03.23.14 10:45 AM ET
Miss Piggy Leans In
Over the years, Miss Piggy has been faulted for her clingy, seemingly obsessive relationship with Kermit the Frog. His unwillingness to marry her and settle down has only increased her fervor. Miss Piggy is so desperate, many think. So how does this longingness for acceptance and attention by a male figure a true feminist make?
Since her emergence on the television screen in the mid-seventies, Miss Piggy has been one of Hollywood’s reigning divas, overcoming and surpassing her years as a nameless swine in a male-dominated group. Her roots were humble and tinged with tragedy. “She grew up in a small town in Iowa; her father died when she was young, and her mother wasn't that nice to her,” Frank Oz told The New York Times in 1979. “She had to enter beauty contests to survive, as many single women do. She has a lot of vulnerability which she has to hide, because of her need to be a superstar." But Miss Piggy persevered, transforming her culpabilities into a successful career and becoming an icon to countless generations.
It was her confident and aggressive personality that first earned Miss Piggy a reputation as the Gloria Steinem of the Muppet world. She is the perfect dichotomy of strength and femininity—she doesn’t take any shit from anybody (either physically or mentally), all the while still maintaining an incredibly glamorous persona. She’s a working woman, with a career ranging from acting as the face of a M.A.C. Cosmetics campaign to serving as a bonafide journalist and a fashion magazine editor in The Muppet Movie. In 1981, Miss Piggy penned her own self-help/advice book, Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, which, naturally, was a New York Times bestseller for 29 weeks. Her words of wisdom are as sharp and to-the-point as she is: on style, “Style comes in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, the bigger you are, the more style you have”; on dating, “There is only one gift you should accept on your first date—diamonds”; and on beauty, “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.”
It’s Miss Piggy’s advice on weight and dieting, however, that has truly infatuated audiences and solidified her status as a feminist icon. She uses her large stature to her advantage, claiming “too much exercise can damage your health.” In tabloids, Miss Piggy’s looks and size have often been given negative connotations, when celebrities like Adele, Jessica Simpson, and pre-weight loss Christina Aguilera are compared to her. Yet, if you asked Miss Piggy about weight loss or dieting, she’d simply say “never eat more than you can lift.”
In a 2011 interview, funny woman Chelsea Handler asked Miss Piggy about her weight and classification as “plus-size.” "If by plus you mean I have an extra fabulous, gorgeous give me some of that figure, then yes,” Miss Piggy responded. “If you mean fat, then no.” She struts her stuff and knows she is so goddamn beautiful, the same way feminist-favorite Lena Dunham parades around in the nude on her hit-show Girls. They don’t care if their bodies aren’t perfect. And why should they?
While the foundation remains the same, the definition of feminism has changed over the years. It has come to mean more than a simple equality between sexes; it is now a larger cultural examination of how women treat each other and themselves. It celebrates power and strength, self-confidence and satisfaction, but also the prerogative to still care about seemingly-superficial ideals such as sexual relationships or physical appearance.
No one, be it other Muppets, society, the love of her life “Kermee,” or even, yes, Sheryl Sandberg, has the ability to dictate Miss Piggy’s choices. When asked how she felt about the word “bossy” in relation to Sandberg’s latest “Ban Bossy” campaign, Miss Piggy replied, “[Bossy] is not something that I ever have a problem with…I just let people know that I know karate. And then they just do what I want.”
Today, more than ever, Miss Piggy’s ideals regarding style, beauty, relationships, food, confidence, and authenticity display a strong example of feminism. While her relationship with Kermit the Frog may be a subject of scrutiny, since when couldn’t feminists fall in love?
"When you are in love with someone, you want to be near him all the time,” she once said, “except when you are out buying things and charging them to him."
Sure sounds like girl power to me. Preach, Miss Piggy.