Let’s hear it for the real heroes – ‘normal little girls!’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Isn’t it strange how our heroes change over time? I remember thinking Electrowoman and Dynagirl on the Krofft Superstars were the absolute end when I was about 6 years old. They were tough, smart and pretty – all the things I aspired to be. My sister and I would race around the house in our bathing suits (red and yellow, just like our heroes’ outfits) and blanket capes, pretending to save the world.

Then my admiration ran to Wonder Woman, who was along the same lines as Electrowoman and Dynagirl, except she worked as some sort of military secretary or something. Hey, that was a start – at least she was using her brain. And she WAS strong and brave.

Email newsletter signup

At about 8 years old I adored Nancy Drew, which was a big step for me. She was supposedly pretty, yes, but she was also very smart. She was smarter than her boyfriend, which was a revelation to me. I think Princess Leia fit in here somewhere, too.

Over the years, my female heroes continued to evolve. At 10 I identified with Beth, the shy homebody, from "Little Women," until her sister, Jo, the restless outsider, became my ideal for myself.

And then adolescence hit and I became a bit jaded, I think. Who doesn’t at that age, right? Heroes, shmeroes! But then something odd and wonderful happened.

I began to talk to the women in my family and older family friends. I learned how many terribly, harrowing things they’d been through and my admiration for them grew. They were beautiful because of each thing they had endured or done during their life, not because of make-up, hairspray and a superhero costume.

Some had stayed home and raised several children, giving up the careers they had prior to marriage; some had been beaten or ridiculed for years before they threw out their husbands; some had worked for years in the same job and had become successful in their fields; and some had simply spent their lives trying to be the prettiest ladies and best wives they could be.

No matter what seemingly insignificant contribution each had made, something in the world had changed because of them. I was where I was because of where they had been.

Now my idols are Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the women who scan my groceries, sell me soap and cut my hair. Really. Everyone who keeps trying when they could just stop and give up is a hero in my book.

And saying that, I’m reminded of some current TV stars who are held up as heroes by some children – The Powerpuff Girls.

They’re cute, sweet and the entire weight of the city of Townsville is on their shoulders. Ironic, I know, since they are three cute wide-eyed little girls. Can they really save the world? They do regularly, but their show is also written tongue-in-cheek, so the writers play with the show’s premise at times.

Though Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup are great, and I adore watching them, my favorite Powerpuff moment came at their expense. Their archenemy, Mojo Jojo, infiltrated a slumber party the girls were having and threw a chemical on them to render them powerless. It worked.

The other girls attending the party were stunned and Mojo began to mock them because they were not the Powerpuff Girls: "Useless, normal little girls, who can’t do anything because they’re normal." Well, like any liberated girl should who is called normal in a derogatory way, the girls go mental on Mojo.

I’ll refrain from speaking about violence in cartoons for right now so that I can get to my point. For once, the superhero didn’t finish the show on top – the "normal girls" did. The narrator’s last line struck me and made me smile: "For the very first time, the day is saved because of the normal little girls!"

The first? I don’t think so … and definitely not the last.