A note from Jessica Lipsky, digital editor: I came of age in the early aughts watching, however age inappropriately, episode upon episode of Sex and the City. As a budding writer and aspiring New Yorker, I looked longingly at Carrie Bradshaw’s enviable (and, I knew even then, entirely unrealistic) life of solo living, fabulous dinners and dates, great friends, and single weekly deadlines and dreamed of one day living in a shoe-filled apartment I could never afford on a writer’s salary.

 

However, my teen self was overlooking a much better role model in lawyer Miranda Hobbes: a sarcastic Harvard grad who made partner at her law firm by age 35 and boldly embraced her awkward, messy, continually actualizing life. Successful but still scattered, Miranda is the most relatable and realistic character on the show. After designer Chelsea Fairless and writer-director Lauren Garroni created the Instagram account @everyoutfitonsatc in 2016, their quest to document the show’s particular fashion sense evolved into a cultural phenomenon—one that heralded Miranda Hobbes as the show’s real “It Girl.” Fairless and Garroni champion Miranda, in all her flaws and fierceness, in We Should All Be Mirandas: Life Lessons from Sex and the City’s Most Underrated Character, excerpted below. Tomorrow, Boundless will feature an interview with the book's authors. 

Mirandaphobia

IT’S REAL, AND IT DOESN’T HAVE TO RUIN YOUR LIFE

There is a reason that you’ve been reluctant to self-identify as a Miranda for so long, and it has a name: Mirandaphobia. Simply put, Mirandaphobia is the institutionalized belief that Mirandas

are inferior to the Carries, Charlottes, and Samanthas of the world. This toxic rhetoric has permeated our culture since the advent of Sex and the City, resulting in many Mirandas choosing to remain closeted. They have internalized intense feelings of shame, often to the detriment of their own self-worth and their relationships with others. Our Carrie-normative culture has perpetuated the myth that embodying the characteristics of a Miranda (blunt, sarcastic,  career-focused) are undesirable qualities for a woman.

It’s textbook sexism, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that our oppression only benefits the patriarchy. But before we attempt to eradicate Mirandaphobia on a global scale, we must first examine our own inner bias.

Do you find yourself lashing out when you’re referred to as the Miranda of the group? This misplaced aggression is the first sign of Mirandaphobia. Mirandas have been conditioned to feel inferior, and continuing to hold on to this belief only makes us complicit in our own marginalization. Unpacking these unpleasant emotions is the first step to overcoming Mirandaphobia. And if you’re holding this book in your hands, you’re well on your way.

Famous Mirandas in History

Being a career-minded pragmatist who refuses to put up with bullshit is not unique to Miranda Hobbes. She is part of a lineage of highly intelligent, forward-thinking women who spurned expected gender roles in order to forge their own paths to success. Despite their legions of detractors, these strong-willed women pushed the culture forward and popularized pantsuits in the process. Without their pioneering efforts, we could not live openly as Mirandas today.

JOAN OF ARC, Saint (1412–1431) While most Miranda-identified individuals would roll their eyes at Joan of Arc for believing that God had chosen her to save France, we must respect her heroine status. Born Jeanne d’Arc, Joan lived on her parents’ farm until visions compelled her to lead the French Army to victory against the English at Orléans. She was captured a year later and put on trial for heresy, witchcraft, and dressing like a man. Joan’s refusal to wear women’s clothing while jailed—a countermeasure to being raped—led the court to believe she was a heretic and therefore was sentenced to burned at the stake. She died a martyr and an icon to androgyny.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Politician (1947– ) Is there any doubt that Hillary is a Miranda? From her love of suits to her Ivy League law degree, these women are two sides of the same coin. Throughout her prolific career, Clinton has lost almost as much as she has succeeded—and all on a very public stage. Despite her fumbles, she has always moved forward with grace and purpose. Critics can fuss about her likability all they want, but we will always carry the torch for this boundary-breaking icon.

ROXANE GAY, Writer (1974– ) Roxane Gay has a lot of opinions. From her landmark essay collection Bad Feminist to her utterly essential Twitter feed, Gay has become the preeminent cultural critic for the Miranda-identified. She is a best-selling novelist, a New York Times contributor, and a pop culture obsessive who examines lowbrow and highbrow culture with equal reverence. Gay reminds us that standing up and using your voice is absolutely crucial for the Miranda-identified.

KATHARINE HEPBURN, Actress (1907–2003) An outlier in her chosen profession, Katharine Hepburn personified the modern independent woman way before it was de rigueur. She built a career playing intelligent and fiercely independent characters—and, later in life, chic spinsters. On- and offscreen, her persona defied the patriarchal ideals of womanhood. Hepburn was  outspoken, never had children, and carried on a two-decade-long affair with the married Spencer Tracy. We also have her to thank for bringing trousers into the mainstream.

REI KAWAKUBO, Fashion Designer (1942–) Despite her lack of any formal fashion training, Rei Kawakubo created one of the most influential brands in the world. After stints in advertising and styling, Kawakubo began designing clothes under the label Comme des Garçons in 1969. Nearly five decades later, she is the reigning queen of the avant-garde. Her outré, genre defying clothing has garnered a massive cult following and near-universal praise from fashion critics. In 2017, she achieved the rare distinction of being the first living female designer to receive a solo show at The Met’s Costume Institute. Although extremely private, Kawakubo is instantly recognizable by her chic blunt bob and biker jacket.

FRAN LEBOWITZ, Writer (1950– ) Armed with her acerbic wit and Savile Row wardrobe, Fran Lebowitz made a career out of her sardonic dissections of New York life. In the early seventies, she penned a column for Interview magazine before going on to achieve literary success with her seminal essay collections Metropolitan Life and Social Studies. Her status as Manhattan’s preeminent cultural critic and style icon has remained unchanged for over four decades, as has her signature coif.

CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY, Judge (1921–2005) The prolific and badass Constance Baker Motley paved the way for African American women in law. After graduating from Columbia Law School, Motley was the first female attorney hired by the NAACP. During the fifties and sixties, she had a hand in almost every significant civil rights case, winning nine out of the ten cases that she argued in front of the Supreme Court. However, she is best known for being the first African American female federal judge, a position she held for nearly forty years.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Diane Keaton • Whoopi Goldberg • Lee Israel • Grace Coddington  • Angela Davis • Ruth Bader Ginsburg • Annie Lennox • Virginia Woolf  • Condoleezza Rice • Joan Didion • Dorothy Parker • Jodie Foster • Greta Garbo • Bea Arthur • Gloria E. Anzaldúa • Molly Ringwald  • Miuccia Prada • Eleanor Roosevelt • Lisa Simpson • Leslie Feinberg • Audre Lorde • Isabella Rossellini • Janeane Garofalo • Tori Amos • Grace Lee Boggs • The Wachowskis • Marie Curie • Urvashi Vaid • Amelia Earhart • Chelsea Manning • Rachel Dratch • Isabelle Huppert • Lynne Ramsay • Gertrude Stein • Jil Sander • Tilda Swinton • Rachel Maddow • Issa Rae • Daria Morgendorffer • Susan Sontag • Hedy Lamarr • Annemarie Schwarzenbach  • Billie Jean King • Judith Butler • Jenna Wortham • Gayatri Spivak  • Elizabeth Warren • Robyn Ochs


Excerpted from We Should All Be Mirandas by Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni. Copyright © 2019 by Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni. Reprinted by permission of HMH Books and Media. All rights reserved.