Anna Gragert
March 18, 2016 4:54 pm
Walt Disney Pictures

Aside from blood and organs and all that good stuff, I feel like I’m also part Disney. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a Mickey Mouse-shaped logo flowing through my veins.

Though I did spend a ton of time outside embracing my outdoorsy ways, I couldn’t help myself when the Disney programs of my childhood danced across my family’s TV screen. I had every theme song memorized, religiously listened to what the shows’ protagonists had to say, and always found some way to relate to whatever was being acted out before my very eyes.

Why did I put so much emphasis on these shows, you ask? Well, it’s because they helped me grow up. They showed me how to be a great friend, how to deal with problems, how to confront bullies, and even how to handle all the changes my body was going through.

That’s right – Disney Channel’s TV series helped make me the woman I am today. Here’s why.

1. Lizzie McGuire

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Everything I know about asking for a bra I learned from Lizzie McGuire. Aside from that memorable moment in every young woman’s life, Lizzie taught me that it’s important to stand up for myself, for my friends, and for what I believe is right. After all, Lizzie did spend a significant amount of time dealing with Kate Sanders, her evil ways, and even Kate’s desire to ruin her rhythmic gymnastics routine.

2. Even Stevens

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Yes, Louis Stevens may have been the star of the show, but it was Ren who I most related to. She was an overachiever who focused on school, always did her best, and wasn’t afraid to fight for what she believed was right – even if her family (aka Louis) disagreed and annoyed the crap out of her. Ren essentially demonstrated that it’s A-okay for a woman to be a strong, confident leader when facing those who may disagree.

3. The Proud Family

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Penny Proud had a diverse family and group of friends, which she learned to embrace over the course of the show. Though they definitely made her miserable at times, her loved ones were always there to help her deal with boys, bullies, and all things school-related. While this show was on air, Penny and her crew always made me appreciate those who take the time to support me (even if, in the moment, I may not realize that they have my best interest at heart).

4. Kim Possible

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Growing up, Kim Possible was my queen. She battled evil villains, went to school, dealt with family issues, put up with Ron and his naked mole rat antics, and still had time for cheerleading practice. Plus, she would use this simple response to deal with all stressful situations: “So not the drama.” Though she was animated, Kim Possible taught me that females are strong as hell.

5. Hannah Montana

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When I was going through puberty, I felt like I was going through an identity crisis every single day. At home, I was loud, goofy, and wasn’t afraid to speak my mind. At school, I was the total opposite. Honestly, I was the hottest of all the hot messes. Yet, Hannah Montana made me feel less alone, reminding me that we’re all going through our own journey of self-discovery and that it’s OK to take time to find out who you truly are (especially if who you truly are is able to put on a wig and magically become a pop star).

6. That’s So Raven

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Though I (unfortunately) have never had psychic abilities, I have dealt with plenty of bad luck and bizarre situations – just like Raven. Yet, every time Raven faced an obstacle in life, she was able to confront it with a sense of humor. She laughed. She danced. She came up with hilarious responses for basically everything. Raven Baxter proved to me that a sense of humor can be a great tool when it comes to stress management.

7. Lilo & Stitch

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Not gonna lie – if my loved ones were to describe me right this second, they’d most likely use the word “eclectic.” I have a wide range of unusual interests that match my all-over-the-place personality and, growing up, I always felt like a weirdo. One character who reminded me of myself was Lilo (though I have not fed a fish named Pudge peanut butter sandwiches… yet). Lilo may have been a bit strange, but she went on amazing adventures and had a heart of gold. She was (and still is, tbh) a role model for all the “eclectic” girls (and women) out there.

8. Good Luck Charlie

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While Good Luck Charlie was after my time, I did catch bits and pieces of it. For the most part, I loved how Teddy filmed a video diary for her little sister Charlie. It made me not only want to be a better sister, but to appreciate every moment I have with my family because, at the end of the day, we’re always going to be there for each other.

9. Girl Meets World

Walt Disney Pictures / giphy.com

Riley and Maya are actual #friendshipgoals. They are so wonderful to each other and are a shining beacon of light when it comes to supporting one another. Plus, there’s always Cory and Topanga, who are there to help their daughter as she grows up and works to find herself. Ultimately, Girl Meets World always prompts me to think about the fact that I’m never alone, even as an adult who sometimes has no idea what she’s doing.

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