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'Free To Be...You And Me' turns 35. Which makes me much older.


I don't know about you, but Free To Be...You and Me pretty much changed my life. It's a big part of my doc "I Was A Teenage Feminist" and above is a still from the film of me with my 1974 album, freshly autographed by Gloria Steinem and Letty Pogrebin.

The story of Atalanta revealed the shocking fact that you didn't actually have to marry the handsome prince to live happily ever after. This totally rocked my world and went against all conventional fairy tale wisdom. I hear from many gay men that 'William's Doll' had a similar world-rocking effect on them.

Here's a clip of Atalanta:

I watched the video recently and was stuck by how earnest it all was. I can't imagine how anything that irony-free (and unapologetically liberal) would ever be made today. It's been updated for its anniversary, but I wonder how well the tone of the new stuff meshes with the original material.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a handy briefing from USA Today:

Free to Be … You and Me struck a chord when it was first published in 1973. Its message to young readers was simple yet eye-opening: They could be different and that was fine.

"The message is a rather deep one, that you can choose your own role models, you can fight stereotypes," says Thomas, 70, who starred in the hit '60s TV series That Girl, which broke single-woman-in-the-city stereotypes. Free to Be "was a revolutionary book. Some people were even afraid of it."

Original contributors included many of Thomas' friends — children's author Judy Blume, author and composer Shel Silverstein and actor Carl Reiner. The new edition features all of the original material plus 14 new contributors from children's literature, updated artwork and a new CD.