People We Love: Muffy Bolding

Besides having a lot to say about the things that wire and rewire her, Muffy Bolding is a mother, writer, actor, feminist, knitter, and self-proclaimed trollop/withered debutante. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, where she writes and produces for film and television. She is currently at work on a memoir.

People We Love
Muffy Bolding: Writer, actor, feminist, knitter, and self-proclaimed trollop/withered debutante.

On Owning It Publicly

When I reflect back on the sensitive young girl I was then—raised in chaos, crime, violence, and scandal—I realize it was a harrowing way to come up.

But thinking of the fearless, bemused old broad I am today, I realize that as a writer, I hit the motherloving motherlode with this life. Past difficulties made me who and what I am. I was forged in the fires of discord and want, tumbled smooth and cool by sharp edges and even sharper words. This life is a blessing. This story is a gift. It is a privilege to have lived it, survived it, and now it is a privilege to tell it. All of it.

There is no underlying revenge agenda, no notion of somehow punishing those who were less than kind or cordial to me. It all just is.

On Swearing Like a Sailor

I was raised around shocking and delightful old Sicilian women who cursed like dockworkers. They weren’t afraid to employ colorful language and really knew how to use it.

Despite my reputation as a ball buster and vulgarian, the last thing I’d ever want is to hurt someone’s feelings. Yes, I am a ruthless, tireless, relentless fighter—but never with other people. Only for other people.

For me, curse words are like fine spice to a fancy chef. I especially like peppering them throughout an essay about something thoughtful, intelligent, and enlightening. I appreciate the juxtaposition of highbrow and lowbrow.

On Kindness

Despite my reputation as a ball buster and vulgarian, the last thing I’d ever want is to hurt someone’s feelings. Yes, I am a ruthless, tireless, relentless fighter—but never with other people. Only for other people.

I was raised in violence and discord. Consequently, I do not participate in such behavior. Ever. If drama begins to unfold in my presence, I recoil and exit stage left. I subscribe to Flaubert’s philosophy: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

On Motherhood

Motherhood opened my eyes to all the mischief and injustice in the world, radicalized me in ways I can only begin to comprehend. Even now that my children are older, there is not a direction I move, not a decision I make, where I do not consider how it will affect them.

As for how I raised them, it certainly had nothing to do with the annoying way we currently commodify and fetishize babies and motherhood. That hovering, overly precious drivel drives me insane.

I wore them and breastfed them and all, but that’s just because, coming from endless generations of poor, ethnic, peasant stock who squatted in vineyards and fields, I didn’t know any different. A baby cries, you strap ’em on and stick a tittie in their mouth. What could be more primal?

On Interspecies Relations

I am the lucky mother of three beloved human children and one beloved furry child, Miss Pearlie Mae, a four-pound black and white Chihuahua, to whom I refer as The Moon of My Life—because she is.

When I was young and dumb, I used to snicker at Ladies of a Certain Age with yipping, little dogs prancing at their feet and lounging on their laps.

Then as happens with the passage of time, my own three babies got older and assumed their own agendas. Despite their still constant presence in my life, I was nowhere near done lavishing obscene amounts of affection on small, adorable creatures.

Pearl changed my life. I get it now. I get it. I am besotted and obsessed with her in the same primal, visceral way that I was with my own kids when they were little. The look of her, the feel of her, the smell of her. She is my child and when she struts into the room, my entire being lights up. I have had both and done both and, trust me, it is the same thing. Pearlie Mae is my baby.

On the Secret to Mental Health

My mother, Alexandria, aside from being a drop-dead gorgeous narcissist and infamous man-eater, is, quite literally, a duly ordained Master Knitter who taught me how to both knit and crochet when I was seven. As I got caught up in boys, baby blue Dittos jeans, Dr. Pepper Lipsmackers, and the Bay City Rollers, the special pink needles my mother had procured for me sat untouched and unloved. The skill faded away. (Sorta like the Bay City Rollers!)

Then, about five years ago, my awesome friend, C.J. Arabia , whose mother had been a knitting ninja much like my own, sat me down and retaught me. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend some time huffin’ my pup and manipulating rich, magnificent fibers with two pointy sticks. Consider it my Prozac.

On Beauty

Back when I was young, fresh, dewy, pubescent, and practically perfect in every way, I felt profoundly imperfect, tragically flawed and nowhere near our culture’s ruthless standard of female beauty.

Beauty isn’t about being The Prettiest Girl at Your School. Beauty is about being The Fiercest, Kindest, Most Fearless, Most Interesting Girl in the World.

Now that I really am profoundly imperfect and tragically flawed, I gotta tell you, I feel luminous. Stunning. Dripping with pulchritude. At this moment, I am  5’1″, 170 pounds. I look fierce, fabulous, and, yes, fat. Six months from now, those numbers might very well be different—but then again, they might not. So what?

When my husband takes my dual chins and accompanying whiskers into his adoring hands, gazes at my crepe-y face, and tells me that I am beautiful, I believe him.

Beauty isn’t about being The Prettiest Girl at Your School.

Beauty is about being The Fiercest, Kindest, Most Fearless, Most Interesting Girl in the World.

On a Rewire Me Moment

It’s ludicrous and completely improbable, but it honestly came about as the result of a single line in Labyrinth, a favorite film of mine. Near the end, after facing endless challenges and overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds on her treacherous quest to retrieve her infant brother from the clutches of The Goblin King, Sarah suddenly gets a moment of pure, raw clarity. She realizes, after a lifetime of allowing herself to be manipulated, defined, and controlled by others, that she doesn’t have to live that way. With a look of shocked, breathless transcendence on her face, she announces to The Goblin King, to the world, but most of all to herself, “You have no power over me.”

I know it sounds silly, to be so inspired by a single line from a children’s movie from the ’80s, but for me, the earth shifted. I was changed. It became a mantra. Even now, when faced with challenging people or situations, I silently invoke it: “You have no power over me.” And they don’t.

Women are taught from an early age to be good girls, to not make a fuss, disagree, take up too much space, be who and what we truly are…it’s done us all a profound disservice. I left behind being a “Good Girl” long ago and have taken to heart the advice of young Sarah and old Roseanne Barr, who said, “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” And, I do. With equal parts fierce and grace.

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7 Comments

  • Lady Geisha
    Posted June 27, 2014 1:44 am 0Likes

    [bleep] Carmen Sandiego … WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MUFFY BOLDING?

  • Sage
    Posted September 27, 2014 9:11 pm 0Likes

    You had me at Muffy Bolding.

  • Diana
    Posted September 27, 2014 9:30 pm 0Likes

    Thank you Ayun and Muffy for sharing your wisdom.

  • Heather
    Posted September 27, 2014 11:07 pm 0Likes

    Oh MUFFY! What a delightful interview! I cannot WAIT for your memoir! And Ayun! Well done!!

  • Sue
    Posted September 28, 2014 2:27 am 0Likes

    This so briliantly captures the essence of Muffy! Long live Miss Muffy. Long live Miss Ayun Halliday.

  • Elizabeth Weitz
    Posted September 28, 2014 7:44 am 0Likes

    Muffy is my inspiration and (not-so) secret lady crush. My goal is to be as open, honest and ballsy as she is. If you can’t already tell, I love her.

  • Omy
    Posted September 28, 2014 5:10 pm 0Likes

    I love the Roseanne Barr quote at the end and I love Muffy! Thanks Ayun for writing this article! <3

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