In the second half of the 1990’s the Spice Girls loudly and boldly rode a new wave of feminism into the mainstream. They coined ‘girl power’ as their catchphrase, saying “feminism has become a dirty word. Girl Power is just a Nineties way of saying it.” Long after their breakup (sob), their legacy lived on and we saw girl power figures grace our screens in some of our favourite 90s and 00s cartoons and TV shows. Here we salute the fictional icons of our childhood who taught us to embrace girl power long after the credits rolled.
Whilst we may not have realised it at the time, let’s be real, Velma was the glue that held Mystery Inc. together. As the only fifth of the gang with any brains, Velma was usually the one to figure out which creepy old man was under the monster mask each episode, on top of pretty much saving everyone else from being captured in the process. Her practical mustard cowl neck may not have been as on-trend as Daphne’s purple minidress, but she taught us that being chubbier, having freckles and wearing glasses doesn’t mean that you can’t be the hero. And come on, her dedication to colour coordination cannot be faulted.
Fiercely independent and armed with an IQ of 159, we all grew up watching 8 year old Lisa on The Simpsons. Young she may be, but her maturity is triple that of the rest of her yellow faced family, and she is not ashamed to always be her true self. Whether it was shutting down a family barbecue to preach about vegetarianism, or launching her own feminist doll in protest of the newest fashion doll spewing misogynistic catchphrases, Lisa knew how to use her voice and be the change she wanted to see. Go girl!
Anyone with a brother or older sibling can relate to Dora Winifred (but definitely don’t call her by her full name) Read. You’d be hard pressed to find someone as independent as DW at just six years old, and while she may not be about the loud activism that Lisa Simpson loves, she werks her wicked sass and proves she is just as important as her brother Arthur.
The Powerpuff Girls
They may be a concoction of sugar, spice and all things nice, but that’s where the fluffiness ends when it comes to the Powerpuff Girls. Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup are undeniably feminists, and aside from the fact that they don’t need no man to help them save the world every single episode, they often remind us of the importance of equality and never conforming to gender stereotypes. Girl power and pigtails are the perfect pairing.
Cheerleading super villain fighter Kim Possible is the ultimate feminist badass. Not only did she smash gender stereotypes by mastering karate and gymnastics in order to slay her enemies, she was always saving her kind of useless sidekick Ron Stoppable, proving that men don’t always have to be the heroes. On top of all that, Kim taught us that being smart is cool, and daydreaming about boys doesn’t make you any less of a badass. And we totally blame her for bringing back cargo pants.
Which of your childhood fave TV shows taught you the meaning of girl power? It’s definitely time to get re-watching!
Words: Hannah Grafton
The UK's first Career & Lifestyle Magazine for women in the Creative and Media industries.