The Supergirl Complex

Kelleigh Bannen, Nasty Gal Cape

I’m not Supergirl. And I don’t know any superheros. I know a lot of celebrities, but zero superheros.

Yes, I’m doing a post about not being Supergirl. Yes, I am wearing a cape. The world is full of contradictions.

My producer’s dad, Kyle Lehning, actually made a couple of albums with  Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman, but that’s beside the point.

This is Lynda.

Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman

What if you aren’t what everybody thinks you are? What if you’re not quite as fabulous, skinny, put together, quick witted, fashionable, talented….err, perfect? What if you aren’t actually Supergirl (or guy as the case may be?) And what if instead of trying to cover up all the “imperfection,” you could use your weaknesses as your greatest strength? What if being vulnerable, open, letting down the facade actually could give you the things you want: relationship, connection, inspiration…

Kelleigh Bannen

I’ve always been a ‘push the boulder up the hill’ kind of gal. I’ve always believed I was an under-dog in some way, but if I just worked harder, I could achieve to my goals. But part of my “work harder” mentality came with a perfection clause. It went like this, “if you just do everything exactly right, think things through from all angles,  if you’re really prepared, and hyper vigilant, then you can do everything the “right” way.

Let me tell you, that way of living really SUCKS. When I was first signed to EMI/Capitol back in 2011, I thought if I could just take in everything that everyone said about ‘why women aren’t working in country music,’ and become an expert in the field, I could figure it out. I could “fix it,” if I just worked hard enough, and did everything perfectly. I’d listen to stories my radio promo team would tell about other female artists, and I’d think, ‘OK, well don’t do that.”  Like it was that simple. Like it was just a puzzle. If I’m being honest, I probably thought I had WAY more control over the situation than I actually did. On the women-in-country-music front, I now believe it is a much bigger (potentially systemic) problem. But that doesn’t mean that it is without hope. 2015 was a shining example of great music finding a path to be heard, and of women getting a slightly larger slice of the country radio pie. But I don’t really want this post to be about ‘women in country.’ I want this post to be about not being perfect. And letting that imperfection work FOR you. Because I believe it will. If not in a “success” realm, then definitely in a “life” realm, and maybe both.

kelleigh bannen

When I started the blog, I thought a lot about the tension between needing things to look beautiful, and perpetuating an image that is unattainable. It’s a tricky balance because people look at blogs to see beautiful things (the term “aspirational” is used a lot) and you want to give people an inspirational reason to keep coming back. But for me, I also knew that I didn’t want the blog to be a place where people  would come and feel more shitty (sorry…I love Jesus, but sometimes I cuss) about themselves. I didn’t want people to come to the blog, and feel worse about their own life because I made them feel like my life was perfect….because my life isn’t perfect, and to make you feel like it is, wouldn’t be good for either of us.

So what if our greatest strength is not in being perfectly awesome, fashionable, smart, talented superguys and supergals, but our greatest strength is being honest. Vulnerable. Because it’s really hard to connect with someone who seems like their whole life is just handled. (Olivia Pope style.) Just going exactly according to plan. I don’t believe we connect to people via our awesomeness, we connect with people via our brokenness. So what if that is our secret super-power?

kelleigh bannen

AND here’s the best part. If we can live like that’s actually true, than we have a little less to be afraid of….because what’s the big deal if we fail a little bit here, or fall down a little bit there? If we re-order the standard away from perfection, then we’re free to experiment: we’re free to mess up. Which means we’re free to risk things in ways we never were before. Have you ever heard someone say (or seen the bumper sticker that reads) “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”   Well, I was listening to the ‘Magic Lessons” podcast a few days ago, and it was a conversation between Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Big Magic, and Eat Pray Love) and Brene Brown (author of Daring Greatly, and giver of one of the best TED talks EVER) and they were talking about this quote.  And Brene reframed this concept in the best way.  She said “what’s worth doing even if I fail?” What if “failing” or the fear of not doing something perfectly lost it’s power. What could we do then? I’ll be honest, I’m in a season where I’m having to make some big, rather intimidating choices. At times I’m afraid I’m “doing it wrong,” but I’m trying to believe there’s no such thing. And I want that for you too.

Perfection. It’s a bird. It’s a plane…it’s make believe.

Just because I’m not Supergirl, doesn’t mean I don’t love a good cape.

