An ode to the TV heroines who shaped who I am today

I’m someone who hasn’t seen much of the world, so a lot of the things I know about life, I’ve learned from watching television.

I’ve always been the kind of person who would rather stay home and curl up with a good book or Netflix marathon than go out and meet new people. I’ve spent my whole life collecting my favorite fictional heroines, and watched closely how they’re changing the way women are seen in the media. Although there are a lot of amazing series with strong female characters going on right now, the ones I feel more close to are the ones I watched as a kid and that followed me as I grew up. 

When women in television are given a role that doesn’t just revolve around a love interest, men or fashion, and they are given a purpose in life, you see their character develop and you learn things — important things. Watching strong women fight for what they believe in inspired me to do the same. Witnessing epic love stories made my heart struggle, but prepared me for the broken hearts that were yet to come. I saw my TV heroines battling male privilege and stereotypes. I loved each and every one of them, and even the smallest details stayed with me. This post is my ode to the TV heroines who shaped me (well, this article and this collage — because they’re collage-worthy).

Now, on to my favorite ladies and what they’ve taught me. 

“Who cares if I’m pretty if I fail my finals?” – Rory Gilmore

I found out about Gilmore Girls when I was nine. I remember watching the first episode and feeling something explode inside my brain. I had never been a TV fan until that moment. At that precious moment, I knew I had found a friend, an equal. Finally, there was a character on TV who I could relate to. Rory was smart, shy, bad at sports, and had an uncontrollable obsession with books and good grades.

Thanks to Rory (and Laine), I learned about cool ’90s rock bands, that love can be real, but not last forever, that you have to be true to yourself and follow your heart, and that you should never, EVER dye your hair with your best friend at 16 without telling your mother. Also, watching Rory and Lorelai eat whatever they wanted, when they wanted, and their disinterest with kitchen stuff broke the stereotype that women are supposed to be watching their figure and love cooking and housekeeping. Gilmore Girls defied so many clichés about women; Rory and Lorelai were never portrayed as victims, there wasn’t body shaming, in Rory’s high school, girls never fought over boys, and no woman was ever shamed for having sex.

I admire Rory Gilmore because, as she followed her dreams, she became more independent and sure of herself. Rory got out of her comfort zone and started living all these adventures she had yearned for so long, and she did it alone. She traded a peaceful life and an almost-fiancé for a don’t-know-what’s-going-to-happen journalism career and it was totally the right choice for her. 

After all these years, do you not instinctively fear me? Veronica Mars

I started obsessing over Veronica Mars when I was 12, and she instantly became my girl crush. She was a smart, brave and strong girl and anyone who underestimated her was making a serious mistake.

From Veronica, I found out about feminism, rape culture and sarcasm (personally, I call her “the queen of sarcasm”). She was a rape survivor (she was drugged and sexually assaulted at a party), and after that she was slut-shamed by her classmates. But she didn’t let that define her, and she knew she wasn’t the one to blame for her assault. As a result of the struggles she faced trying to get local authorities to believe her report of the assault, Veronica finds it hard to trust men — something I think a lot of women can relate to.

Veronica Mars also taught me that best friends are the ones that help you no matter how crazy the favor sounds, that a girl should always have a very big and diverse wardrobe (because you never know when you’ll have to pretend to be someone else to solve a case), and that bad boys are (mostly) hot. Veronica Mars was like a crash course in feminism and how to be a detective, all at the same time.

I want to be like Veronica Mars when I grow up. I aspire to be as independent and brave as she is. I want to be able to know what to say every time someone puts me down, instead of thinking of a comeback three hours later. With Veronica’s help, I know I’ll get there…someday.

If I see one more idiot that thinks that witches are all hairy moles and rotten teeth…” – Willow Rosenberg

In 7th grade, I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I couldn’t relate to the title character. Sure, Buffy had a charming and mysterious vampire boyfriend, and who doesn’t want that? She was a badass girl and could spend the whole episode kicking somebody’s ass while wearing the coolest clothes. Buffy was undeniably cool, but it was her faithful companion, Willow, who really caught my eye.

Willow Rosenberg had one of the biggest characters developments I have ever seen on TV. She started as a shy, nerdy girl who had a crush on her male best friend (who obviously was into another girl anyway). I could relate to that — being the invisible and awkward friend no one pays attention to. But when she met Buffy, Willow learned to act under pressure and became more sure of herself. Willow’s personality wasn’t the only thing that changed, with time she became a very powerful witch and she also found out more about her sexual preferences.

Willow taught me that you should always be true to yourself, even when something about you is changing, and you don’t know who you are anymore. I also learned what happens when you go crazy and try to destroy the world (believe me, it’s never a good idea).

What I loved most about Willow was that she allowed herself to be angry, to do whatever she wanted, and to feel. She felt so many things. And she changed until she wasn’t invisible anymore; she was strong and people feared her, and that’s awesome.

“But I don’t want the college to get mad at me for not partying enough – Sabrina Spellman

I honestly don’t remember when I started watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I guess it just happened. I loved the storyline of the series: A girl finds out she is a witch when she turns 16 and tries to hide her secret to seem “normal” in front of her classmates. She lives with her two aunts and a talking cat, all three of whom are also witches. Please, can I trade my life with hers?

What I liked most about Sabrina was that she was very funny, had amazing clothes and, most importantly, was a really good person. She taught me nothing comes easily and nothing stays if you don’t do your best to keep it. She had to fight to keep the powers that were given to her at birth, and she renounced true love multiple times to save her friends and aunts. It’s also worth mentioning that, on Sabrina, all of the main characters were women (except Salem the cat), and they were all very strong and powerful — while the men were portrayed as naïve and innocent. The flip of gender roles felt so revolutionary at the time and hooked me.

I admired Sabrina for her honesty, her adventurous spirit and her willingness to fall in love very easily. Some might consider that last one a bad quality, but I liked the way she trusted everyone until proved wrong, but never lost herself along the way.

(Images via here, here, here and here. Collage made by the author with Polyvore.)

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