By Sarah Krichel
When I was in the second grade, a boy ran up to me in gym class and asked me why my arms were hairier than his. I replied, “I don’t know,” and he said that they shouldn’t be because “I’m a girl.”
I’ll always remember that moment as the first time I began to question who I am. When I started to ask myself why I didn’t look the way the other girls in my class did. Why didn’t I have the shiny and straight hair that fell perfectly on my shoulders, or the bright complexion of most of the people in my class?
I was only six years old. And as I grew older, the elements of my body I scrutinized on a daily basis infinitely increased. My best skill became wondering why I don’t look and act like everyone else. That kind of thing can swallow a person until they question even the best parts of themselves. I became a self-flagellating floater who felt like her purpose was to coexist meaninglessly with the people who actually had something to offer to the world.
Gilmore Girls was a part of my childhood, but I didn’t realize its true impact on me wasn’t to do with the Rory and Jess drama until I was in grade 11. It was then when I found my passion for global affairs and politics. I realized I wanted to be a political journalist and enlighten those who don’t see the issues that matter in the world, because they were blinded by their own. My passion became something other than hating on myself.
Rory’s character development became something real to me. It became the presentation of what I wanted my life to become — an insecure individual trying to live out a dream that was so much bigger than her.
I wanted my own spontaneous gorilla mask investigations more than anything. I found myself emulating her focus and determination on a daily basis. Her outbursts of courage and confidence were my motivations as I stepped out of my shell to do the things that scared me the most.
But I wouldn’t have felt so connected to the characters if I didn’t feel well-represented by them.
The politics of film have more impact than many people realize. The Hollywood industry isn’t as welcoming to the heroine as it is to the hero. Patriarchal narratives condition us to not question why gender norms and standards are so easily slipped into the everyday ideology. It all comes down to what we are conditioned to believe, think and execute.
Representation in films and TV shows are often overlooked elements, overshadowed by glorious content. The feminist lens is often used in media, filling YouTube ads and city billboards to entice women’s drive to embrace their individuality. An empowering and truthful depiction of what an unrestricted woman is capable of is what this generation of females needs more of. It can help women the way that it helped me.
If you look at a TV favourite like Modern Family, it blinds us with its hilarity from the problematic existence of the marital standards. For example, Jay Pritchett; the old, white, rich and straight business owner who brings all the money home — spoiling his beautiful immigrant (jobless) wife Gloria, who comes from a poor neighbourhood and possesses stereotypical Latina traits like a short temper.
It’s a problem when a hit show like this blasts all stereotypes to the maximum, reinforcing the social habit of belittling the accomplishments and the potential in a marginalized individual.
But then every once in awhile, a show like Gilmore Girls comes around. Presented are three generations of hard-working, intelligent, talented and strong-minded women with a dynamic we all hope to share with our family and friends.
What Rory, Lane, Lorelai, Sookie, Emily and Paris taught me is that there are different ways of being confident and being exactly who you are without compromise. It was really hard to be who I was without apology, but Gilmore Girls convinced me it’s completely necessary to live up to my full potential.
Rory taught me that my ambition comes first, and anything else comes second. Paris taught me to stop at nothing for your dream. Lorelai taught me that it’s okay to let yourself be sad once in awhile. Emily taught me to love and to love entirely. Sookie taught me that the dorkiest parts of me are the best parts. Lane taught me that I should never apologize for who I am, no matter to whom it may be.
If you’re not sure of who you are, it’s okay. Because we all do our best to shape our identities in a way which brings out the best in us. And while Rory went through the ups and downs of different relationships and friendships, there was one thing she always had — herself. Her career. Her ambition.
So hook up the caffeine into your IV and put yourself out there. No matter who comes into your life, be willing to stand up on your own, and don’t forget that shot of cynicism. I promise, you’ll be okay.
Just try not to hit a deer.