I totally refuse to buy anything pink or Disney Princess for my niece or any of my children’s friends. I’m SICK of pink everything and I’m sick of Disney princesses. Like Candy Crush Saga and scary horror books, pink and princesses are fine in moderation (all four make it difficult to sleep). Given it’s #maythe4thbewithyou and Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, I’ve been thinking a lot about which fictional women influence my writing. I’m not going to say anything literary here, nothing related to my English or creative writing degree, so flee now if you are waiting for a Shakespeare shout out. If you’re a fan of pop culture, here are five fictional women who have somehow influenced my writing and have helped shape Marina Konyeshna, the main character in my trilogy. Heck, they have all inspired me personally, too:
5. Stephanie Zinone. The gum-smacking, cigarette-smoking, pants-hiding, motorcycle-loving star of Grease 2 was my idol growing up. She wanted a Cool Rider AND went bowling. Hey, I was on a bowling team! So that made me halfway cool, right? I would have given up my Sunday morning cartoons to be a Pink Lady. Stephanie learned her lesson that she was missing out on love by having narrow expectations and she got the cute, Australian boy, too.
4. Julie McCoy from The Love Boat. Julie McCoy from The Love Boat???? Are you wondering if I took too much Allegra today? Come on, Julie was the problem-solver of the ship, had sensible hair, wore sensible shoes, and was the princess of everyone’s heart on that ship. I wanted her job – she got to go to Puerto Vallarta and meet Charo! She was a career gal, traveling the world. My friends voted her the actress most likely to play me in a Peace Corps Western Russia Six movie because I was the event planner for our group. What an honor! Julie worked with purpose and always had a smile in the stickiest of situations.
3. Wonder Woman. She wore an awesome headpiece, had magic bracelets, and flew a plane, an INVISIBLE plane, nonetheless (How about all of the birds that flew into that one? What a mess. Did WW even have a crew to clean that up?). She was a butt-kicking brunette in a world of bleached blondes. Now that I’m older, I am in awe of the garment architecture that kept the girls up and her tummy in. I even wore a Wonder Woman bathing suit during my first trip to Disney World. Take that, princesses. Didn’t need you then, either.
2. Batgirl. Forget tea parties with my stuffed animals. I’d put on my mom’s leather, high-heeled boots and re-enact the scene where Batgirl had to fend of her attackers with her hands tied behind her back. With my own arms held behind my back with an invisible rope, I clipped, clopped, and scuffed my way around the linoleum floor in the dining room, kicking invisible Bad Guy hiney. Until my mom told me to put her darn boots back in the closet already.
1. Princess Leia.The swing set in the backyard wasn’t just a swing set, it was the Millennium Falcon. And when it was time to play Star Wars, I made sure I always got to be Leia (Sorry, cousin Bonnie. Yes, I was a brat. This apology is about 35 years late). Leia was a multifaceted bad-ass. The was the shrewd princess in her “Help Me Obi Wan Kanobi, You’re My Only Hope” hologram. She was the gun-slinging warrior in this. A hottie in this (Yes, she was a slave here. I get it. My feminist side is hitting me upside with a light saber as I write this. But she owns it somehow.). And the gracious, elegant diplomat here. She had it all going on. Leia was goal-oriented, surrounded herself with great friends, and was well-spoken. It wasn’t her fault she made out with her brother – family secrets stink. To this day, I hope I channel some of her intelligence and strategic thinking as I make my way through this crazy life as a writer and teacher. The most important thing I take from her is that we can’t do it alone. We all need our tribes, our Hans, our Lukes, our R2s, our C3POs and our Wookies. In HOPE YOU GUESS MY NAME, Marina can’t get through the geocaching competition without the different skills offered by Gilly, Kendra, and Arman. Without our tribes, ladies, we are nothing.
I’m so grateful these five fictional women were a bigger part of my influences than the warbling princesses looking for a Prince Charming. There’s room for all of these versions of what it means to be a girl/woman but let’s get our girls caring more about strength, purpose, and fierceness rather than being pretty princesses.
Who are your Sheroes? Tell us in the comments below: