Mary Tyler Moore Offered Empowerment To Those Who Are Single by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press
There are several reasons I didn’t get married until I was 35, but I can honestly attribute one of them to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which I watched regularly with my family while growing up during the ’70s.
As a kid, I idolized Moore’s character, Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, who died last week at the age of 80. Mary Richards was a single woman and TV news producer who was not only beautiful and smart, but fiercely independent, unafraid to express herself and very happily single. She was unlike any other female character on television at the time.
Mary was always smiling and perky, yet she was professional and well respected, even by her tough but lovable boss, Lou. Mary showed her silly, lighthearted side at times – like in the episode when Chuckles the Clown died and she couldn’t stop laughing at the funeral. But, she also seemed to be the station’s problem solver, the go-to girl, and the person the rest of the show’s wacky characters depended on immensely. Mary was the glue that held the news team and her friends together.
When it came to Mary’s love life, I vaguely remember a few episodes when she went on dates. What I do recall is that she always seemed to be counseling other people about their relationship issues. It was evident that Mary didn’t need to be in a relationship. It wasn’t a priority for her. She was career-driven and just wanted to enjoy life and be happy.
It’s a little ironic that I found myself at age 32, single and working as a TV news reporter in Minnesota. Was I aiming to be the Mary Richards of the late 1990s? Maybe. All I know is her powerful character had more influence on me than I realized. Looking back, I think Mary taught me (and millions of other young women) that not only is it OK to be single, but despite society’s expectation for women to get married and have babies, women can also be happy and successful without being in a romantic relationship. Mary showed the female world how to empower ourselves and how to love ourselves with or without a ring on our finger.
In honor of Mary Tyler Moore, I asked a bunch of people – both single and married, what the benefits are of not being in a relationship. Here is some of what they had to say:
• There is something peaceful about the kind of independence that comes with being single.
• You don’t have to worry about another person’s family. That includes in-laws and kids.
• You never have to watch the Bravo network or Lifetime movies.
• You eat healthier – not like a man. You can cook whatever you want to cook.
• You learn to validate yourself and do things on your own terms rather than doing them for someone else. Once you find that strength to be able to be alone, it ultimately leads to eliminating drama, the kind that you cannot control, but are impacted by.
• After my divorce, I rented a house for my two daughters and myself. This was one of the happiest times of my life! We were a house of happy females. Every day brought another lesson on independence, my own efficacy. At times I astounded myself with how much I could do without a spouse. It is little victories, daily confirmations of one’s strength, effectiveness and ability to not only survive but to thrive that I value most about not being in a relationship.
• You can lie in the center of the bed and spread out and turn as much as you’d like.
• You can eat cereal for dinner in front of the TV.
• No pressure to shave your legs.
• It’s obvious. Two words: toothpaste tube!
Most single people I know – divorced or never been married – wish they were in a relationship. I think it’s just human nature to want to give and receive love, to desire a connection and to have someone who feels like a partner.
That said, what most single people don’t realize is how to take advantage and how to actually enjoy not being in a relationship. Being “alone” is scary to most people and I think that is very sad.
With being “alone” for a period of time comes a sense of independence that fosters self-pride. You think you are really lonely, but then you look in the mirror at times and think, ‘Wow, I’m doing this. I’m totally fine by myself. I didn’t think I could handle being single again but I did.’ It is a feeling of bravery that fosters self-love.
My advice to those who are unhappily single is to tap into your Mary Richards. We all have a little bit of her in us, which includes the courage to be alone if it’s the right thing, the confidence to stand tall and live up to all you can be, and a passion for joy and laughter and fulfillment, regardless of your relationship status. Who can turn the world on with her smile? You can. You’re gonna make it after all!
Like this article? Check out, “Dating After Divorce: Advice, Tips, and Why This Is An Exciting Time”