In that one scene? You know, the scene where she’s just walking around in her thigh high boots and her cut out shirt - just doing some window-shopping to the rhythm of that badass, upbeat Natalie Cole song, ‘Wild Women Do’? She’s having a GREAT day. Then she harmlessly walks into an upscale, ladies clothing store – and the three sales ladies look at her like she is wearing a hat made out of garbage. And then they start to talk to her like she is just an assembled pile of garbage.
She compliments their inventory, and inquires about the cost of a dress. They’re real passive aggressive, they go from “I don’t think this would fit you” to “It’s VERY expensive” to “I don’t think we have anything for you, you’re obviously in the wrong place, please LEAVE.” Now before I go any further, I must mention that once, in Skylight Books, I was really hoping they would kick out the super drunk guy who was swaying back and forth looking like he was about to vomit all over the stationery I was looking at but they didn’t. I respect the ‘We reserve the right to refuse service to people who are being assholes in some way’ sign. This is not about that. Anyway, back to the question, have you ever been Julia Roberts in that scene? I’m gonna go ahead and say that you have. I have. We both have. There we were just prancing around in our thigh highs having a Wild Women Do Day when all of a sudden a “human being” shamed us into leaving their precious store. One of my most painful Pretty Woman moments was at a commercial audition when I was seventeen (just like that Frank Sinatra song!). I had acted as a kid - from the ages of seven to twelve - then I took a break from pounding the pavement as a fairly worn-out-by-show-biz-twelve-year-old in order to play softball and focus on writing and passing entertaining notes in public school. But at around fifteen, I really wanted to get back into acting, so I called up my old agent, and eventually (after I starved myself and over-exercised, and you know, damaged my young body to lose something like 12-15 pounds) she signed me (Hooray?). So I was going out on auditions like I wanted. But even though I was basically killing myself trying to be skinny, I was still going out for roles like “Stress-eating Carol” and “Pudgy McFudge” and my agent would say “Don’t worry, that role has been revised – don’t pay any attention to the fact that it says she’s rotund.” Eventually the unhealthy dieting reversed on me (duh) and I gained that weight back. I still wasn’t all that heavy but of course I thought I was a teenage whale. My body was changing anyway (as all of our bodies do at that age), and the entertainment industry wasn’t very kind (again duh). But, up until this particular Pretty Woman moment – no one had been so blatantly mean to me. So, there I was just grooving in my proverbial cut out shirt, hanging with my hip mom and one of my closest family friends, Paulanna, in her beautiful, high quality but not pretentious gift shop, Pergolina (it is still the coolest shop in Toluca Lake, you should go there!), talking about the upcoming audition. I was excited! It was for a commercial where I would get to DANCE! Fun! I wasn’t a professional dancer, but I had some unique moves that I was ready to share with the world! AND it was for a commercial for female shaving gel (should have been called Barbiesol, am I right?) – so only fun to be had, easy breezy, let’s do this! My mom drives me there, asks if I want her to come up to the waiting room with me, and I say no thanks, because I’m seventeen so I’m basically a grown up all the way woman. Pic and rez in hand and I am off on the road to a dance commercial audition. I read the signs, I take the elevator to the right floor, I’m cookin’ with gas! I walk up to the “human being” at the sign up desk. He looks at me like I an offensively fat, seventeen-year-old Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Without words, in mere seconds, he lets me know right away that he is the meanest, most dominant, sales girl in the store. And then he talks to me like I am ruining his floor just by standing on it. Oh, and there is also an eight foot tall super model/evil ballerina waiting to audition who is staring at me like I am farting pop tarts. He grills me, “Are you a dancer??” “Well, I’m more of an actor slash dancer.” I said that, because at the time, I was completely adorable.
After I say that, him and the evil ballerina look at each other like I just said I’m a Nazi. “Well, this is audition is for serious dancers only. And you are here by mistake. You should let your agent know that mistakes like this make their agency look really bad.” I said, well I don’t even know what I said because at that point all I was doing was trying not to burst into tears in front of him and the evil palm tree of a ballerina. And I succeeded, but once those elevator doors closed, I cried all over my headshot. Mascara was flooding my face by the time I made it to mom’s car. She asked what had happened and I uttered maybe the saddest sentence I’ve ever spoken, “They wouldn’t let me dance.” She was furious and was unbuckling her seatbelt to go give that “human being” the BUSINESS but I wouldn’t let her – it would have magnified my mortification even more. Instead, she tried to comfort me while I slumped in the passenger seat, sniffling as we drove home. I bet your story has a lot of similarities to my story – because truly, all of our shaming stories, at their core, are just that over-acted shopping scene in Pretty Woman. BUT NOW that we are proud, Wild Women Do Adults with life experience, we don’t let anyone treat us like lowly prostitutes in a fancy store. We also, NEVER treat other fellow human beings like that. We practice compassion and respect – and if we falter, we apologize. We get back on track to being kind. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is one of my favorite movies. In the opening scene, they are watching the shopping scene from Pretty Woman. It’s pretty genius, at first they are joking about it and then they admit it’s actually really sad. And then Lisa Kudrow gets really happy when they finally let her shop. I love that Romy and Michele starts this way, because throughout the movie, Romy and Michele are pretending their lives are “better” than they actually are in order to impress the A Group, the most popular, meanest (sales) girls in school. Romy wants the A Group to finally, ten years later, let her and Michele shop in their cool-girl store aka just be nice to them and treat them like human beings. But in the end (sorry if you haven’t seen it yet) Michele helps Romy understand, just like we are learning to understand, that they/we don’t need anyone’s permission TO FINALLY LET US SHOP. Romy gives the “human being” leader of the A Group, the BUSINESS, “You’re a bad person with an ugly heart, and WE DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT YOU THINK.” And then ROMY AND MICHELLE OPEN THEIR OWN SUCCESSFUL CLOTHING STORE AND ARE DELIGHTFUL, COURTEOUS SALES GIRLS TO EVERYONE THAT SHOPS THERE. AND EVERYONE IS ALLOWED TO SHOP THERE. DUH.