Last week, I squeezed my Spanx-sheathed arse into a size 6 Armani dress from 10 years ago (postpartum triumph!) and prayed that no one would notice the length was all wrong. I was headed to the 4th Important Dinner for Women at Cipriani 42nd Street.
“I think I am the only one here wearing shorts,” Helena Christiansen said, pointing to her trendariffic outfit, as we made our way to our tables after cocktails.
“That’s funny,” I answered. “I just joked that I’m the only one here with a Metrocard in my purse.”
She laughed. Then stopped short.
“Wait…did you say a MasterCard?”
I thanked her for making my point.
I would describe the event as a gathering of 300 incredibly important and influential women from around the world, all to support the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and CARE. Or rather, a roomful of 299 incredibly important and influential women.
Or as Cindy Adams, the gossip columnist, said to me, Wait, there are BLOOOOOOGGERS here?
No. Just me.
And don’t test your Botox trying to raise those eyebrows so high, Cindy.
(I kid. She actually looks awesome for 108.)
You couldn’t swing a New York Post without hitting a boldfaced name in that room. I took a picture of the bar and realized Martha Stewart was in the shot. I randomly aimed my iPhone at the crowd and whoa, there’s Diane Von Furstenburg chatting with Sarah Ferguson. It was that kind of night.
And it was just my luck to be seated at the table next to all the supermodels. Like, first name super models, all of whom continue to look awesome: Helena. Christy. Iman. And on the other side of of me, Melania. Wearing a ring that was bigger than my children when they were born. To my left was the event’s hostess and Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi with Trudie Styler. A few tables away I could spot Nicole Kidman. In front of me was Andrea Mitchell and then a little to the right, Naomi Campbell. Plus a few dozen gorgeous African women in simply spectacular outfits.
At that point, I decided what the heck, no one was there to look at me. I was going to eat the bread on the table, order the pasta, and have the dessert. Two desserts. Yeah.
I did thank goodness I was seated next to the one other tech-type person in the room, the uber-cool Rebecca Handler of Wikipedia who also ate the dessert. And kept me laughing. And was generally awesome. And then Rebecca pointed out Gayle. You know, Oprah’s Gayle. Standing right next to us and looking swanky in silver.
All the while I keep thinking, hi! It’s me, Liz! Maybe you’ve heard of me? I was in the 1984 Mamaroneck High School production of Guys and Dolls – Hotbox Girl #2? I’m sure you remember.
What was actually cool about the event was that it wasn’t all about the gawking and me taking embarrassingly bad pictures on my iPhone. The women there were genuinely, profoundly interested in committing themselves to the cause of reducing global maternal mortality rates, as long as childbirth remains the leading cause of death of young women around the world.
(Think about that. That’s insane.)
I was incredibly moved by the speeches from the hosts – Wendy Murdoch whose own grandmother died in childbirth, Indra Nooyi, Queen Rania of Jordan, Diana Taylor, and the remarkable First Lady of the UK, Sarah Brown who wowed me when she said, “If women hold up half the sky, shouldn’t men hold up the other half?”
It’s true; this is not just a woman’s issue. This is a humanity issue.
[edited to add: Looking back at my notes, that was Indra Nooyi's line not Sarah Brown's. Both women wowed me. There was a lot of wowing. It was easy to be confused by it all.]
And all while that they discussed the factors affecting women around the world, I kept thinking, I’m here for a reason. I was sent here for a reason. I know it’s not some cosmic fluke that I am here right now.
Last week was a tough week. On top of a grueling schedule and the first week of school, the universe conspired to throw me some curve balls that taxed my emotions and forced me to devote way too much energy towards the planet’s lesser life forms who like to frequent these here internets.
But then, the universe works in mysterious ways. And it somehow scored me a seat at the table for this amazing event to remind me that there are issues that warrant my attention far more than internet bullies and crackpot trolls. There are 500,000 women every year dying. Dying. Because they don’t have birth control. Because they don’t have education. Because they simply don’t have doctors when they deliver and so they bleed to death.
Sometimes their babies die too.
10 million more women end up disabled or with chronic, debilitating illnesses.
Mothers Day Every Day: The Campaign for Healthy Moms and Newborns is an effort worth learning more about. And if it takes celebrities to get people to stand up and take notice, so be it.
The aim is to reduce the mortality rate by 75% by 2015 through political will and low-cost interventions.
So here’s what you can do, if you’re so inclined.
1. You can donate money. It was suggested that the very next purchase you make, donate the equivalent to the cause.
2. If you can’t donate money, you can put up a button on your blog like this one, and maybe reach someone who can donate money.
3. Otherwise, I don’t know, you’re creative – What do you think you could do? Lemonade stand? Bake sale? Performance art? Blog post? It’s all good.
To thank you for your consideration, here is a blurry photo of a supermodel’s head.
We don’t all have the soap boxes of the Queen of Jordan or the wife of Rupert Murdoch, but we do have our communities. And each other.