Atalantas- aka, Most of Us

Last week I stumbled across this article. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, I’ll mention some highlights:

“JWT, the largest advertising agency in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world, has named the top 25 women it defines as Atalantas.

Atalantas, a consumer group newly identified by JWT, are young women who embrace their independence: They are confident, passionate, adventuresome and unwilling to settle for anything less than the best. They neither conform to negative stereotypes of single women (cold, lonely or sad) nor do they pursue the excesses of less discriminating peers like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

These women represent a growing segment of the young female demographic, notes Marian Salzman, executive vice president, chief marketing officer of JWT Worldwide.”

Um … “newly identified?” “Growing segment?” So advertising agencies are just beginning to notice at least 75% of all women?

Now, the whole concept of an “Atalanta” is kind of cool. Atalanta was a mythological figure who was abandoned in the forest because her father wanted a son and was raised by hunters and a bear. She was also a very fast runner, and would only marry a man who could outrun her. When she finally did meet a man she wanted to marry, he beat her in a race with some help from Aphrodite, which she was totally okay with. But not after all the other suitors were executed for failing to beat her.

So basically, Atlanta was strong and independent and wouldn’t settle—qualities any girl would want. And qualities that most of the girls I know have.

Now, I am by no means a hard-core feminist, but really. It just floors me that ad agencies are just realizing that, gasp! Not all women are Bridget Jones or Paris Hilton! Some of us don’t just sit around pining over guys—we go out and have lives. And “having a life” doesn’t mean partying all the time. It means having a career, friends, and interests. It means wanting a man in your life but not obsessing over it. It means having fun without being a drunk slut.

Women have made a huge amount of progress in a very short amount of time. Fifty years ago, many women only went to college to get their MRS degree. Now there are more women in college than men. Domestic violence is generally recognized as unforgivable and unacceptable. And the majority of high school valedictorians are girls.

And yet women continue to be stereotyped in the media. If they’re not flighty Bridget Jones-types, they’re ice queen career women or manipulative vixens.

And moreover, they can never have it all. Men can have a great career and a loving family and friends and hobbies, but women always have to give something up. Recently, I was complaining to my friends about the movie Freedom Writers. I did like the movie, but just once, I would like to see a movie where a woman accomplishes something huge with her significant male standing by her and supporting her all the way. Now, granted, Freedom Writers is based on a true story, so there was probably no way of getting around it, but I know that if it was a story about a man, he’d have a loving wife supporting him all the way. I feel like half the nominations for Best Supporting Actress in any given year are “wife of” characters.

It’s kind of funny that they felt the need to name 25 celebrities to define “Atalanta.” While people like Julia Stiles, Alexis Bledel, and Rachel Bilson are all very cool, you don’t need to come up with a list of celebrities to define this term. “Atalanta” could describe almost every woman I know. And even though it’s stupid that advertisers haven’t noticed this segment of the population before now, being an Atalanta is something to be proud of.

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