Unorthodox Role Models: Miss Piggy
When it comes to role models, ladies, you can keep your Sheryl Sandbergs and Marissa Mayers; I don’t need them. Sure, I’ve been known to answer coworker’s inquiries of what I was up to with a resolute “I’m leaning in,” and I championed Mayer’s high-profile pregnancy along with most of you, but when it comes to my day-to-day work inspiration, I look to someone with a bit more pizazz, that certain je ne sais quoi, and a corkscrew tail. My mentor is a mangalista pig made out of anton fleece who has unyielding dreams of stardom and a weakness for glamour. My role model is Miss Piggy.
Every since I was a chubby little girl with a penchant for loud patterns living in suburban nowhere, USA, I have had an affinity for Henson Studios’s blonde, saucer-eyed pig. With her unapologetic attitude and larger-than-life personality, Miss Piggy was everything I wanted to be or, at the very least, to be seen as. I used to practice her trademark “hi-yah!” while looking at myself in the mirror, repeating the cry like an incantation, hoping that I would transform into a more fearless version of myself. I envied Miss Piggy’s confidence — the way she would strut into a room as if her presence were a gift. She was feminine and seductive but nothing like Kelly Kapowski or Britney Spears, the girls whose pictures were ripped out from my school’s communal copies of Tiger Beat.
To me, Miss Piggy was a possibility, an articulation of womanhood that I found new, exciting, and self-affirming. She was evidence that I could be a full-figured fashionista who revels in her own beauty and talents and assumes everyone else does too. The realization was liberating. Soon, I began keeping feather boas hidden in the bottom of my closet; I started to borrow armfuls of Vogue from the local library. One day, while watching The Great Muppet Caper with my family, my mom studied me, cocktail weenie in hand. “You know, you’re just like Miss Piggy. You are just like her!” It was the nicest thing that anyone had ever said to me — it still is.
Despite being a puppet (and one made in the image of an animal that rolls around in mud, at that), Miss Piggy has managed to build an empire. She has written five books, one of which, Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, was a New York Times bestseller for twenty-nine weeks. Do you know how many of Kermit’s books wound up on top of the Times’s Bestseller List? Zero. In 1998, Miss Piggy released her own perfume, “Moi.” (Does it get any more confident than naming your own perfume “me”?) She has a line for MAC Cosmetics, which includes frosty pink eyeshadow and diva-sized false eyelashes, and a line of her own OPI nail polishes. She can be seen everywhere from posters to lunch boxes to magazine covers to late-night television, but it wasn’t always easy for the capricious pig.
According to what we know of her past, Miss Piggy left home — a small town in Iowa — as a teenager, with nothing but big dreams and bravado. Her first job was at a department store selling gloves. In 1993 interview with Larry King, Miss Piggy didn’t shy away from her less-than-glamorous roots: “I’m proud of that,” she told King. “I was alone. I was single. I’m proud of that. I made my own way.” Even after finding success, Miss Piggy never stopped making her own way. In The Muppet Movie, after breaking up with her boyfriend and effectively losing her job, was Miss Piggy defeated? No; she focused on her career, flaunted her flair, and worked her way up to the apotheosis of the fashion world: Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Paris. I would call that leaning in, wouldn’t you?
Oh, and the quips! The quips! Miss Piggy certainly has a way with words. Here are some choice nuggets of porcine wisdom, all culled from Miss Piggy’s best-selling Guide to Life:
There is no such thing as a “correct” weight for any particular height — there are only averages. And moi, who has a perfect figure, can tell you that the idea of going on a diet is not to become so thin that when you are at a party and turn sideways, people think you left early.
What do men look for in a woman? They look for someone feminine, sweet, intelligent, and demure. They look for that certain elegance, that je ne sais pas. They look for style, substance, and sweep. They look for a full, generous figure coupled with a deep, smoldering gaze. And then, alas, just when they have found it, I must tell them that I am already engaged.
Answers to the Three Most-Often Asked Perfume Questions: How much? A lot. Where? All over. When? Anytime.
Sure, Miss Piggy can be vain and domineering; she gets incredibly jealous and can fly into a volatile rage with little to no warning; she is a parody of every egomaniacal Hollywood glamour puss out there; her French is very poor. But she is still worthy of admiration and (careful, discerning) emulation. In fact, I think it is powerful that Miss Piggy embraces her vulnerability and emotions without fear that they’ll compromise her authority.
Miss Piggy has an unwavering sense of self-worth, a trait that is as necessary in the boardroom as it is in the bar. She goes after what she wants without trepidation or consideration of what others might say, whether it is her beloved Kermie, another slice of pizza, or a job working for Lady Holiday, the biggest fashion designer in London. She has canoodled with some of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs and yet she alway gets her man — or, well, her frog. She is a lesson in the power of personality and charm. Miss Piggy isn’t self-deprecating, unobtrusive, or timid and yet she has managed to achieve all of her dreams. She is the only female lead of The Muppets and I would argue that she is the most beloved. She can’t be thwarted. (Seriously — try it, and she’ll karate chop you in the neck). As Frank Oz, the original voice of Miss Piggy, told Time magazine in 1978, “She wants everyone to treat her like a lady, and if they don’t, she’ll cut them in half.”
Miss Piggy is extraordinarily strong and utterly vivacious; she has fabulous hair and a wardrobe I would kill for. She is a tornado of confidence, charisma, beauty, and ambition, with a generous pinch of glamour. She may be a pig but she is the grandest representation of femininity and feminism that I have ever seen. But perhaps Miss Piggy shouldn’t be seen as a role model — perhaps she is best understood as a call to live one’s own life without apologies.
As she told the New York Post, “Moi has always been a strong, self-confident woman. I know what I want and I go out and get it. Unless, of course, I can call and have it delivered. But not everyone is moi. Come to think of it, no one else ismoi. Heck, before I put on my face in the morning, not even moi is moi! So, you women can use me as a role model, but you have to be yourselves. Put up my poster, embrace my trailblazing style, but live your own life. And most especially — get your own frog.”
Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.