Twenty-three years, four months, and 21 days ago, I was born in a smallish (at the time) town on the Missouri River during one of the town's most horrific storms of all time. Unfortunately, it was a small tornado, one of few recorded going through the town, since it's on a bluff. To this day, I am deathly afraid of storms (and ironically it's starting to thunder very loudly outside my window as I write this...), but during the final moments of my birth, I was smiling as the storm was raging. My parents have told me the story over and over again, and I'll gladly spare you every detail, but they've always brought forth the question: why was their little girl smiling instead of crying like most newborns?
They decided upon a rather rainbowy-and-lollipop kind of answer to this question, believing that it was because I knew upon that moment (not even minutes old), that I was special. While I love my mom and dad and think it very sweet of them to feed me with the same junk Barney taught me at age two, I think I was smiling for a much different reason. That reason being-- that I was a 90s baby and would soon grow up during one of the most influential periods of the time. I knew what I was getting into. God must have shown me what was to come- a period when Windows 95 would become my new best friend, my sixth birthday-bike would become stamped with Rugrats stickers, the living room shelf would fill itself with Disney VHS tapes as each one was released, and my Walkman radio would become the Apple Ipod's great, great uncle and my escape from reality of elementary school as I rollerbladed up and down my neighborhood in my Powerpuff Girl rollerblades. Sounds pretty fantastical as I recall this. I may be pretty biased, though, because I'm talking about my easier, less complicated days where my usual worries consisted of what I was going to wear to school and how I could become the "popular girl" that everyone wanted to be friends with. Luckily for me, I found out popularity wasn't everything as I entered the fifth grade, thanks to a show that may or may not have impacted my life. I say that it did, just because it taught me that it was okay to be myself. Even though I was a very accident-prone, teacher's petsy kind of girl with an obsession for Harry Potter (when people thought it was okay to make fun of you for liking HP). When times got tough, this show was my go-to for all kinds of advice. Anyone wanna take a guess?
Oh, yeah. You probably already knew what it was before I got to this part because it's in the title :P Here it is anyway! *drum roll* DUH DUH DUHHHHHHHH!
Sadly, pre-teens and adolescents don't know who or what a Lizzie McGuire is, but I can tell you that this show is one of the best shows for young teens, even today. I decided to travel back to the 00-01 era, when I was about ten years old, and rewatch the Disney veteran show. Now at 22, my feelings haven't changed toward the show. I still love it and do not feel too old to be watching it, nor do I feel that it's outdated. Although the show is thirteen years old and hasn't been on television for some time, it should appropriately have its own space for reruns. It's just that good.
While watching Lizzie, I just couldn't help but feel for the youngsters of today, my youngest brother being a part of that very group at twelve years old. Today, I have yet to find a show on Disney or Nickelodeon (or anywhere else for that matter) that discusses the real life issues that Lizzie discussed. For those who have forgotten, let's rewind.
Lessons Learned from Lizzie:
1) Rumors- Rumors are hurtful and overrated. When Lizzie accidentally started one about her enemy, Queen Bee Kate, she thought she'd never live it down. But the episode taught in the end, it was necessary and rightfully just if you fessed up to starting a rumor while also taking account for your actions, without excuses. It also discussed facing your fears, Lizzie's being that she was too afraid to stand up to Kate. Though, any other avid Lizzie fans know that that changed over both seasons.
2) Do what you love- Lizzie found she was great at rhythmic gymnastics, but "absolutely hated" the sport. The show ended with Lizzie winning first in regionals, but admitting to her friends and parents that it wasn't her forte. No one forced her to stay and everyone agreed it was better to partake in something you're passionate about. Go with something you're good at and love. Even if it takes a couple (or multiple) dingers to get there!
3) Lying- There were many episodes in which Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo found it necessary to tell a few white lies, but in one Lizzie adventure, the three decided to lie to Lizzie's parents and sneak into an R-rated movie. Her parents found out their scheme before the trio made it out of the movie and watched as the gang cooked up a series of fibs in order to keep the 'rents from discovering where they really were. They didn't get off easy-- all three were grounded. Plain grounded. Which pretty much meant at the time, everything was off-limits. No iPhones or computers taken away, but everything was off-limits, including hangout time with friends. Sounds pretty bad, but if you're a 90s kid like me, you know that it was just the drill in your household. That is, if you got in trouble a lot.
