A lot of things happened to me the year that I turned forty.I won't go into most of them here because they were pretty personal. One thing that I do want to share is my new-found love for Elizabeth Taylor.
I want to make this clear first. I have never seen any of her movies. The most I know about her I learned from the tabloids in the late 1980's when they kept calling her fat and made fun of her for marrying Larry Fortensky. I knew she was a friend of Michael Jackson and she did a lot of charity work for AIDS research. I knew she was a Hollywood icon and one of the last of a dying breed, but I've never been really interested in watching her films.
On March 21, 2011, Elizabeth Taylor passed away at the age of 79. Hollywood mourned. It didn't mean much to me other than the passing of another huge celebrity (I was more torn up when Peter Steele from Type O Negative died).
A few days later, I was bored and surfing through the channels on television and came across the Biography Channel's tribute to Elizabeth (she hated being called Liz). I normally wouldn't have watched a show like this, but there wasn't much else on so I decided to give it a try.
In two short hours, I decided who I wanted to be and why.
Elizabeth Taylor Lived Her Life On Her Terms
|Studio Publicity Photo (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons|
Elizabeth Taylor began her career as a kid, which may be why she did so well in Hollywood in her adult years. She made many movies, some were hits and some weren't. She played Cleopatra, she played innocents, she was a seductress - she was a versatile actor that could take on virtually any role. But it was her personal life that interested me.
She was married eight times to seven different men. She was always in the tabloids for dating this guy or having rumored affairs with the other one. She even caught heat from the Vatican for fooling around with Richard Burton when they were both married to other people. You really have to be somebody to draw the pope's attention!
The thing that got me was that she did the things she did in an age where women weren't supposed to be worldly. They were supposed to be good, loyal little housewives that catered to their husbands needs. To me, Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first women to say "The hell with that." It was something she would do over and over.
I'm not saying that I want to have seven more marriages. I'm not even sure I want to get married again, even if I found the perfect guy (unless Phil Anselmo is available). What I am saying is that, after I watched that documentary, I was left with the feeling that I could be who I've always wanted to be. I don't have to cater to what society thinks a 40-something female should be. I don't have kids, I'm not married and working a 9 to 5 career and putting my family on the back burner like so many career minded women are choosing to do. I don't spend my Sundays in a church that I feel obligated to attend.
In no way do I want to be Elizabeth Taylor, and I'm not kidding myself in believing that I could ever really be like her. What she gave me, though, was the courage and confidence to become who I really am. I'm still working on that. I still have doubts and questions. But, whenever I come across a particularly difficult decision, I ask myself "What Would Elizabeth Taylor Do?"
I have a feeling that she won't steer me wrong.