CHICAGO, IL - JULY 15: Spectators look at 'Forever Marilyn,' a sculpture by Seward Johnson, on July 15, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The stainless steel and aluminum sculpture which stands 26 feet tall and weighs 34,000 pounds will be on display in Chicago through the spring of 2012. The sculpture was inspired by Marilyn Monroe?s iconic scene in the 1955 movie Seven Year Itch. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)2011 Getty Images
It was one of those visuals that are imprinted in your mind and follow you for days. Time Square on a hot summer morning. As a large group of tourists and locals get ready to cross the intersection, a sudden breeze caught a young woman unawares. Her light dress took flight a-la-Marilyn Monroe leaving her spectacular legs and perfectly rounded butt exposed. Thank God she was wearing a lacy-red thong. Seriously.
While the hordes walking behind her –me included- gasped at the sight, she calmly grabbed at the skirt and held it tightly until she made it safely to the other side of the road. Then she continued walking as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. As if she hadn’t imprinted an image in our brains that would became the anecdote all of us would repeat to our friends throughout the day.
To me, this young woman was the epitome of grace in the face of a stressful situation. A show of ultimate confidence and preparation. How so, you ask?
First of all, confronted with a similar situation, most women would’ve been utterly embarrassed and mortified, a feeling I can’t imagine this woman experienced even briefly. Second, the control she exercised and the calmness with which she handled herself leads me to believe that she was prepared.
Here’s my theory.
She looked more like a local than a tourist in which case, she might be well acquainted with the idiosyncratic winds on that corner of Manhattan. Rather than avoiding the area, wearing pants, or bothering to remember to hold on to her skirt as she approached the intersection, she decided to wear outrageously sexy panties just in case something unexpected like a burst of warm air lifted her dress above her head.
To me, this episode is a great reminder that you never know when something unexpected might happen, but, if you’re prepared, you can manage the situation with confidence and ease. Rather than being caught with your pants down – or your skirt up – you are better able to take the bull by the horns and deal with the difficulty. The difference is that when you put some effort in the preparation, the amount of aggravation, energy and time wasted when something doesn’t go as you planned is considerably less. Instead of stressing, you can explore ways in which you can leverage this contingency and even turn it to your favor. I don’t need to explain here what that could look like for the woman in my story who took the concept of “lady in red” to a whole new level.
I love that kind of foresight and deeply admire her confidence. Now she only needs a pair of red shoes to complete the outfit.
Mariela Dabbah is a published author and founder of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization, and of the Red Shoe Movement, an initiative that invites women to wear red shoes to work on Tuesday to signal their support for other women’s careers.