“I’m a smart, strong, sensual woman”, says Tina Belcher in an episode of “Bob’s Burgers” when she proclaims her own self worth instead of conforming to the norms expected of a privileged teenage girl in her attempts to get her guy, the lisping dance fiend Jimmy Jr. She is often awkward, clearly not the most popular girl in school, and isn’t acceptably normal enough. Yet she doesn’t apologise nor does she self-loath. Tina is not just a feminist but a role-model for people of all genders. I want to be like Tina Belcher.
In some ways I was like her. I can remember being eight years old and being sent to a psychologist after being caught sitting in my closet chanting “life is a ball of dirt”. After a session talking about why I might be saying that, I remember very clearly the psych’s instructions to return to school, watch what the most popular boy did, and take notes about it. When I returned we discussed ways that I could change my personality to be more like him, a tall kid on the basketball team called Jeff.
Even then I knew that this was all wrong. It was offensive and I wouldn’t do it. So what if the kids picked me last for the team, called me queer, and wouldn’t eat lunch with me? I didn’t want to be Jeff. I was mostly brave enough to be myself, but unlike Tina, I couldn’t take it that step further and also like myself.
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