Today, my #29for29 list is something that I needed to write…so I could read it and be inspired by it in the coming days.
The start of this school year has been the roughest by far, and I’ve needed the strength of my favorite fictional female BAMFs to get me through. Don’t know what a BAMF is? Check Urban Dictionary and it’ll get resolved pretty quickly.
I’m not about feminist shaming or critiques of “strong, female characters” that you see online – because I think that the best way to encourage women to be strong is to recognize women for who they want to be – feminine, smart, physically strong, emotionally strong, whatever – so long as they’re true to themselves, no matter what anyone thinks.
These women all are, which in my book makes them bamf-tastic.
29. Olivia Benson When my roommate and I weren’t in class or out making new friends our freshman year of college, we were learning how to be strong, independent women via the TV in our dorm room by watching Olivia Benson do her thing.
28. Mrs. Groetke I wish I was as badass as Mrs. Groetke is everyday teaching her students the truth instead of what her bosses or the education agencies tell her to. Preach, fam!
27. Victoria Grant (Victor/Victoria) Victoria Grant is a woman who makes the world that she lives in work for her. Even if that means that she has to pretend to be a man to get what she deserves…and when love comes around? She still refuses to compromise her own success to make her partner comfortable. Bamfed.
26. Jasmine I know this is going to be a controversial pick for a lot of traditional feminists due to the whole outfit and Disney and blah…but let’s be real – Jasmine was pretty badass to keep sneaking out of the palace, have a tiger as a pet, defy expectations, and get on a carpet that appeared to be flying. That all takes some chutzpah. Plus, her sass…
25. Matilda As much as I like the movie, I’m fairly certain that the book Matilda, who teaches herself to survive in a family that neglects and dresses her down for her intelligence on the daily while still holding on to enough strength to rebel at school as well is more impressive.
24. Lucille Bluth Half the judging faces and half the threats I make are from this woman. She may be insane, racist, and a raging bitch, but she is unapologetically herself and I love her for it. I have actually said the following line several times.
23. Juno This character does everything to protect her baby’s future and ensure it a good life, and eventually, to do the right thing for her world. She’s not always happy about it, but she does it and handles her life. This is more than I can do on a regular basis.
22. Jessie Alden If you know who this character is, we should be best friends. If not, that’s okay – she’s the oldest sibling in the Boxcar Children series of books, and takes care of all of them at the young age of 12, acting as mother. I wanted to be her as a kid.
21. The women of Firefly Seriously, I love all their personalities. Combined, they represent the most powerful part of women – the power of sexuality, the power of vulnerability and heart, the power of strength and resiliency, and the power of intelligence.
20. Edna Mode I just love her and her sass. So much sass in such a tiny body.
19. Lady Katsa One of my all-time fave YA heroines, who definitely beats any of the other recently popular leading ladies, is this chick. She’s tragically misunderstood, even by herself, which speaks to the strength of her character for forging onward and fulfilling a destiny she doesn’t completely understand.
18. Rome in Magic Mike XXL #lifegoals. That’s all.
17. The Dowager Countess Dame Maggie Smith plays some amazing characters, but the Dowager is one of my favorites. She has a confidence I can only dream of.
16. Spinelli Spinelli represents the little girl we all have inside ourselves who is proud to be a badass and not worried about what guys – or other girls – think of it. One day I will be her for Halloween and it will be so glorious that I won’t know what to do with myself.
15. Rizzo (Grease) Look, I work in a high school and any student who can flaunt a shimmery pink jacket, drawing more attention to her while everyone’s already buzzing with rumors is essentially #bamfgoals.
14. Seven of Nine She survived separation from the strongest kind of family, sought out ways to make herself a better person, and wore an outfit that was essentially painted on. Communicator drop.
13. B’Elana Torres As much as I’m impressed by Seven’s character, I’ve always really loved Voyager’s chief engineer best, because she’s a boss in a male-dominated field, snags and tames the ship playboy, and has other struggles I can relate to…and hope I learn to accept as I get older, too.
12. The women of Bones Once again, all of these women are talented and don’t need a man or family to be complete, though they all eventually allow themselves to choose at least one of them to enrich their lives.
11. Pincess Leia I don’t know why some feminists cry foul over the Golden Bikini scene when she was obviously being held against her will there…when not imprisoned, she’s a firecracker rebellion leader who stands up to Han Solo’s good looks until he actually earns her respect.
10. Liz Lemon Liz Lemon is real. Liz Lemon is a hot mess. Liz Lemon is me in a few years, if I’m lucky.
9. Ms. Frizzle Okay, so I may dress like Ms Frizzle, which takes one kind of bravery, but I’m not a scientist, and I’m not magic, and I’ve never flaunted school district rules to endanger my students in the name of learning. Well…at least, not that I’ll admit. So she gets the #BAMFteacher award fo’ sho’.
8. Thursday Next She’s a literary detective in an alternate world where books are so important that forgeries and crimes against literature have their own dedicated task force. That’s amazing enough, but then she manages to go INTO BOOKS to protect literature from its own pages? And she finds time to start a family? The woman can do it all.
7. Holly Golightly She approaches everything with grace and enthusiasm. Which, in consideration of how her life is actually going, takes a lot of strength and bravery to do each day.
6. Elizabeth Bennet It takes a lot of strength to defy male expectations in the age of Pride and Prejudice. It takes even more strength to admit when you’re wrong AND own your weaknesses without losing confidence, which Lizzie does quite well.
5. Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You Yes, I know that Kat Stratford is modeled after a Shakespearean character. No, I don’t want to change my mind and list the original. Why? Because being a feminist with a dedication to rebellion, college dreams, and atoning for your previous bad decisions is a rough path to take, but Kat chose it. And she owned every minute of the screen, even when she realized that maybe the best choice was to drop the hardline and allow herself to be happy.
4. Cat Ballou The star of this 60s Western musical comedy (oh yes) is surrounded by useless men, some who want to help her, some who want to kill her, and others who merely want to oppress her. But, as every woman knows she should, she ultimately eschews “man-splaining” and “man skills” and takes care of business herself.
3. Captain Janeway I would say that I learned probably 75% of how to be a strong, independent woman from Captain Janeway, thanks to my dad’s nerdy guidance in encouraging me to watch the entire series. There were even times as a young child that when people would say “WWJD” as an answer or piece of advice, I would pretend the “J” stood for Janeway. I figured out what to do a helluva lot faster that way – since the Janeway answer is always either drink coffee, say no, or make an intense facial expression to tell the other person how wrong and/or stupid they are.
2. Hermione Hermione is smart, goal-oriented, honest, caring, and above-all loyal. She keeps Harry and Ron in check, refuses to apologize for her dedication to academics, and also values herself enough to not settle for the position of “back up date.” But, more importantly, she punches Malfoy in the face. Fan-bamfing-tastic.
1. Megara It’s no secret that I absolutely love Disney’s oft-neglected heroine, who was (imho) the real star of Hercules, because I believe that it takes a truly strong woman to sacrifice everything for love, get over the betrayal, make compromises to survive, refuse to swoon over the hunk of the week, and then do it all over again when you realize he’s the real thing. Sometimes, the greatest strength is in vulnerability, and Meg proves it.