Remember those early ‘00s tales of Hilary Duff portraying a kinda-awkward but still cute middle schooler named Lizzie McGuire in the aptly titled Lizzie McGuire on the Disney Channel? I sure do. I watched that show so religiously and delighted in the marathon airings to the point where it seemed a tad unhealthy. Lizzie was a B-average student who lived with her parents Jo and Sam and little troublemaking brother Matt. Her best friends were Miranda and Gordo, two other kids in her grade. Miranda shared Lizzie’s boy craziness and affection for brightly printed pants and Gordo was the very smart, albeit slightly neurotic, voice of reason that even a non viewer of the show could tell would wind up really liking Lizzie later on. There was also a rival for Lizzie (Kate), the impossible crush (Ethan Craft, who did NOT age well the older he got outside of the show), and the unrequited nerdy crush (Larry, who did age well. That’s Murphy’s Law for ya.) Most importantly, Lizzie had an inner voice of reason, a little animated self who broke the third wall and would openly tell the audience what she was really thinking. I could totally relate. Back then I felt like I had a tiny inner animated Heather of my own, pondering what it feels like for a girl. Being a teenage girl sucks, but both Lizzie and the relevant episode storylines made it easy to relate with. If she could get through the issues, I could too. Even though Lizzie had a bedroom that looked like that accessory store Dry Ice had put everything they sold inside and there was more than one episode where I coveted her hair accessories, I learned some important life lessons from her. Check it.
1) You Gotta Fight For Your Rights (To a Bra)
Ugh, can we please not remember the first time I went bra shopping? If anyone can honestly say that they had a totally comfortable and at ease time doing so, leave a comment and tell me what made it that way. My experience was terrible. I went with my mom to a department store where an old woman attempted to try to measure me, but I insisted we could find a good bra without her help. My first bra was a training bra. As in, not an A or B or C, but one so small it did not contain a number or letter. That was how flat chested I was. Mortifying.
Lizzie went through a pretty stressful time of it herself in one episode, declaring to her mother – who was admittedly asking for it by grilling her about why she needed to go to the mall in front of Dad, Matt, and Gordo – that “I WANT A BRA!!” Jo then takes Lizzie and Miranda (weird, I would never go shopping with my friend’s mom for my first bra) to shop for their first lady undergarments. Fed up with her mother attempting to find bras for the pair and after an embarrassing run-in with a hot male English teacher (who is buying a conservative nightshirt for his wife before you get a million wrong ideas), Lizzie bitches out Jo about leaving them alone to be grown-ups. Jo gives her 40 bucks and hightails it to the food court. Seriously, that’s what happened. Lizzie is a good girl though, not an out of control Maury teen, and feels bad immediately for what she did. Even Miranda calls her out on it. Turns out neither girl understands how to shop for a bra and they go back to find Jo, still at the food court, where Lizzie apologizes and tells her mom that sometimes the grown-up thing to do is ask for help. Um, okay, so it ends on a really cheesy cheese note, but the important part of the episode to me will always be Lizzie’s passionately loud declaration for a bra. And I haven’t seen a Disney Channel show before or since that ever did an episode like that. Or any other show for that matter. Groundbreaking stuff.
2) Your Friends Will Help You Buy Expensive Pants
This never actually happened in my life, but in an oft-colored way was similar enough. When I was about 15, I wanted a pair of olive colored jeans from Express with a tiny beaded flower hemmed on the waistband. Those jeans cost over a hundred dollars but my parents wouldn’t get them for me and my allowance ensured that even when sale season rolled around, I wouldn’t be able to get them either. It was tragic. Suburban girl problems, everybody.
