I am in the very small percentage of females who were raised by their Father, and let me tell you, I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive for that. My Daddy married my Step Mom Lauren when I was 4, and when I went to live with them when I was 11, Lauren was well into her career running the local country club, which was the premier event location in our entire county, and that kept her very busy. So while some little girls were shopping, playing dress up and being a Girl Scout, I was learning how to drive the tractor, build a shed and change the oil in my Daddy’s Dakota 4×4. We would spend weekends camping, doing reconstruction projects around the property, and listening to Jimmy Buffett on repeat.
When I was 13 , things started to change. I was a physical late bloomer, if you get my drift. The need for a bra and a tampon hit me like a brick wall, and my Daddy had NO idea what to do. We went to the store, he handed me some cash, and he waited in the car while I bought some feminine hygiene products. I don’t blame him. It was just a weird day for all of us. And when my sister came to visit soon thereafter, she took me to buy the bra. Thank goodness.
So as soon as this all happened, my Step Mom gave me the talk and then drove me to the library where we checked out Flowers In The Attic by VC Andrews. (Please if you haven’t read it, you really need to.) Throughout the book, the older character Cathy goes through some pretty serious changes, much like what I was dealing with, and it felt good to have a way to understand it. And then the book gets super dark and twisty, and I was grateful I didn’t have to identify to that as well.
I devoured that book. I devoured the series. I devoured everything by the author. And I spent the summer of 1999 in the library reading everything I could get my hands on.
Jane Austen gave me Elizabeth, and she taught me to be steadfast in my beliefs and that I deserve no less than what I feel like I am worth. Lewis Carroll gave me Alice who taught me to always believe in magic and the wonders of adventure. Charlotte Bronte gave me Jane, and she taught me to love with everything I have. Cecily Von Ziegesar gave me Blair and Serena, and they taught me to fight for what I want, to be loyal, to be a good friend, and that high school wouldn’t define the rest of my life. And JK Rowling gave me Hermione. Hermione taught me to be brave, and that it’s ok to be a nerd, that books are cool, and that when in doubt, I should just go to the library.
I still find myself drawn to those books when I need a reminder or pick me up. Especially Harry Potter. (Which I have read and listened to no less than 100 times.) But more and more lately I find myself attracted to all the strong and powerful females of literature. And I hope to pass along my love of books and fierce females to my daughter, who watches me read for hours a day, and currently thinks Miss Frizzle is the coolest lady on planet earth. She clearly hasn’t seen Molly Weasley take out Bellatrix Lestrange yet.
Who are your favorite female literary role models?