Thursday, April 19, 2007

Miss America - What's Your Talent?

When I was growing up in the 1950's the attitudes towards women were different than they are today. This was during the middle of the "baby boom" era when wives were still expected to be "barefoot and pregnant - baking cookies in the kitchen!" It was a time when society still held rigid ideas of what an ideal women should and shouldn't be - a time when the ideal women was defined as "Miss America!" Someone who had a beautiful figure, beautiful face, wonderful attitude, just the right amount of knowledge, and, of course, talent.

I like many other young women of my day faithfully watched the "Miss America" pageant on TV with my Mother. I would sit and dream of being "Miss America" until it got to the talent competition. Then, I would freeze. I'd think to myself, "I can handle everything except the talent competition! What would I do for talent?"

You see, I couldn't sing, or dance, or play an instrument. I could sew up a storm and sew rings around anyone I knew, but that wasn't considered talent. What would I do? Come out on stage with my sewing machine and give everyone sewing lessons? Or, show everyone all the clothes that I'd made? The audience would fall asleep.

I could sew, I could craft like crazy, and I could design floral arrangements with the best of them, but that wasn't considered a talent. Well, if it wasn't talent I'd think to myself - I didn't know what was. There wasn't anything I couldn't make if I put my mind to it. Why was sewing and crafting not considered a talent? Just because it wasn't entertaining did that mean it wasn't talent?

The talent portion of the contest accounted for 1/3 of the contestant's overall score. In the talent portion of the competition contestants perform on stage before the judges and audience with the most common talents being singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument. There have been other talents demonstrated like juggling, cheer leading, gymnastics, ventriloquism, drawing or painting. But, have you ever seen "crafting" or "sewing" as a talent?

So, I got frustrated and angry and gave up wanting to be Miss America. I resigned myself to being "talent-less!" As the years passed my creative juices continued to flow and I got better and better at sewing, crafting, and designing. At one point in my life everything I wore I had made. Then I got bored with making clothes for myself. I decided that I much preferred sewing smaller items like dolls as they took less time.

But, I never stopped thinking about "Miss America" and being "talent-less!" As the years passed I started to think that the ideal woman as defined by "Miss America" during the 1950's was so very wrong. The ideal was too confining and the talent criteria too restrictive. The talent parameters didn't encompass many of the other creative abilities of women and certainly didn't factor in all the different types of crafts that we have today.

So, I decided that women of all walks and ages are so gifted and talented in so many ways that it would be hard to define an "ideal" woman let alone set the criteria for "talent." I might be considered "talent-less" as far as the Miss America standards were concerned, but I was far from that as far as "crafters" standards were concerned.

By the standards defined in the 1950's Martha Stewart would be considered "talent-less!" I dare say most crafters would consider Martha Stewart to be the ultimate crafter with enormous "talent!"

I have changed a lot from the child who grew up with the 1950's ideals of a woman. If someone were to ask me today if I have talent I would not hesitate and would have a definitive and affirmative answer. I would only need to say three words that would define my talent.

Do I have talent? I absolutely have talent. "I'm a crafter!"

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog. Linda is a doll maker and doll pattern designer.

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