Lucky for me, Lizzie is the epitome of the suburban girl and in one episode wanted to make the school’s best dressed list. The winner of this list was usually her ex-best friend and rival Kate who won yearly because her parents could afford to keep her stylish with no two outfit repeats, ever. Lizzie saw a pair of cool jeans that she really wanted (which were gorgeous, I’ll admit) but Jo, like a normal mom, vetoes the idea and suggests discount jeans instead. This is not the response a tweenage girl wants to hear. Discount for working college girls means, “Woo hoo, I can buy 3 pieces today!” Discount for the 13-year-old with no job means, “Does that mean it’s coming from Wal-Mart and I have cut out the designer tag again?” At only 13, Lizzie is already sporting brand name loyalty characteristics, which will do Hilary Duff a world of good later on with her line of merchandise. Gordo and Miranda help her buy the pants, under the terms they can return them and get their money back. A Slushie is spilled all over her pants about 5 minutes into the school day and they are ruined. I may or may not have teared up at that scene. Lizzie brought her backup bargain pants along to school and it turns out everyone loves those pants! She doesn’t win the contest but understands that sale items are actually really cool. But can I just say I didn’t like the second pair of jeans at all? The weird metallic grommets on the side were not doing anything for me.
3) Your First Relationship Will End In Less Than a Week (Or Close To It)
I’ve often wished that a boy would magically appear on my doorstep who was a fairly sweet, kindhearted soul. For Lizzie, this did happen. In the episode when she gets her first kiss, it’s from the newspaper boy Ronnie, who is literally standing on her front porch when she first meets him. It’s a really cute moment, too. They went rollerblading together and a Mandy Moore song played in the background and animated inner Lizzie prayed that the last thing she ate was a breath mint. This set the bar really high for me in terms of my first kiss, which was not romantic at all and occurred in the horror movie aisle at Blockbuster (but was still enough to make me blush like crazy and run home smiling).
Alas, Lizzie gets really into Ronnie. Like really into Ronnie. She even wears his dirty shoelaces to school. Ahh, middle school love. That and a hoodie is about all you can get. She also forgets about spending time with her friends and yells at Miranda for being jealous because she has a boyfriend while Miranda is single. It’s a really heavy scene that gets Miranda to come back with the bruising, “No, I don’t have a boyfriend at the moment. But I don’t have much of a best friend either.” Oh, snap.
Furthering the Oh, snap! moments, Ronnie comes to the McGuire residence and tells Lizzie, “We need to talk.” It is because of this show that when my college boyfriend told me the exact same words, I knew exactly what was coming. Jo knew it too and tells Lizzie to “take care of” herself, which Lizzie writes off as weirdness from parents. Ronnie breaks up with her because of some girl being at his school that he likes. He tries the whole “let’s be friends” line and she runs off crying, understandably upset. But Gordo is there for her, declaring that Lizzie is pretty and smart and nobody will ever be as wonderful as she is. Remember that boy I wished would magically appear on my front porch? I want a Gordo there.
4) Wearing the Same Outfit as the Most Popular Girl in School? Recipe for Disaster.
See above photo. This incident occurred in the episode when they had the school picture day and Lizzie had to wear that terrible unicorn sweater. I’ve seen this go down in high school during Homecoming Dances and no joke, it’s like an US Weekly “Who Wore It Better?” coming to life before you.
5) Fighting With Your Ex-BFF While Getting Covered in Baking Powder Ends in Smiles and Laughter
Kate and Lizzie had to work together to do a project on Mexican culture for a social studies class after Lizzie was sick from school one day and stuck partnering with Kate, who was also absent. The pair were friends a long time ago but fell out, as many friendships in middle school tend to have happen. However, in this episode, they actually wind up enjoying each other’s company – even to the point where they go out (ooh!) in public (oooohh!) to the Digital Bean because it has DSL (before wifi, what an age we used to live in). Both of their respective groups of friends really hate that Kate and Lizzie are spending time together, but keep cool my babies, because remember that they’re doing a school project and thus need to work together to get it completed.
They have a semi-argument at Lizzie’s house but slipping on some broken eggs and having powder land all over them ends it (mostly). Ah ha ha. This moment taught me that the only way I could have something like this occur to me depends on the girl I’m arguing with. Roommate? We’d laugh it off, hug and apologize together. Ex-best friend from grade school? I’d probably smash an egg into her hair. What of it? We have a terrible history together. I’m not the bad girl here! After all, the bad girl Lizzie episode taught me if I want to be bad, I need a faux nose ring and lots o’ sassiness.
Images via weheartit.com