When you’re growing up, lots of people around you can impact your life: your parents or guardians, of course, your siblings, your friends, and, obviously, TV characters. I had—I think—the privilege of growing up in a time with several strong female role models (both on TV and in real life): Clarissa Darling was my style icon, Lisa Simpson was my scholastic icon, and Topanga Lawrence was everything I wanted to be all rolled into one. Topanga was smart, self-assured, calm (she meditated), had gorgeous hair, and was just all-around awesome. I think we could all learn a thing or two from her. And there’s no day like today—the anniversary of the very first Boy Meets World episode in 1993. That’s right, 21 years ago today, the world met a boy and his very inspiring crush, Topanga. Here’s what she taught us over the course of the series.
1. You can have awesome hair, but don’t forget that beauty isn’t everything
Topanga is beautiful. Duh. She also has gorgeous hair. But she allows that fact to coexist with her awesome personality and strong sense of self and beliefs. That’s not to say she doesn’t care about her appearance. She allows herself some vanity when, after trying to prove how little she cares about her appearance, she hacks her hair off and realizes what she’s done. (It’s OK to have feels about hair care.) But overall, she’s confident in her emotional attractiveness and doesn’t let a little vanity get in the way of how she really sees herself.
2. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are is wrong
Like most of my favorite TV females, Topanga is so her. She completely embraces her weirdness and owns her whole personality unapologetically. That is something I took very much to heart as a tween and now. Just be you!
3. Have a positive attitude
Even more important than just embracing her quirks, Topanga tries to help everyone around her embrace theirs, as well. She refuses to be pushed into being someone she’s not, and makes sure no one pushes around the ones she loves, either.
4. Even if you love someone, sometimes you have to let them go
When Cory kissed another girl and lied to Topanga, we all felt like we were going through a collective, gut-renching heartbreak. (Right?) But Topanga doesn’t get angry with him. She accepts his apology and even seems to understand where he’s coming from. She simply explains to him that she doesn’t need to kiss someone else to know her feelings about him, and it’s probably one of the most important and lasting lessons you could learn from a teen comedy: If you love someone and he has to kiss someone else to figure out if he loves you back, just set him free. Topanga is one of the most mature teenagers we’ve ever had on TV. She seems to understand herself and those around her far more than they ever could. You almost feel like she knows in that moment, if she lets him go, he’ll figure it out on his own and come back.
5. It’s OK to know what you want and to go for it
She’s known for a long time she wanted to be with Cory, and she’s never afraid to be honest about that and go for it. (Remember, she proposed to Cory.) Topanga doesn’t play games, or apologize for her feelings and that’s awesome.
6. Expect a lot from your partner
Meaning, don’t be with people who will put you down or need to save you and who don’t accept you for who you are.
7. Don’t ever be afraid to be a strong woman
Topanga is who she is and she knows what she wants and is confident and beautiful inside and out. I think I’ve just convinced myself she is the perfect person (and yes, I’m still aware she is fictional). I mean, come on: