Last night I emailed my publisher that I would be wearing my “Emma Peel dress” to the video shoot. My publisher, dear Malena, is way too young to know who Emma was, but I feel the need to explain. Emma was to my generation what Lara Croft was to younger girls: a strong female image who was still … attractive and female.
As one tiny, limber and very sure-of-herself half of the 1960s Avengers, Emma Peel (Aka the actress, Diana Rigg) meant that a girl could grow up to be strong, to conquer the bad guys, but still look like I wanted to look.
Yes, you can attack Hollywood for putting a size one model-type in the role, but in those days all the strong women were walking around looking as masculine as they could. They got short, man-style hairdos and wore boxy, man-style suits. Not much of an image a little girl will buy into.
Then came Emma, with ocassional karate kicks, leather and her signature catsuits, yellows and greens. She made us want to be strong. When you look back on those old shows, she truly wasn’t that tough, positively a wimp by modern standards, but she set the stage for later heroines. And she didn’t mind being a woman.
Did I look like Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel in that dress? Not a chance–but it still made me feel strong.