Eyes rolled, indignation reached epic proportions and nearly- unanimous cries of “No. She. DIDN’T!” swirled around water coolers and permeated the blogosphere.
To keep it real, the author of those words, former volleyball star and fitness expert Gabrielle Reece, is co-signing 100 percent.
“In hindsight, maybe ‘submissive’ wasn’t the best word, so I can see where people had some very definitive opinions about it,” said Reece, who spoke with me by phone to explain the purpose of those words within the context of her best-selling book, My Foot Is Too Big for the Glass Slipper: A Guide to the Less Than Perfect Life.
“The first couple of days, I was frustrated because I had been as forthcoming as possible, and suddenly I’m getting hammered for the wrong thing,” Reece continued. “I did call the producers who, I shouldn’t say started it, but who picked out that one passage, and said, ‘Hey you guys, you helped me to sell a lot of books, but you’ve now put me into a hole that I’ve had to dig my way out of.’”
Our connection happened after her team sent her a link to my April 26 Briefing column.
“I don’t go around sending books to just whoever and saying ‘Read the book and then we’ll talk,’ but occasionally there will be a situation, for whatever reason, that the message was taken out of context and the comments being said I actually agree with. You had a specific opinion about that line and I told my team, ‘Here’s someone who took a decent amount of time to write an expanded idea on the idea of the “submissive” context, and I’d like for her to have the whole thing.’ I’m not expecting people to agree with me about the whole book, but at least we’ll share the whole message.”
And after receiving the book, I can happily report that Glass Slipper is as far from being a “Team Doormat Man-Worshipping Manual” as one can get.
Written by: Melody Charles
When it comes to sacred subjects like marriage and motherhood, most of us are eager to lighten our loads as and look forward to reading, or seeing, what the rich and famous say about how they keep it together….until their words are construed as a burden that can only make things worse. That’s what happened last month when former model and volleyball superstar turned fitness expert, Gabrielle Reece, released her second book and latest best-seller, My Foot Is Too Big For the Glass Slipper: A Guide To The Less-Than-Perfect Life, and found herself being raked over the coals for using a simple word—”submissive.”
Um, yeah….didn’t exactly go over well. Instead of delving into the other aspects of her memoir, the 43-year-old wife and mother found herself defending and re-explaining the context while being accused of setting back the feminism she’s always been a champion of.
Recently, in an effort to clear the air and flesh out the true purpose of the book, Ms. Reece spoke one-on-one with us about what she meant, what she’s learned in her life’s journey and why women need each other now more than ever before.
MELODY CHARLES- I love the book and it’s an honor to chat with you today, thanks Ms. Reece.
GABRIELLE REECE- “You’re welcome, I appreciate you taking the time and to being open to reading it.”
MC- You never struck me as a Stepford Wife, so why do you think that one paragraph got so out of control as far as representing you and your memoir?
It’s just that the conversation didn’t start off well and I didn’t even anticipate starting off there
GR- “ I thought the media was going to pick up on the fact that it’s about aging, friendships, relationships ….I could’ve never anticipated that the discussion was going to be almost completely initiated through the ‘submissive’ part. It didn’t occur to me, to be honest. I realized that the topic, not me necessarily, hits a nerve and women became upset. I believe in being in your male zone as a woman, I totally believe in that. It’s just that the conversation didn’t start off well and I didn’t even anticipate starting off there. I had to be careful and not start back-peddling because I thought it would look even worse.”
MC- I think what irritated so many women was that it seemed as though you were speaking about all the work you were doing as a spouse, while your husband (professional surfer Laird Hamilton) sat there and reaped all of the one-sided benefits. Submission is fine as long as it’s not one-sided, and that’s exactly the way it came across.
GR- (laughing) “He’s gotten a lot better with the ‘moody’ thing and is soooo much cooler now. He’s been doing his half (in the marriage): he’s not this macho guy saying ‘Hey woman, dinner at 6,’ that’s not even part of the idea. when I was younger, it made me feel like he was on one team and I was on another. Now, he’s better at expressing ‘It’s not you, I’m just going through something.’
MC- I’ve got a moody man who’s a water sign too, I feel you on that. Can you expound on what you meant about using your ‘female’ energy and that man/woman dynamic thing?
GR- “We’re much more adaptable and we have to remember that there are issues that men have to contend with that are challenging for them, if not for us. As far as relationships go, it’s like, ‘how do we shift the ideal of how we relate to each other?’ If you’re powerful enough to step aside and say, ‘I’ll go out of my way for you and see it from your side,’ then you just have to hope that others around you function with that same code. And if they don’t, they gotta go. After a certain point, it becomes foolish on your part [to stick around] and that’s what I want to teach to my daughters. Laird also talked about mutual respect and other ideas round that too, but they didn’t want to mention that!”
MC- What inspired The Glass Slipper…?
GR- “At size 12, my foot’s too big, but in reality, no one’s foot fits that proverbial glass slipper, because it doesn’t exist. The purpose of my book was to create a conversation, to say ‘Hey, I’m going to show you who I am, what’s going on in my life and how I’ve arrived at some of these places so you can reexamine where you are and say ‘who am I? what exactly do I need and want?’ And to be secure and move forward with that plan.
For 20 years I’ve written about health nutrition, and I always say there is no one right way, but what I want to help you do is to get in that position to say ‘Do I want to work out in the gym, or do I want to work out outside? Do I want to eat like a vegetarian, or do I want to eat animal protein?’ What is it that makes you feel good or gets you energized? The book isn’t about me telling anyone how to live, it’s about opening up a conversation. I have a great life, and there are certain perceptions about that, so I thought to myself, ‘this is the perfect place to talk about it.’”
MC- So how do you actually feel as far as relating to men and how marriages should go?
GR- “If we [women] do decide to take this on and be married and have children, it’s always going to be more unfair to us, I believe. Women have to steer [relationships] because we’re aware enough and complex enough to go, ‘I don’t want to have an antagonistic relationship with my partner. I don’t want to one-up him.’ Sometimes it’s about coming to terms with what you can let go of: guys don’t care about all of those details, but because you’ve put it on your plate, you care. It’s like with my husband, there’s chaos going on, the girls are in polka dots and stripes but he’s like, ‘Whatever. Did they eat? Yeah. Are they safe? Yeah. Do their outfits match? No. Is their hair perfectly brushed? No.’ To him, that’s what’s important.
MC- You’re so authentic and down-to-Earth, it means a lot to us ladies that are already doing the best we can that a world-famous and super-successful woman is out here telling the world that her life isn’t as pristine as everybody thinks.
GR- “I feel that culturally, we’re already so combative: people are already rude and snarky and there’s little real communication that’s not a text message anymore. I feel as if [wanting a perfect image] is what got us posting pictures on Facebook about so-called perfection, and it’s getting so out of control and people are becoming more and more like, what my volleyball coach once said, ‘all sizzle no steak.’ If we’re really gonna be happy, or at peace, you can’t be comparing you whole life to someone else’s,’ who gives a s***?” We women are very tough on each other and we can subtly enhance each other instead. It’s important because we do so much, and the book was about fostering that spirit too.”