GLOW in the Dark – How a Late Night Ladies’ Wrestling Show Taught Me Girl Power

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I am a certified child of the ’80s. I’m in that sweet spot just between Gen X and Millennial, so I mainly observed the more fun parts of the decade from the sidelines. I count myself lucky, though, because I picked up on a lot of the girl power of the ’80s. I wanted to be a combination of Princess Leia, Wonder Woman, and She-Ra. Depending on the day, I either wanted to be Jem or one of the Misfits. And then I discovered wrestling.

I came to wrestling, as I imagine many kids of the time did, through Cyndi Lauper. She featured many stars of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in her videos. She even managed Wendi Richter at the first Wrestlemania. If she thought wrestling was cool, then so did I. I was also a fan of Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling on Saturday mornings, though I typically enjoyed the live-action sequences more than the animated ones. I was drawn to the drama, the action, and the utter spectacle of it all. I was drawn to the female wrestlers, though I didn’t have as many to choose from as we do today.

I honestly don’t remember the first time I discovered GLOW, at least in terms of the year or where I lived at the time. I remember it was late at night, probably after Friday Night Videos or some syndicated show that my mom let me stay up way too late to watch. It blew my tiny mind. Remember when I said I wanted to be She-Ra, Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Jem, and the Misfits? This was exactly that! Women of all shapes and sizes in brightly-colored clothes, big hair, and gorgeous makeup were wrestling. They were strong, they were funny, they rapped poorly! I was fascinated. I don’t recall catching GLOW on TV a bunch, but I remember watching it a few times at least.

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I didn’t fully appreciate what I was seeing until I revisited it as an adult, but I always perked up whenever I heard someone mention GLOW. It wasn’t something many people I’ve encountered were aware of, but most people that did watch it were fans. In 2016, my husband and I were visiting a friend in Connecticut, and while there attended Hartford Comiconn. It just so happened that Hollywood from the original GLOW was a guest. On the second day of the convention I mustered up enough courage to talk with her. I caught her just as the convention was beginning, and I talked with her for a long time. She asked me what drew me to the show as a kid, because normally men are the main convention attendees that stop at her table. I told her I was a fan of the wrestling, and that I loved the costumes and makeup. (If you watch the Netflix show, in season 2, Melrose talks about how she only gets fan mail from little girls who love her hair and makeup. I can’t help but laugh every time I see that because I wonder if Hollywood had that experience back in the day.) She asked me why I was at the convention, and I told her that my husband and our friend were selling art. Her face brightened, and she asked me to take her to the table so she could see it. She stood at our table and talked to me for another 20 minutes or so, some about the show, some about living in Nashville, something I knew a little about since I lived near there as a kid. She said that I should look her up if I ever made it back there. She gave me the warmest hug as we said our goodbyes before she headed back to her table. She waved at me a couple more times when I walked past her table, and it totally made my day.

Watching the documentary Lipstick and Dynamite and the official GLOW documentary, I became enamored with every lady that chooses to wrestle. It is serious business, and just like their male counterparts, many of them have paid dearly for their chosen profession. They are inspiring as hell, especially since I’ve started being more serious about my own fitness. Every time I lift more weights than I did the week before or beat my own personal push-up record, I do it mostly for myself, but a little bit for the gorgeous, strong, dynamic ladies that graced my TV screen who taught me that you don’t have to be dainty and genteel to be a gorgeous lady.

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1 Comment

  1. I have fond memories of watching GLOW as a kid. I am sure part of it was the gorgeous ladies part, but I also loved the characters and comedy part just as much. I have had a few interactions with Hollywood and she is a truly nice person and that makes me even a bigger fan (as does hearing your personal story). Like you said, not everybody watched it back in the day and some don’t realize the Netflix series was loosely based on a real thing, but GLOW is certainly a great piece of ’80s nostalgia for me as well.

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