Kelleigh Bannen, This Nashville Life

Kelleigh Bannen, This Nashville Life

Kelleigh Bannen, This Nashville Life

Kelleigh Bannen, This Nashville Life

Kelleigh Bannen, This Nashville Life

Shop the looks from this post here:

I LOVE this cape. It’s dramatic, it’s a little over the top…but it’s black so you can get away with it.  Lucie Silvas was wearing this bad boy at a show we both played recently. To die for.  Here’s a short one. A pair of great leather pants are an investment, but it’s a really great thing to have in your closet. Here’s a coated denim pair that are great too, and more affordable. I’m experimenting with body chains lately. This one’s on sale. This one is crazy cool. This one is under $10.

4 Comments on The Supergirl Complex

  1. Kevin Kind Songs
    December 29, 2015 at 5:25 pm (1 year ago)

    Wow, this is turning out to be a very odd/unique “voice”/blog….personna. “You go gurl!”

    Hmm? A lot here. Not sure how to address some of these issues – succinctly….but always up for a challenge.

    Easy stuff out of the way first…love the style and fashion…every business is a visual, fashion business now…great sense of style on here…bet someone’s Mom and Dad are good dressers too. That’s the simple part.

    OK, so unpacking all this – there are personal, social, business and creative/expressive dimensions. Each one is a whole topic and useful to look at separately.

    But artists, perhaps uniquely, combine all off these areas and do so the most publicly possible! For my art/songs – all of these come into play and come into play very practically in creating something that is authentic and hooks my audience – in 3 1/2 mins!

    It’s a very elegant puzzle and “dance” to make them all work to tell a compelling story. Big fun and hard work!

    For women the complexity is even greater but also, maybe more, rewarding. I don’t see guys reaching any where the emotional depth that a woman singer-songwriter can. There is more to this but another comment…

    What I see is that there is NOTHING more important then a woman, all women, any women – finding her personal identity — as a role, person, professional or artist. But there is nothing more impossible for my women friends, at all ages.

    I also think this is unique to American women. EU women seems much less neurotic about all this. Everyone of my women friends, is bright, beautiful, competent, accomplished and they ALL say they feel – empty. Yes, e-m-p-t-y. Guess that is going to be a song title!

    the reason is simple, their lives are filled with doing for everyone else and empty of the most important person – THEM! Duh…

    I think, THAT is the topic of this post and also has important hard-headed, immediately practical implications for a woman’s professional work, social role and art/songs.

    So there. Finally, all good things, including elegance in fashion and great art songs, success in making money comes from the inside out, never outside in – sadly…damnit…..sigh…

    (end of sermon) damn – another good song title!!

    Reply
  2. Kevin Kind Songs
    December 29, 2015 at 5:30 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh yeah…..I am Irish so go on and on and on…

    the problem with the business discussions is we have nothing objective, data-based and proven to talk about. All we have is a bunch of people swapping opinions which are totally subjective. Number one – who really knows why something works or doesn’t and even if any of us COULD identify what works or doesn’t for us – how do we know it will generalize to any one else?

    We don’t and there is no data or hard facts to help us make sense of what is happening…trust me, I scan for useful information on the music biz all the time…

    Reply
  3. Debi Morse
    December 29, 2015 at 9:24 pm (1 year ago)

    I really enjoyed this topic and can related a lot. I recently saw a new doctor who told me I need to quit trying to go at 120% or I am going to get hurt. That things aren’t just black and white, sometimes they are gray. That I need to not try so hard to have everything perfect. It is going to be a struggle but I will try. I love the statement about not being Supergirl but loving a cape. THAT should be a bumper sticker. Love the look and chains.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Kind Songs
    December 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm (1 year ago)

    I wrote this lyric few years ago, about my women friends:

    Perfect

    Her phone shakes inside, his message, his call
    His picture, his name, down her screen it falls
    She is on fire, crazy desire, know one knows

    Chorus
    She wants it all and she wants it all perfect
    no defects, none at all
    All her life, everything has been just perfect
    no flaws, none at all

    Her life, her loves, jewels, gloves, all perfect, heavenly,
    designer only
    She never stumbles, no foot ever is put wrong
    nothing falls, never lonely

    C: and each nite, falling asleep, she knows,
    Some-thing is not right, something calls
    From outside her world, a man,
    a place inside, no choice at all
    she cries, she aches, she’ll fall

    Stretched beside the pool, perfect legs out before,
    Diamond on her finger, no one could want more
    But inside, a fire, a craving a war
    Something imperfect, she can’t ignore

    C

    She wants it all and she wants it all perfect
    no defects, none at all
    All her life, everything has been just perfect
    no flaws, none at all

    She wants it all and she wants it all perfect – no defects, none at all
    Since she was born everything has just been perfect, no flaws, none at all

    Reply

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