Typically, a woman my age would venture to say that her heroes are powerful, strong and successful women. The type of women we can look up to and model our own life and successes after. I’m talking about the Oprahs and Hillary Clintons of the world. Rightfully so, these are all women who have worked hard to make a name for themselves. Yet, rarely do we look at younger women and see them as an inspiration and a role model.
In my case, I can add Sue Heck (of the ABC series The Middle) as one of my inspirations. Granted, a 14-year-old girl in high school might not normally be considered a role model, but it’s not her achievements that make me look up to her, it’s the way she is unapologetic and happy about who she is.
Living in a time where teenage girls are usually looked upon as hormonal monsters, most teen dramas seem to portray teenage girls as conniving, overtly sexual and young women that should be feared. Yet Sue is a character that is happy being a simple teenage girl living in Middle America. I’d venture to say that most teen girls are like Sue, from a middle class family and who doesn’t live the life of a privileged princess. It would only make sense that a woman like myself (who grew up on the wrong side of Los Angeles in a family barely clutching onto middle class status) and young girls alike can see a bit of themselves in Sue Heck.
So what’s so wonderful about Sue is what you might be wondering right about now. Well, she has what many women lack: all the confidence in the world. Sue has an uncompromising spirit and doesn’t see her failures as setbacks but as ammunition to push for and achieve what she wants. One episode in particular, Sue tries out for the cheer squad. Like most cheer squads, the team is compiled of the “beautiful” and “popular” girls. Sue, considered to be neither, is mistakenly accepted onto the squad only to be told later that she was never meant to be on the squad to begin with. I don’t know about you, but had that been me, I would have been devastated. I would have locked myself in my room and cried all while playing The Smiths really loud so no one would hear my weeping. Sue, on the other hand, was disappointed about the mistake but she saw herself as a cheerleader and didn’t allow this “mistake” to keep her from doing what she wanted. So, she started her own cheerleading team. In her mind, it was that simple and she didn’t doubt herself one bit…even when her older brother was constantly putting her down.
What I’m trying to get across is that Sue Heck is a young woman who is accepting of herself and for that, she’s my hero. I always scrutinized myself at her age and I saw it happening to hundreds of other girls around me. I still see in the younger generation and I feel it’s because we can never cease to compare ourselves to these images of perfection we see everyday. Now there is an option, Sue Heck is the type of young woman who can be a role model to women of all ages. She’s relentless, confident, loving and driven. She refuses to see herself as anything other than a confident, smart and fun young woman. I never thought that a teenage girl on prime-time TV could be my source of inspiration.
Image provided by jaehakim.com