Several months ago, I had a talk with my roommate about our first AOL screennames.
I can name some pretty memorable ones just off the top of my head. Billababe247. Skateboardingskier10. Starburst7344 (That’s right Boucher, I remember yours). And to our 5th, 6th, 7th etc minds, the decision behind this name was huge. I mean it was your online identity. You would never say you were “snowboardingchick06” if you didn’t actually snowboard. If you did, well then you were a TOTAL poser, and really was there any worse insult?
These were serious grounds to determine your popularity status and your friend group throughout the rest of your school-bound days. If you were “godsgirl45”, you DID NOT hang out with “sexychica04” (who by the way probably is pregnant now, so good move godsgirl45) and if you liked zumiez skateboarding brand you did not hang out with the guy who’s screen name had abercrombie in it. Ugh Prep! I mean come on! This is middle school 101. And you knew the drill. Remember when your best friend or that boy or girl you liked got online you would talk to them for several hours and then print off the conversation and show all your friends the next day… was this just me? Is that weird? Whatever you guys.
..In retrospect, we were probably all better off just never getting online–but what was true then, continues to be true now in regards to today’s current social media. How many times have I just thought screw it, I hate you Facebook. I don’t want to read about this person from high school. I don’t want to see the guy I used to like is dating someone new. Please stop changing your layout. Please stop sending me notifications about things I don’t care about!!!
…But like a pathetic addicted junkie, I can’t leave it. I’m stuck with you social media. And it all started back in our hormone crazed, confused pre-teen years with our stupid silly screen names.
And actually today, I am not going to write about my addiction to social media or my middle school lifestyle choices.
But I AM going to share with you the story behind one of my first screen names. Because while most middle schoolers branded themselves with a sport or a clothing brand, I chose the woman I idolized even beyond Josh Hartnett, the movie Titanic, the color Pink and the entire clothing line available at Pacific Sunwear.
Miss Elle Woods.
When I was 11, I was on a plane ride to Maui for Thanksgiving. I remember it distinctly because it was one of the first times I was allowed to watch an in-flight movie. And also because I was extremely bitter that I had to sit in the middle seat because my brother got the window seat LAST TIME and I was absolutely positive that it was my turn THIS TIME and then my mom swooped in and somehow my brother got the seat AGAIN “because he gets cranky” in the middle seat. I observed that the logic in this situation was evidently flawed. And I was just about to set them straight when they suggested the in-flight movie.
My 6th grade brain registered this as a semi-legitimate trade-off. And even though I was aware that the movie was my parents way of evening the playing field of which I was clearly a victim of a classic case of duping the older child to apease the younger.. I took them up on it. But I was no idiot. This was a seven hour flight. This deal had some potential leverage on my end. And I wasn’t above pouting if it meant other advantages in my future as well (mental list: puka shell necklace. a new swimsuit. ice cream.) Even at 11, I knew how to make a bleak situation arise to my advantage. Because what can I say..some people choose to look at the glass as half-full, and others have that attitude forced upon them. And I am the latter. This isn’t really a choice.
Anyway, as I’m sure you could guess, this particular flight was showing the new release of the film, Legally Blonde. I remember very little from that trip to Maui, but I do remember watching that movie. First reaction, was the amount of pink in the opening credits. And the shoes. And the cute boys. From then on, I was 11 going on 18 year old co-ed. College here I come.
And little did I know how large of an effect this particular movie would have on me until this very day. From the opening to closing credits, I was absolutely spell-bound/dumb-struck/ in awe of the magnificence of the screen before me. It completely changed my life. I walked on to this plane your basic 11-year-old girl with a shallow and simplistic lifestyle. I walked off that plane with just as shallow of a lifestyle. Hey.. I was 11. But NOW I had goals and a destination in life.
I wanted to be Elle Woods.
I would be Elle Woods.
Elle Woods was my idol.
