see While growing up, and actually, even now, I bristle when I hear the phrase ‘plain Jane’. In case you haven’t heard it, Dictionary.com defines the noun ‘Plain Jane’ as ‘a drab, unattractive, and generally uninteresting girl or woman’. Yuck. And in adjective form as ‘simple and modest; unadorned; basic’. Boring. I can’t even repeat what Urban Dictionary says about Plain Jane.
The name Jane peaked in popularity in the 1940’s (reference: Baby Name Wizard) so it’s actually not that often I meet another Jane. However, that trend is changing! In the past year I’ve met 3 (yes 3!) new Janes! The first was Biking Jane whom I wrote about before and she didn’t even really go by Jane until later in life.
Recently, I met ‘Yoga Jane’. I thought I had stories. This Jane has stories! It started like this. A mutual friend introduced us while laughing about mixing up our similar email addresses which use catch phrases from the Dick and Jane early reader books. I asked Yoga Jane if she thought she was special in elementary school too because her name was in all the books. She laughed and said of course because in addition to being ‘Jane’, her brother’s name is Dick. She told me all about her brother’s charisma and antics…very entertaining stories. I’ve since crossed paths with her again and the story started out something like ‘I was at my parents and a tornado was coming and Dick showed up out of nowhere…’. Like I said, she has stories!
Last week I went to a restaurant called Lazy Jane’s. I balked a little about the implied laziness of Janes, but got over it as I walked in the door to an eclectic, oddly decorated house-converted-to-restaurant where the menu included a chorizo scramble. Yep, I’m in.
I noticed a woman going table to table adding signage for a shop called “Lazy Jane’s Junk and Other Treasures”. It was her. Lazy Jane. She didn’t appear lazy at all! While chatting it was evident she was clever, inspired, driven and clearly a smart business woman. She owned another restaurant and now this antique shop next door as well. Lazy Jane was dressed in a t-shirt and navy blue leggings, with large, dark-framed glasses appearing almost animated against her small features, fair skin and short bob of white hair parted down the middle. She talked about adding another restaurant. She was…incredible. I learned later she was in her early 70s! . She was indeed vibrant…the polar opposite of plain.
Truth is, none of these new Janes could possibly be considered ‘plain’. It did make me wonder though if this phrase didn’t exist and compelled me to fight so hard against it, would I be the same me? And what other phrases or labels shaped how I show up in the world? Like say ‘dumb blondes’ for example. I decided I’d stop at the plain Jane story because if I’m honest, being blonde can work to one’s advantage and that’s a story for another day! Maybe…