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Nostalgia


Author
Rina Grob
contributor
︎ (@rina_grob)
website: millennialapproaches.com

Rina is just here to eat her way through various cities, pet dogs, write nonsense at 3 am in fits of insomnia, and consume copious amounts of coffee and diet coke.



Dear Diary, 

I am a sucker for nostalgia. It is what it is. So naturally what better way to spend this Christmas time than rereading my favorite books as a child.

As you may have seen JK Rowling ruined our collective childhoods by exposing herself as a despicable human. Whilst her words are deplorable and unforgivable. Her thoughtless words did lead me to reading up on horrible portrayals and other micro aggression against various groups of people in her novels I didn’t catch when I was 12. Whilst I am thankful for having my eyes opened it did hurt to realize a book that had such a profound influence on me as a child was tainted with horrible prejudice.

I was incredibly anxious to reread other books I greedily consumed as a child, that shaped me during my formative years, hoping they would live up.

Besides Harry Potter I was obsessed with the Princess Diaries (this book is 100% the reason I became obsessed with New York and eventually moved there)

If you aren’t familiar with the series it’s the story of Mia Thermopolis a 14 year old girl living in New York with her single mom just trying to make it through freshmen year of high school when suddenly her absentee father announce surprise you are heir to the throne of a tiny nation called Genovia (based on irl Monaco.) At this point I should mention I love the first movie - it’s amazing but it pales in comparison with the books- the second movie shall not be mentioned - I refuse to acknowledge that that travesty exists. 

The Princess Diaries was first published in 2000 and let me tell you in 2020 it still slaps. Mia is the perfect teenage hero. She is awkward, she wants to save the environment (this was the year 2000 ya’ll) she has crushes, she is failing algebra, she over thinks, she is obsessed with her cat, but best of all she is a feminist.

A wonderful colleague of mine host workshops on female pleasure. During the workshop she asked us what messages we received as a child or as a teenagers about female masturbation. Immediately my mind went to the princess diaries. In one memorable scene. Mia is anxious about potentially sleeping with her boyfriend and her friend Lana tells her to practice at home with the water faucet of her bathtub.

I want you to think back to any media you consumed as a teenager. Other than the princess diaries I can’t think of any that not only mentioned female masturbation but also presented it with positive connotations.

The Princess Diaries was the first time I had ever heard the term feminism, or even heard women proudly and positively identify as one. I hungrily consumed it as a teenagers because it was the first time I saw myself reflected in a form of mass media that didn’t gloss over or trivialise my worries.

Take the basic bitch: Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Uggs, or boybands, all products heavily marketed towards girls, yet overly mocked and ridiculed in mass media.

Being a girl is a trap. The media made for you, the products marketed at you, they will take your money then ridicule you for it. They will indoctrinate you with sexist stereotypes then punish you for adhering to them.

There is nothing wrong with the Bella Swans of the world, but its problematic when its only Bellas who are represented. As the great Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie mentions in her Ted Talk The Danger of a Single Story "The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story."

I wouldn’t be who I am today without Mia Thermopolis. Mia taught me it was okay to not get math, to cry on your fire escape (like I had one lol) and that its okay to change your mind. But most of all Mia made me a feminist. So Thank you Mia Thermopolis.

Ps. It didn’t really fit in any where but Meg Cabot had a transgender character in her novel for teenagers in the year 2000. Mia’s neighbour Ronnie is a bad ass. While she is a background character she is a fleshed out character. She is never misgendered or dead named. There are one or two comments made that aren’t great. Sigh