Gossip Girl premiered on The CW on September 19th, 2007.
When I was younger, about a thousand things were off-limits to me. As a little kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch Hercules or Pocahontas because they represented religions and spiritualities other than Christianity. Then, when I got older, my parents’ list of off-limit shows and movies only got longer. In fact, my mom actually set parental controls on our TV when I was in middle and high school so I couldn’t watch anything “inappropriate.”
But, being the smart and rebellious young woman that I am, I cracked her code. (To be fair, it was the same code she used as her ATM PIN — which she told me every time she sent me into the store. So, it wasn’t exactly rocket science.) Figuring out when to sneakily watch the shows my friends were obsessing over definitely proved to be a more difficult feat.
However, I found a way — and soon, I became entrenched in the (scandalous) lives of Manhattan’s elite teenagers on Gossip Girl.
My sister bought me the first couple of seasons on DVD so I could catch up with all that was happening, and at first, I empathized with Serena. After all, I too had a complicated family life with a sibling (or two) that was exiled for reasons I didn’t understand. I had long blonde hair. I wanted to be liked. For a while, I felt like Serena. Or maybe, I wanted to be more like Serena.
Serena was carefree, bubbly, charming, and extroverted. Serena wasn’t awkward or controlling or ultra-competitive. Serena didn’t struggle with her body image or have a deeply-rooted need to be perfect.
But Blair did.
Blair Waldorf was controlling, manipulative, snarky, fierce, and passionate. She was imperfect, and the exact kind of role model I needed when I was growing up.
She took control of her life, and never let anyone else dictate her future but herself. She struggled, but she grew stronger through those struggles. One of the best things about Blair? She was a bitch, but she owned her bitchiness.
While growing up in small-town Texas, I was taught that young women should be seen, not heard.
I was raised to hold strong convictions, sure, but don’t be too loud, don’t be too brash, don’t be too passionate. I should be meek and mild, quiet and proper. The thing is, though, I’ve never been naturally meek or mild. I’m a writer, and I’m passionate. I’m emotional. I’m a bitch.
Blair Waldorf may have been painted as the mean girl for a while on Gossip Girl, but I don’t think that she was the villain. She was unapologetically herself in a world that told her to just shut up and stay in her lane.
I was initially put off by how real and genuine Blair was. I was startled that she felt no qualms about being such a “bitch.” But then, I realized that Blair was simply brave enough to do and say the things that, for the most part, everyone else wishes they could.
Many Gossip Girl viewers may brush off Blair’s actions as being the mere products of her insecurities and personal issues.
But Blair showed young girls like me that being a bitch — being tough, focused, demanding, relentless — was okay.
More so, Blair taught me that if you behave as a man does, you’ll get called a bitch; the man, however, will be admired as he smirks, shrugs his shoulders, and says, “I’m Chuck Bass.”
So, yes, Blair Waldorf was my role model. She still is.
She taught me to fuck the patriarchy, to just go for it. Blair may have poured yogurt on Serena (which is still so uncool), but she also protected Serena at all costs later on.
Blair showed me that women can be brilliant and hardworking without apologizing for it.
Of course, she lived a life of luxury and privilege that I could only imagine living, but Blair still proved that I didn’t have to be the quiet, well-behaved girl I thought I had to be.
I can be fierce, powerful, and yes, sometimes bitchy, while still being a strong, good, successful woman. Blair Waldorf taught me that.