The Material Girl Has Lost Her Way

Nancy Colasurdo
4 min readFeb 8

It’s become a favorite family story over the years, the time in May of 1985 when I drove to the Spectrum in Philadelphia with my sister and a friend with no tickets in hand for the Madonna concert that was happening that night.

Determined to see The Virgin Tour, we wound up buying tickets on the street from a guy who my sister flagged down while hanging half her body out the car window. They were marked “obstructed view.”

In retrospect, idiocy.

But it was Madonna. And we got in. We could see just fine, as it turned out, and we had a great time.

Back then, aside from regularly dancing in clubs to her songs, Madonna’s appeal for me was about rebellion. I was raised Catholic. It wasn’t quite a fit, but its doctrine had penetrated just enough that I had never deigned to question its tenets or, heaven forbid, push back.

Along came this ambitious, provocative Italian-American woman simply bursting with longing and truth and sexuality. It was intoxicating to arguably repressed young women like me. She was burning up with love, unabashedly singing about virginity, exploring what made her different.

I, too, was ambitious and Italian American, but not so provocative. While Billy Joel was trying to coax us Catholic girls from starting “much too late” into going all the way when I was in high school, Madonna came along and said, “We have urges, too.”


Fast forward to the 2023 Grammy Awards.

I’m a proud feminist. I don’t make a habit of bashing women based on how they look or decisions they’ve made about their bodies. But when Madonna appeared on that stage, I recoiled.

It only got worse when she spoke because I heard her words encouraging rebels to keep being rebels, but they only registered so far in my brain because I was already upset by what I saw.

The symbol of rebellion had become unrecognizable. I don’t cast surface judgment here. I get why she did it. What brought out my emotional response was this — the rebel is now conforming to the sick societal standard set for women. She defied religion but succumbed to the body image BS foisted upon us.

Nancy Colasurdo

Activist Journalist, Opinion Writer, Author, Life Coach in Greater NYC area. Occasional guest columnist at Six-word bio: Zen chick with a Jersey edge.