First it was Susan Boyle who proved that talent and more than an ounce of chutzpah are worth more than a pretty package. Then it was Mine That Bird, the 50-1 long shot that came from 30 lengths to win the Kentucky Derby and the hearts of millions.
It’s no surprise Mine That Bird has been plucked from obscurity to become a racing legend, or that the YouTube video of Susan Boyle belting out Les Miserables’s “I Dreamed A Dream” (and boy, did she ever) has around 100 million hits. Who doesn’t love an underdog? We eat up the Rudys, Rockys, Titans, Seabiscuits, and the Little Engine Who Coulds. We devour their redemptive comeback stories. We admire their unstoppable tenacity.
What’s the appeal? Maybe we can’t get enough of underdogs because in their triumph they prove ordinary people (and horses) can do extraordinary things. Homely women can win over even the most reproachful audience when they dream a dream and then sing about it. Gutsy geldings lacking impressive bloodlines led by even gutsier jockeys can slip to the inside and not only pass their thundering competitors but leave them bewildered, coughing up their dust.
The feats of the underdogs encourage us to believe that being poor, plain, klutzy, an outsider or humble beginnings are nothing more than obstacles to overcome. Winning is sexy, but it’s even sexier when it’s unforeseen and not expected. There’s not nearly as much gratification in watching flashy, favorites do what they’re designed to do – prevail. But to see the ugly duckling turned singing swan leave Simon Cowell speechless and smiling or to witness a fearless jockey and his little known mount overtake 18 thundering horses in a matter of seconds, well, that’s the stuff that fairy tales and Hollywood blockbusters are made of.
Read the rest here at the brand new Phases of Womanhood site, which, by the way, is chock full of great content.