Jo March from Little Women
To be honest, I always wanted to be Beth. Poor, lovely, helpless, blonde Beth who died before any of her less attractive qualities could be revealed. That was womanhood to me, being pretty and offending no one. But in the back of my mind Jo always stood out, because she was a writer which was what I wanted to be. As time has passed it’s become clear that if Beth is the ideal of femininity I sometimes struggle against, Jo is Leslie Knope riding on the back of a lioness holding a collection of arguments by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For all Beth’s saccharine pronouncements of love and beauty in the world, and her sacred place as the moral center of the March household, it was Jo selling her hair that moved me the most, even as a child. Jo was the only one who got shit done. While the rest of her family were running around with chickens with their heads cut off, bemoaning the financial future of the March household, Jo actually did something. She didn’t ask permission, she didn’t look for praise or sympathy, she just saw what needed to be done and did it. With that kind of drive, is it any wonder why she lacked patience for Laurie, who was a bit of a pansy anyway? Jo demonstrated a sense of self-determination I truly admired, but took years to appreciate, and taught me being viewed a stubborn, manly, bitch was more than worthwhile trade off for actual accomplishments.
Sheryl Holt from Boston Public
Sheryl Holt was a student on the David E. Kelley drama (does David do it any other way?) Boston Public, which ran in the early 2000s. Sheryl Holt began as a sort of shadowy figure, the author of a school gossip site that would publish dirt on students and teachers. As time went on, she was revealed to be a slight, bespectacled, beautiful girl, and a raging bitch par excellence. At the time Boston Public aired, I was in middle school, had just started blogging, and was full of rage towards my classmates, teachers, the administration, and just any source of authority or structure in general. Sheryl Holt was everything I needed in a hero. She wasn’t popular, she wasn’t well-liked, but she had power she had attained through her intelligence and tenacity and her ability to manipulate and doggedly gather information. I have no idea what Sheryl Holt’s motivations were, or if they were ever revealed, but my middle school self perceived her as just wanting to watch the world burn. She didn’t waste her skills on petty disagreements with other students either, her wrath extended to everyone from lowly freshmen to the upper levels of the administration, and they all, justifiably, feared her. What kind of 13 year old doesn’t dream of that.
Fi from So Weird
Shockingly, another girl with a laptop. If it’s not already patently obvious, I’m not much of an athlete. I’m not good with other people, I’m not blonde, or approachable, or even quirky enough to be seen as “that weird girl.” I’ve had to find alternate routes in life, and my choice in heroes has retrospectively reflected and supported those alternate routes. Fi was a teenage girl who travelled around the country with her rockstar Mom and while her Mom played with her band, Fi would solve paranormal mysteries with the hefty use of the internet and her blue iBook. I can’t even describe how much I wanted, and still want, that clamshell iBook. Anyway, Fi was smart and pretty and kind of an alt rocker, and she used her research abilities and technology to play detective, which was much cooler and more relatable (minus the paranormal aspect) to me than being good at kicking a soccer ball. And note once did she bang Erik von Detten on that show, although it’s possible he was supposed to be her brother. Either way, strength of steel.