Everyone has idols. Or at least someone who inspires them. Some one who failed and succeeded. Who overcame the odds. Who fought adversity and was finally rewarded for their efforts. Some people have Marie Curie. Some have Mother Theresa. Some have Martin Luther King Jr. Some have Helen Keller (…ok really guys, some one does have Helen Keller) But Me? Elle Woods. To this day.
And this isn’t to say I don’t have more “legitimate” idols. But Elle has been there for me before these idols took place. She was my first.
I’m sure many of you laugh at this. But what many people don’t see, is in this simplistic and cliche chick flick, is the inspiration I found in Elle’s character.
Because of Elle Woods, I joined a sorority. Not because of all the pink and glitter (though, those helped) but because I also wanted to be President. And then I wanted to be Valedictorian. And then read a speech that inspired hundreds. And then get married and live happily ever after. (I was 11 guys, lay off.) Joining a sorority was just a building block in my master plan to becoming the brunette Elle Woods. I had no idea what college I wanted to go to. But from the tender age of 11, I’ve been a sorority girl.
People in my sorority who really know me, will smile at this. They know how obsessed I was with being involved. For me it wasn’t just a sorority. I loved that house, I loved those girls and I loved being a part of the greek system. And say what you want, but I came to KU and met pretty much everyone I know because of that movie. I based about 90% of my decision to come to KU because it reminded me of the opening credits of Legally Blonde. I don’t usually tell people that. It makes me seem silly and trivial. But at 17, I was! And thank god for that! Because going to KU was one of the greatest decisions I ever made.
But even, college and greek life aside, Elle is and was my idol because she’s defiance of a stereotype. She’s a blonde, well-endowed sorority girl from Belair who talks like she could be on a late-night phone service program but despite all of these obvious demographical strikes against her, she had brains enough to get into Harvard and arise to the top of her class and get back at her one-dimensional and cruel ex-boyfriend. And yes, the plot of Legally Blonde is silly and trivial and she wins a huge murder trial based on the grounds of perm-hair care maintenance but what girl alive would disagree that her story isn’t at least a little bit of how they would picture their life turning out? At least on a basic level. Get back at the jerks, rise to the top, prove everyone wrong and come out of it with a crest-worthy smile and a killer pair of legs? Yeah.. you know I’m right.
I’ve spent most of adolescence conquering my feelings of insecurity and self-doubt with a 96 minute movie and the accompanying soundtrack. The first song I listened to when I finally got my license? Perfect Day. Hoku. Opening single. The first speech I gave in my high school public rhetoric class? Elle’s 2004 Harvard Graduation speech.
I can quote every line verbatim and It’s probably a good thing my hair isn’t blonde or I would have gone as her for Halloween for several consecutive years in a row.
I loved that woman.
And now… several years later, I have no intention of following any man to law school/anywhere for that matter. I was never valedictorian in anything and I never became my sorority president. I never will have blonde barbie hair and I hate any dog that could potentially resemble a large rodent (sorry Bruiser) But all this reality aside, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to come out with an Elle Woods victory when I finish what I start. Because the reason I still love this movie, goes so much deeper than the plot itself. The overall message that I get from Elle time and time and time again is despite all the odds against you, with enough determination – your life is yours kid. And to let anyone decide your fate for you, well that would be the dumbest decision of all.
Through Elle, I continue to remind myself if everyone just stuck to what society expected of them and never took a leap of faith and never stuck it out through the seemingly impossible and never told themselves I CAN do this, even if no one else thinks I can… well maybe it’s just me… but I don’t think we’d have many people we could truly call our idols. Or happy endings at all for that matter.
So thats why at 22, though I ditched my silly little screen name long ago along with many other youthful wishful occasionally ridiculous ambitions, Elle Woods continues to remain my favorite little idol.
Because I think there’s a little bit in all of us who want to be more like the girl who woke up one morning and thought:
I think I’ll go to law school today.
“It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world. Remembering that first impressions are not always correct, you must always have faith in people and most importantly…You must always have faith in yourself. “
To my favorite gemini vegetarian-