I couldn’t have been older than 10 when my parents took me on another intolerable slog to a store to look at the Boring Things adults liked so much.
It was a furniture store in Phoenix, no different than probably a hundred other stores in the Valley or the approximately 10,000 I had been forced to enter in my short lifetime (we moved around a lot). But then something wonderful happened.
‘Something wonderful happened’
My mom learned over and whispered in my ear, “Do you see that couple over there? That’s Wonder Woman’s parents.”
I looked over at the middle-aged couple showing my dad some pieces. There was nothing remarkable about them. But as it turned out, we were in the store owned by Jean and Colby Carter, parents of TV’s Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter.
It was my first brush with fame.
I had spun myself dizzy as a little girl, trying desperately to turn my T-shirts and jeans into sparkly hero clothes and a rope that would make anyone tell me the truth like Diana Prince did on TV.
It never worked, dang it, but I tried. And tried. And tried.
A girl. Like me
I had always loved superheroes. Family lore has it that my first word was “Batman.” But in Wonder Woman, I saw a hero who could defeat Nazis and pull Steve Trevor out of enough barrels to supply a vineyard without breaking a sweat. And she, pretty much alone among the superheroes on my radar, was a girl. Like me.
And now I knew the story got a little better: Wonder Woman was a girl from Phoenix. Also just like me.
All children deserve heroes who reflect themselves. There’s a lot of eye-rolling about the seeming superhero stranglehold on TV and at the box office these days, but a growing roster of comic-book heroes on screen means Hollywood is branching out from the usual square-jawed white guys. The Black Panther gets his solo debut in February, and a Hispanic Ghost Rider put much-needed vroom in the most recent season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
But the huge box-office opening of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” almost certainly means we’ll get a “Wonder Woman II,” which, fingers crossed, will open doors for other powerful women on both sides of the camera.
So many of my friends spoke of breaking into tears when they saw Amazon warriors portrayed as strong and capable without a hint of a camera that regarded them as eye candy. I admit, I got a little choked up, too.
Did I cry? Yep. Because of this
But the moment I wiped at my eyes was when the lights came up and I saw little girls in Wonder Woman T-shirts and headbands walking out of the theater, holding Mom and Dad’s hands.
How lucky these girls are, I thought, to grow up in a world of this Wonder Woman. And General Leia Organa. And hopefully soon Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau.
Girls soon, perhaps, won’t even have to consider it empowering to have strong female role models. It will just be a given.
And some of them will be girls from Phoenix.
Suzanne Condie Lambert is an Arizona Republic page planner. She has two children who have been warned that Mother’s Day better be freakin’ Christmas.