Being in show business for twenty years, I have observed people in the industry working very hard to be perceived a certain way. In fact, some celebs pay $20,000 a month to have someone help them be perceived the way they want. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t always pan out, especially with audiences becoming much more in tune to authenticity. From the get-go, I had a goal to remain down to earth and not change who I am in order to become successful in show business, and I, too, found myself working very hard to be perceived a certain way, unconsciously of course.
I would walk onto glamorous red carpets and observe celebrities trying way too hard to look beautiful and thought I would show the raw side of my personality and spice things up. I had just come off of being Playmate of the Year, so being sexy was boring to me. For the next three years I posed in designer dresses picking my nose or sticking my tongue out. Sometimes I even managed both. What a classy chick.
Mind you, I wasn’t playing a doctor on TV or running for office, I was being Jenny from “Singled Out” so I felt okay being a dirty bird. (For those twenty-year-olds reading this, I’m sorry you have no idea what “Singled Out” was. For those of you that do remember it, lets take a moment of silence for how old we have become.)
OK, so while I was having a ball being “myself,” I noticed that it was really hard to keep it up. In fact, I was exhausted trying to be “myself.” (As I’m typing this, I’m also performing the visual quote symbol one does when they are putting quotes on a word. Never gets old and quite fun.)
I guess I did a really good job of having everyone perceive me as this because every show I was on, the producers wanted me to tell a fart story or have me belch the alphabet. It got to the point that I became sick of myself. I began hating to do anything in public or do any talk shows because it was absolutely draining, and frankly, annoying. Robin Williams is a good example. I know you know what I mean. When you watch Robin Williams on a talk show it’s more uncomfortable than funny, and I don’t mean that to be disrespectful in any way. He is a really great guy but a victim of trying to keep up with what he thinks his collective perception is.
After three years of this, I decided to put an end to it. I vowed to be done picking my nose on the red carpet. I didn’t care if anyone didn’t like me. OK, yeah I did, but I had to take the leap of faith that people would figure out I was more than just boobs and boogers.
I will never forget my first red carpet as I introduced the public to other part of “myself” that I call boring Jenny (which I think is 65 percent of me, alright maybe 30 percent, but nonetheless still part of ME). As I walked and posed with just a simple smile, the red-carpet photographers began yelling at me. “Jenny, do something crazy!” “Jenny stick your tongue out!” I politely said back to them, “Nah, I just want to stand here in my pretty dress.” The majority of the photographers stopped taking photos. I stood there with one flash going off, instead of the usual barrage I was used to. I was scared. It took my breath away for a moment. I thought to myself, could this be it? Could I actually disappear off the face of the planet now that I’m not pulling my thong out of my ass in front of everyone? I kept my head up high and then thought, so be it. I am who I am and this is also who…I am.
I could have easily gone on with working that persona but if I was sick of me, the collective public wasn’t that far behind.
I soon became pregnant and was excited to take on the role of being a mother. Little did I know that it would be the most organic event to introduce the public to yet another side, the role of warrior mom – by far, my favorite part of “myself.” People were surprised to see the passion I had for my son. I’m not sure what they expected, but it was a relief to go on TV and talk about the joys and hardships of motherhood.
After writing six books about being a mom, I had an awakening. I realized that I wanted to get a little dirty again. The dirty bird was tweeting and wanted to come out and play. I told my agent that I wanted to do certain roles or take jobs that were sexy and fun again. As much as I loved the mom hat, I realized that just because you become a mom, you don’t drop the other parts of your personality. They are still there. They just come up again during different times in your life. My agent was not comfortable with me doing this. He said, “ You have no idea how fortunate you are to go from a Playmate to a highly acclaimed author in the mommy world. You can’t go backward.”
What I realized in that moment was that he was under the belief system that once people identify you in a certain way, you need to stick to that no matter what. I had flashbacks of watching A-list actors backstage crapping themselves before talk shows because they were gearing themselves up to keep up with their public persona, when I know they were dying to be their authentic selves. I did not want to be on that path. That scared the sh*t out of me.
I tried to explain to my agent that when we pigeonhole ourselves in other people’s perceptions of us, or identify ourselves as only one thing, it is the absolute kiss of death – not only to the perception people have of us, but also to our own soul. You don’t have to be in show business to relate! It’s true that we are all going through an awakening right now and demand authenticity out of everyone. So, why would you be anything but authentic in your own life?
I looked at my agent sternly, blinked a few times and finally said, “What I would like to do is take a big leap forward in mankind and introduce the public to what is called a human being. No human being consists of only one thing. I am…all things good and bad. I am…sad, happy, sweet, crazy, sexy, funny, smart, dumb, inspiring, generous, greedy, a hurt little girl, a kick-ass mom, an insecure woman, a spiritual student, a dirty bird, etc.
He looked at me and said, “Well, if anyone can get that message across, its you.”
Damn straight! With that, this year I posed for Playboy at the age of 39. As expected, it made news. Not because I was naked, but because girls my age don’t pose naked. Says who? Not me. Guess this summer I wanted to be a dirty bird showing off my twat and who knows, maybe next year I ‘ll write a book on quantum physics. Ya dig?
The reason I decided to write this blog today was because I just got off the phone from an interview. The journalist asked me to describe myself with one word. I laughed. How can anyone narrow themselves down into one word and be expected to live up to that one word?” I said, “I need at least two.”
She said, “Great, give me two words that describe Jenny McCarthy.”
I replied, “I am.”