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CaroleLombard

Since we’re on the threshold of May, the month of Mother’s Day, I thought this would be a good time to focus on some interesting women. I have a little 3 x 3 inch “pocket book” entitled Women’s Wit and Wisdom, which is a compendium of about 70 quotes from all kinds of women on all kinds of subjects.

One of my favorites is from Hollywood actress Carole Lombard: “I live by a man’s code, designed to fit a man’s world, yet at the same time, I never forget that a woman’s first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick.”

Context is important. Lombard was a successful film actress in the 1930s. So, for a woman to succeed, she had to understand the rules as defined by the men in charge. Women had to be smart, tough and talented. (Just like men.) But women also had to embrace the power of their femininity. (I’m reminded of that old saying: “Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did – but backwards and in heels.”)

I like Lombard’s quote but not for its apparent “poor me, poor woman” sentiment. I don’t think that was Lombard’s intent. Instead, I love it for her intelligence of her market. She knew, as an actress, she was selling a product – herself. And one should always ensure your customers are getting what they are asking for.

I also love the quote because it says “Don’t hide from who are.” In Lombard’s case (and mine), it’s okay to be a girl.

Do you remember the power suits with the linebacker shoulder pads? Nobody looked good in those. Instead, 80-some years after Lombard’s prime, the cosmetic industry – for both women and men — is alive and well. Billions of dollars are spent annually to ensure we all put our best foot (or should I say, face) forward. I don’t see any problem with that – as long as we’re comfortable in our own skin and not putting on a mask for somebody else’s benefit.