Even if you never sat through an entire episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
(and that's a pity), the image of an empowered woman tossing her hat into the air, ready to take on the world, surely feels familiar. A chirpy theme song promised that she (and we) were "going to make it after all," and, lo and behold, she did. It took tamping down her male colleagues' inflated egos and testy temperaments, and trusting in her own professional instincts, but this woman persevered. And because of that, other women were inspired
to toss their own hats, if not into the air, then into the ring.
And now it's 2017, and that woman, Mary Tyler Moore
, has died. There have been countless tributes to Moore, who, in addition to being an entertainer, was a tireless activist for causes like animal rights and diabetes research. There will be countless more. The loudest of these tributes — fittingly, since we're coming off a weekend in which womanhood was celebrated so vigorously — are those hailing the actress' impact as the embodiment of the strong, independent career woman, blazing through stereotypes and workplace conventions.
As Mary Richards, Moore showed TV audiences that women could succeed and be validated outside of the home. She took birth control. She stood up to male colleagues and their sexist remarks. She put her career first, and never apologized for it. Young women, who grew up to be trailblazers like Michelle Obama
and Oprah Winfrey, watched and absorbed it all.
Later generations would follow the Mary Richards model with their own fictional career women, and today we think nothing of seeing a genuine girlboss grace our screens. The ability to "turn the world on with a smile" (with this
resting bitch face? ha!) is mercifully no longer something you'd put on your resume, but having that Mary Richards tenacity just might be.
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