Why Nancy Drew is STILL an amazing role model
Nancy Drew first hit bookshelves in 1930, but that doesn’t mean the girl detective isn’t completely relevant to our lives today. She’s still a totally badass literary heroine who amazes all of us with her smarts, style, and mystery-solving skills. She’s inspired some of the most successful and impressive women around: Hilary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor, even the Queen of Everything, Oprah. So why does our girl Nancy rule so hard? Here’s a list of all the reasons why she’s the greatest role model.
1. She’s not afraid of anything.
If I found a secret passage in a house, I would call for backup. Not Nancy. No matter what situation she faces, she just grabs her flashlight and her magnifying glass, and figures it out. Sometimes she invites her BFFs Bess and George or her boyfriend Ned, but she’s not afraid to check out a hidden staircase all on her own.
For those of us who are afraid of, well, everything, Nancy is a good reminder that sometimes you need to face your fears to succeed (and to solve The Secret of the Old Clock).
2. She’d well-rounded.
You’d think constantly solving mysteries would take up all your time, but Nancy still finds time to cook, sew, and ride horses. According to this website, she even has “an inherent talent for auto mechanics.” The reason someone is well-rounded is usually because they’re so incredibly curious about the world around them, they’re driven to self-educate and seek out new experiences. Our girl Nancy’s curiosity makes her a brills detective and so amaze at parties.
3. She has great fashion sense.
Listen, just because she’s busy investigating The Clue in the Crumbling Wall doesn’t mean she can’t look fly while doing it. Those drop-waist dresses, those cloche hats, THOSE PENNY LOAFERS. Nancy’s outfits were on point, like, 80 years before before being “on point” was a thing. Seriously, she looks great doing everything, visual aids below:
4. She’s a feminist.
There are plenty of people who have lots of reasons why Nancy Drew isn’t a feminist, but I’m inclined to agree with writer Chelsea Cain, who maintains that Nancy is a feminist because, “She solves problems by herself. She’s capable and confident. Sure, she’s always getting chloroformed and stuffed in a trunk, but she’s gets herself out of it. She’s independent. She’s smart. Even Chief McGinnis asks her for help solving crimes. And she can crack a code and perform first aid.”
Cain acknowledges where Nancy falls short re: feminism, but remains firm that Nancy was pretty darn progressive for the 1930’s:
“We are reminded endlessly of her popularity and good looks. But I think she makes up for it. And she rescues the men in her life (her father, and “special friend” Ned Nickerson) way more than they rescue her.”
So even though the Nancy Drew books don’t explicitly talk about feminism and Nancy never solves The Mystery of the Conflicting Feminist Messages, I still think her gender equality values come through loud and clear.
5. Girl has got staying power.
There are about 175 books in the “original” Nancy Drew series, and that doesn’t even count the newer series like Nancy Drew on Campus and Nancy Drew Diaries. Then there are the graphic novels, the television show, and the movies. Emma Roberts most recently rocked the role in the 2007 film reboot. Nancy Drew has even inspired a parody novel and these absolutely hilarious cover interpretations from Kate Beaton. Nancy Drew has a serious stick-to-it attitude, whether she’s solving a seemingly impossible mystery or staying in our collective consciousness for almost 100 years.
No matter how you look at her, Nancy Drew is a literary role model who continues to inspire all curious, nosy, smart women (even those of us who could never hope to replicate Nancy’s flawless Titian hair).
Cover image from Nancy Drew Sleuth. Images from The Cover Cafe; Book Fever, Jeremy Gloff; Nancy Drew Sleuth; Goodreads.