorority. What the deuce?" Well, here's what I'm thinking. Elle's exploits as budding lawyer and political bombshell would not have even happened if it were not for Bruiser, Emmett, Paulette, or Delta Nu. Her sorority sisters supported her through her LSAT days, Emmett gave her invaluable advice on her first day at Harvard, and Paulette and Bruiser gave her the chances to fight for the things that she loved.
On the Becca side of things, my exploits as a budding physicist and overall bombshell would not have happened had it not been for my family, my friends, and my colleagues. I have never been truly lonely. I have never been truly in need. This is not to say that my life is free of difficulty, because it most certainly is not and neither was Elle's. My life is simply different, ridiculous, extraordinary at times, but I have never been without the things that I need and I firmly believe that this is because of the people that surround me. My family is helping support my college tuition, which is a wonderful thing because I certainly do not have $100,000 laying around somewhere to pay for my Bachelor's, and the Bachelor's is just the beginning of a long road to PhD. They not only support me financially but they support the woman that I am as well. My family and friends support my beliefs, my standards, my decisions, my intelligence...they are the backbone to my life. I would have no reason to believe in these crazy things that I am studying if it were not for them. I would have no reason to do much of anything. My colleagues believe in me as I strut through my academic and personal lives, and I believe that my success is based largely on that support system.
So, there you go. Three easy Elle Woods Traits. Clearly, the character and I are from two completely different worlds, but hey. I don't think we're so completely different after all. At the end of the day, she came home to her friends and family who love her. So do I, especially on this wonderful birthday. At the end of the day, she knew that she had lived to the best of her intelligence, and she did it in heels. I do this too, on occasion regarding the heels part. I have no intention of using the gender card to buy my way into anything. I won't succeed because I am a woman and they need women, I will succeed because I am a passionate and talented woman and they need more women like me.