There comes a point in every woman’s life when she must decide what archetype she embodies. Is she the girl next door or the wanton whore? Is she the domestic goddess or the town witch? It’s not a proclamation that happens consciously, rather we stumble into it through a series of seemingly innocuous decisions- choosing to buy the black lace top versus the pastel cardigan, for example. (And yes, our identities are wholly defined by our choice in clothes.)
These archetypes of femininity, guideposts of identity, are rigidly defined. They are meant to corral women into easy-to-digest signifiers. But every so often, there emerges a public figure that derails these confines and challenges our own ideas of what is beauty and what it means to be feminine. Miss Piggy is such a figure. She is the patron saint of grotesque and girlish subversion. Her chocolate smeared face and designer wardrobe make her an irreverent, vain and power hungry role model.
When I was eight years old my mother bought me a beat up Miss Piggy doll from a homeless junkie on the street. The doll was sprawled out on the sidewalk dressed in a navy blue sequined dress and arm length satin gloves. My eyes watered at the sight of this glamorous hog. Despite her dismal surroundings (she was sandwiched between bootleg radios and bed bug infested outerwear) she had a look about her that said “Fuck you, I’m fabulous!”
Once we washed off the bloodstains and crack residue, the Missy Piggy doll looked fantastic. She was starry-eyed, overdressed, and ridiculous. While other girls were playing with svelte and perky Barbies, I was having tea time with my hot mess of a Piggy in tattered couture.
In hindsight, this was a formative experience that birthed an ungodly appreciation for vulgarity, kitsch, and bad taste. Demigod John Waters has said, “To me bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation. But one must remember that there is such a thing as good bad taste and bad bad taste.” Good bad taste is a My Little Pony themed apartment inhabited by a toothless hoarder and two hundred cats. Bad bad taste is a closet filled with Vineyard Vines polo shirts.
Miss Piggy has long been celebrated by the Fashion community as a style icon. She has served as muse for an episode of Project Runway, been the subject of articles chronicling her fashion evolution, and can be regularly seen on the red carpet interviewing Hollywood’s leading men. Her looks span from pristine Southerner to raunchy seductress. Like Madonna, Miss Piggy continually transcends herself. She is perpetually morphing into new and modern reiterations of her persona. She is impossible to pigeon hole yet is consistently her own.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.” Miss Piggy
Miss Piggy’s take it or leave it attitude extends to all facets of her life. Her indifference to the fetishism of thinness has always been ahead of its time. She encourages us to eat triple cheese calzones in our strapless Versace gowns. And in her marriage to a certain docile amphibian, Miss Piggy maintains her alpha status. Although it’s apparent that despite her bravado, her and Kermit maintain an equitable and loving relationship.
Miss Piggy pokes fun at gender roles in a unique way. She has a blast subverting clichés of womanhood and reminds us that being feminine is something we define for ourselves. Femininity means trusting our sense of humor and our intuition. Miss Piggy inspires us to nurture that side of ourselves that craves beauty in unexpected forms. She shows the world her splendid horror without shame or self doubt and in doing so has emerged as an empowering icon of self love.
Nathalia Perozo is a Chilean born poet and LGBT advocate. She received her MFA from The New School, and her BA in Comparative Literature from Queens College. Nathalia lives in New York City.