4) Beauty comes from within- As Gordo reminds us in the school picture day episode, being well-liked by someone should not be because of what you wear, but because of who you are on the inside. While Lizzie didn't want to wear her nanna's beloved unicorn sweater because of how she would be remembered in the yearbook, she came to the conclusion (after getting green goop spilled on her) that it wasn't the end of the world to be a goody two-shoes unicorn-wearing gal, as long as you were a good, happy person. P.S. Lizzie, I still want that sweater.
5) Moms aren't so bad- In fact, they can sometimes give pretty good advice. They may not always be right, and amazingly, Disney didn't fail to hide this on the show when Lizzie's mom admitted she was wrong more than a few times. But Lizzie's mom is a reminder that not all moms are perfect, and sometimes they have the best advice. Moms can be your friends, too. Just spare from dressing alike and acting like pals all the time. Remember, a mom is also a parent.
6.) Relationships- Girls and boys are complicated. Girls and boys and dating are even more complicated. Lizzie McGuire taught us that getting your heart broken is common after your first "relationship," but there are plenty of fish in the sea. Good thing Gordo stuck around- long enough for Lizzie to realize he was there through all of those heartbreaks (and he was right for her ;) ).
7.) Babysitting- You probably remember your first experience sitting on babies, too. In Lizzie, we were taught that sometimes it's not a good thing to go all Home-Alone and set up a bunch of booby traps because of a crazy person trying to break in, who actually ends up being your father just checking up on you. Luckily, Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo pass the ultimate check-up test by calling 9-1-1- before setting up the infamous traps and injuring Mr. McGuire (who learns to trust his daughter after the incident).
8.) Love thy neighbor- Unfortunately, we've all wanted to walk away from doing the "right thing" because it seemed so wrong at the time. With middle school comes many trials, some having to stand up to our enemies, some having to help our enemies. Lizzie taught us that it's better to help someone in need, enemy or not. Although Kate isn't the nicest crayon in the box, Lizzie finds herself helping Kate more than a handful of times because it's what's right. Props to you, Lizzie.
9.) Popularity isn't everything- Said no one ever. Jk. Lizzie McGuire gave us the perspective that being popular meant you were a snobby cheerleader or jock. Though this was/is probably the case at many middle schools, it isn't everywhere. In some places, being "popular" means being nice, funny, well-liked, and kind. But we were mainly reminded that even if you aren't "popular" like the cheerleaders and jocks at Lizzie's school, you still mean something to your best buds. There's nothing Miranda and Gordo wouldn't have done for Lizzie.
10.) Be yourself! One of the most important lessons in Lizzie is to be yourself! While in many episodes Lizzie and Miranda yearn to dress like celebrities, shoot for popularity like Kate Sanders, and strive to gain Ethan Craft's attention with vintage rat-pack music they don't even listen to, Gordo points out to them time and time again that it's okay to like whatever you want with or without anyone's approval. It's also okay to be who you want, as long as you do it in good taste (i.e. don't become the "bad-girl McGuire" [see episode for details]). Of course, Lizzie and Miranda discover this lesson on their own and in the end, everyone is happy.
So there you have it! Ten lessons I've weeded out from Lizzie McGuire to share/re-share with all of you. Whether you're going through middle school, high school, college, a new job, or even a new stage in life, some of these lessons are gonna stick around. Let's not forget the lessons Lizzie's parents taught us too-- that everyone makes mistakes, even in their 40s and 50s. Not everyone's perfect, and Lizzie was far from it, but the show? Classic. As much as I love/loved Hannah Montana, I would much rather see Disney Channel airing Lizzie all day, a show about a real girl. Because let's be honest: how many average teens wake up each morning stressing over trying to get their homework done by the time they have to go on stage in front of millions of people every night? Not many. But there are plenty who need help bra shopping, with relationship advice, and close friends who tell 'em like it is. Thanks, Lizzie!
Anyone wanting to revisit Lizzie episodes can check them out here. Enjoy!
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