I Can be a Powerpuff Girl, Too

On some mornings, I wake up and remember weird things my mom told me when I was a kid. The other day, I had one of those mornings. 

For some reason, when I rolled out of bed the first thing that popped in my head was the Powerpuff Girls. You know, those three cute little girl superheroes in pink, blue, and green. And I remembered that my mom almost didn't let me watch them.

Back when she told me this, I asked why. I thought she maybe assumed it was junk that would rot my brain. I know enough about my mother to know that violence in TV has never bothered her, but she often called colorful cartoons "junk."

The real reason she told me was because of the title. "I didn't like that they were called Powerpuff Girls, like they're powerful girls. I thought that sounded feminist," she told me.

I was a child when I watched the Powerpuff Girls, and a teen when my mother told me I almost was forbidden from watching them. As a teen, I asked her what had changed her mind and she said she happened upon an episode while flipping through the channels and thought the show was cute. So since it was cute, I could watch it. 

Now, I realize for you reading this that my mother's words must sound crazy. But this is just the kind of person she is. She had the option to send me to an all-girls' school but didn't because the school emphasized the importance of "sisterhood" and she told me that would turn me into a "woman's libber." This article isn't about how weird my mom is. I don't have enough time in the world to delve into why I think any woman would actively want to be submissive to men. No, this article is about the Powerpuff Girls. 

And it's about other shows like it. Looking back, TV, books, and movies really shaped who I am. When I was just a kid watching the Powerpuff Girls, I, like my mom, just thought it was cute. But now, as an adult, I realize the hidden messages. The show taught me I can be feminine, like pink, and be kind and cute and tough all at once. The Powerpuff girls taught me that just because something looks girly and feminine, that the doesn't mean it's not tough and feminist. I might not have realized it at the time, but this show, and others like it, planted seeds in my mind that would blossom later. 

Feminine and girly are not the opposite of tough. Being feminine is strong. Being a girl is powerful.

The Susan B. Anthony episode in particular has stuck with me through the years. In real life, Susan B. Anthony refused to pay bail when she was jailed for voting. She wanted to serve the time to make a point. When her lawyer paid the bail and told her he did so because he didn't want to see a woman in jail, Anthony was disappointed. She didn't want special treatment for being a woman. She broke the law, and she wanted to be treated like a man breaking the law even though the law she broke was unjust. 

In the Powerpuff Girls episode, the villain is a woman who tries to convince the Powerpuff Girls not to take her down because she's a woman. By the end of the episode, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup decide that just because she's a woman that doesn't mean she's above the law. And that always stuck with me. 

It might seem small and it might seem silly, but I assure you that the show is anything but insignificant to me. And on some deeper level, my mother knew it. And I was lucky that the cuteness of the show helped her overlook the feminist message of three powerful girls routinely saving the city. 

To a kid, the Powerpuff Girls are real. To a kid, the Powerpuff Girls represent what I could grow up to be. That goes for every show, book, and movie. Representation isn't just important: it's essential. 

You can be a Powerpuff Girl, and I can, too. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s