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Dear Madonna: Why You Should Never Change

by Candy Woodall originally published on PennLive.com

Dear Madonna, I owe you an apology. For several weeks I’ve been thinking of writing you an open letter and, until the moment I wrote it, I was going to ask you to change. Your wardrobe, videos and words linked to the latest “Rebel Heart” tour have attracted negative criticism, and I almost joined the majority. I was going to confess that I grew up on your music. From wearing lace gloves when I was 5 years old to recently listening to your songs while dancing with friends, your voice has been well represented on the soundtrack of my life. But as I grew up, you seemingly did not. You’re 22 years older than me. That didn’t seem like such a big deal when I was 5 and you were 27. Then, somehow, I became 34 and you reached 56, and I just wanted to give you a hug and say, “So, maybe you should put the fishnets under a pencil skirt.” I was wrong. You’ve made a career out of raising eyebrows with hits “Like a Virgin,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Like a Prayer,” “Erotica,” “Justify My Love,” not to mention every relationship you’ve ever had. Those were all number one songs, by the way. And fans are paying more this year to see you on the Rebel Heart tour than they did three years ago. Music reviews in Rolling Stone have called you and your art a “provocative extravaganza.” You made headlines for several other things too: the kiss with Britney Spears, saying you wanted to go on a date with Drake and falling off stage during the recent Brit Awards. And those are just a few things from the 2000s. There are plenty of things from the 80s and 90s that prove you were waging a war against racism, sexism, hate crimes and bigotry long before the listeners were brave enough to loudly stand up with you. You have a history of proving if anyone in the room is going to be uncomfortable, it’s not going to be you. And I love that about you. I still believe a little discretion goes a long way, but I love that someone like you is out there.

I love that you’re 56, and still bold and unafraid to show up at the Grammys with more cleavage than women 30 years younger than you.

You have a history of proving if anyone in the room is going to be uncomfortable, it’s not going to be you.

It seems to me your latest war is against sexism and ageism – and rightfully so. Nobody makes a big deal of it when 56-year-old male rock stars date 20-year-old women. It’s not just accepted, it’s expected. But you’re a 56-year-old woman in America. That means you can’t date someone as young as Drake, who is 28. Nobody writes about how 71-year-old Rolling Stones stars Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are still wearing tight leather pants – and, really, who is going to tell them no? But you’re a 56-year-old woman in America. That means how you look and what you wear will always be under heavy scrutiny. It means because you are a mother of four, you cannot be sexual. It means it doesn’t matter if you built 10 schools in Malawi. It means Piers Morgan can say, “Falling off the stage, Madonna, is God’s way of telling you you’re too old to cavort like a hooker.” (But I wouldn’t worry about Mr. Morgan. He survived less air time on CNN than Dog the Bounty Hunter.) It means middle-aged men and suburban moms get to judge you and say, “Put it away. Your age is showing.” And I love that you keep saying “No.” You will not be silenced. This is not a stunt. This is who you are. This is who you’ve always been. You are the woman who made a mockery of the wedding dress, made the cone bra famous and taught us to vogue. Of course you’re wearing fishnets and thongs in public when you’re 56. I won’t be doing it, but I’m glad you are. So to amend my previous error in judgment, let me offer my sincerest apology for trying to make you fit into a severely outdated perception. Don’t put it away now, Madonna. Your awesome is showing. Love, Candy

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