I remember being about 10 years old and hearing Madonna for the first time. I can’t remember the exact song, but I loved it just the same. I didn’t know what she looked like, but I was drawn to her in some way. And then there she was. On the Canadian video hits channel. We didn’t have cable, so no MTV. Just this. This is how I was able to connect to the music I loved so much. It worked. I saw her, and I was in love, I think. I was absolutely mesmerized by this woman and I wanted to be her. Something about her hit me hard. It didn’t have anything to do with how she dressed or what she looked like. It was just her. I remember drawing her from the cover of the TV Guide. And I colored it in with magic markers. I showed this drawing to my dad, and I was beaming with pride. He looked at my drawing, and then looked at me and said, “I think you should find a better role model.” I couldn’t understand this really. Why? What’s wrong with Madonna? It didn’t seem to faze me too much. I’d save my allowance and pick up an issue of “Teen Beat” and rip out her photos and hang them on my wall. I’d look at them and wonder what it was like to be so perfect.
Fast forward a few years to my teens. I was struggling to find my way and she was still there. I listened to her, I dressed like her, and I took her “I don’t care what anyone thinks” attitude as my own. There were times when I wanted to jump out of my skin and into hers, so I could be adored my millions instead of laughed at by millions, or so it seemed anyway. So many times I’d be in a horrible and humiliating situation at school, where I’d be the center of attention and the “popular” kids would be making me the punch line of their joke of the day. I’d say to myself , “what would Madonna do?” And as much as I was hurting, I carried on, because she sure as hell would. I lived as she would have. Fearlessly. I felt horrible inside as she must have, but on the outside, I did what Madonna did. I bought every album. Actual albums. I danced to her music in my room and I forgot the world and my problems. What would Madonna do? She would go on. Fuck what anyone else said. She would go on. So I had to.
As the years went on, her influence on me was less, and as she got older and was still doing the same things, I grew tired. “Music” was the last cd I bought and I started thinking, “That’s enough Madonna, that’s enough.” Her influence in my life was extraordinary. But it was time for me to let it go.
Fast forward again to 2013, and I get a call from my mom, who just came from a family get together to discuss our family tree. “Guess what?” She said. “You are Madonna’s 8th cousin.” I sat there on the phone speechless while I tried to wrap my head around this. I think I may have stopped breathing for a moment, but I came back to life in the most amazing way. How could little me be related to this amazing woman that kept me alive through the most difficult part of my existence? It was a fact, and again, she has helped me go forward. In a different and real way this time.
Admiring Madonna has helped me become the woman I am. I’ve never been afraid to express myself and I’ve always been comfortable with my femininity and my sexuality. I owe these things to her. She’s always been a part of me, but now I know she really is. It’s almost like the teenaged Jodie has come to life again, but more powerful this time. If I have Madonna’s blood in my veins, I can achieve greatness. I hold that ambition, that strength and that beauty inside of me. I guess I’ve had it all the time. I just needed a little nudge. What would Madonna do? Now it’s more like, what would Jodie do? And the answer is, whatever she wants. Thanks for a lifetime of inspiration, cuz 🙂