Cool Girls Club
When I was nine, I idolized Hermione Granger. I had just finished the Harry Potter series, and I was convinced that she was everything I aspired to be--bookish and intelligent, a powerful witch who stood up for what she believed in, but who could also snag the world’s best Quidditch player as a prom date. If anything, this says more about my insecurities as a pre-teen than J.K. Rowling’s character crafting abilities.
I grew up in an age when powerful women dominated the media scene. Fourth-wave feminism was gradually integrating itself into pop culture, and actresses, authors, models, and everyone in between seemed to be weighing in. It became my habit to obsess and fangirl, and the more I learned about these women, the more I dreamed I was them.
Because the truth was, I was nothing like these women as a young teenager. I was a gawky, geeky, five foot nine twelve-year-old with social anxiety who tripped over her own feet. And so gradually, my respect for these women turned to envy. Middle school--as it inevitably becomes for many girls--was plagued with deep self-loathing. I would come home and read Bossypants or Yes Please and wonder why I couldn’t make people laugh. I watched Jennifer Lawrence trip at the Oscars and wondered how falling down made her more endearing in the public eye. On TV, Michelle Obama was looking beautiful and becoming one of the most socially active first ladies in history. And of course, J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson were having the time of their lives finishing the last Harry Potter films. I felt stuck, I felt awkward, and I couldn’t feel confident.
It wasn’t until recently that I embraced a new set of ideals. I still fangirl, and I still create my aspirations based on the previous achievements of others, but in a much healthier way. I learned the success of other women does not negate my own success, and the reason why many famous women got to where they are is because they too were weird and quirky, but loud about it. At this point in my life, I am not searching for fame, but acceptance without compromise--It’s all of me or nothing.
The most important lesson I have learned over the past year is that it is important to feel gratification from within, and when that happens, appreciation from the outside world will surely follow. I am not the same woman as Tina Fey or Amy Poehler or Jennifer Lawrence or Michelle Obama or even Hermione Granger, but that’s why I am important. I do not love myself every day, but I am proud of who I have become and who I will grow to be.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Groustra, Sarah. "Cool Girls Club." 9 June 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 7, 2020) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/cool-girls-club>.