Why I wanted to be just like Wednesday Addams growing up (and still do)
Just in time for Halloween, Kat Dennings admitted on Conan that she idolized Wednesday Addams as a child. Conan’s quick to make a joke about it, and ask Dennings if her parents thought it was “strange.” She laughs, and then Conan laughs, and it’s all in good fun. But let’s get one thing straight, loving Wednesday Addams is no joke. I, too, idolized Wednesday and wanted to be just like her. I still kind of do.
I’m of course talking about Christina Ricci’s portrayal of Wednesday in the two Addams Family movies of the early ’90s. Those two movies, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, spend a lot of time setting up this strange world of the family, and what appears to be the even stranger outside world. Wednesday isn’t necessarily “strange” in the latter world, she just doesn’t fit in with the bright perky colors of everyone else. Finally. Someone else who gets it.
Let’s go back to my childhood for a second. I was never really a “girly-girl” growing up. It was next to impossible to get me to wear anything pink and sparkly, or any sort of shoes that weren’t sneakers. I hated playing dress-up and applying poorly done makeup. You’re probably thinking, “So? That doesn’t make you in the likeness of Wednesday, that just makes you a tomboy.” But I wasn’t a tomboy, either. I didn’t want to go outside and play, or get any sort of dirt on myself, and I was never into sports. It was like I was stuck between being a girlie-girl and a tomboy, and if you look across pop culture there are very few females who can perfectly sit between those two distinctions.
There are even fewer kids who fall into that grey area — except for Wednesday. She became someone I wanted to be if only because she didn’t fit into any of the norms of childhood either. While all my other friends were off playing soccer or pretending to be the Spice Girls, I was braiding my hair in two even parts and trying my hardest to be as dry and sarcastic as possible.
And let me tell you, Wednesday has got the monotone droll down pat.
Plus, as if I need more reasons for her to be one of my childhood female heroines, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind to anyone (or, in some cases, admit what is exactly on her mind). She’s not trying to prove herself to anyone, and doesn’t need approval from everyone to keep doing what she’s doing.
She’s also a super-smart. While other kids are playing with Barbies, she’s asking the big, scary, introspective questions like:
Then there’s the matter of her dress. Dressing up as a young girl is super complicated. It’s a reflection of your developing identity and how you choose to fit in with others. And Wednesday’s sartorial identity was all her own. I love all of the contrasting images in Addams Family Values with Wednesday’s black colors, flanked by all the other colors of the rainbow. Why does she need to fit in when she’s clearly destined to stand out?
The fact that she isn’t afraid to be different is what makes her such a role model. There’s bravery in how she embraces her outsider status and her, er, uncommon interests and doesn’t apologize for it. As a kid, that was so refreshing to see in a movie character, or otherwise.
And while her stoic face may suggest she doesn’t care about anything, she does care. She loves her family and proudly represents where she comes from. And that’s another reason why she’s so cool: She isn’t ashamed of her unique background. As a little kid, something like that is important to know. As an adult, it’s still pretty important, too.
And on a totally surface level, I wanted her little black dresses more than anything. I still want that dress. Coming from someone who shies away from any sort of tulle and ribbons, her simple black button up was absolutely the perfect choice. I know the proper term for the pleats over a collar is a Peter Pan collar, but I think I’m only ever going to think of it as a Wednesday Addams collar, because that’s the look I was going for then — and still go for nowadays, too.
What I’m really getting at is that Wednesday had a real and positive impact on my psyche. (Also, her dancing is pretty great.) Dear Wednesday, thanks for showing me that it’s okay to be a little bit different.