It's around this time of year that as I start baking cookies and drinking nogg, I tend to wax nostalgic about childhood, feelings, what inspired me as a littlie, and what made me me in general. You know what I mean, whether it was Mary Lou Retton swathed in nothing but that hideous American flag leotard and her ginormous smile, or reading about wee Laura Ingalls in the Little House books, or seeing Olympia Dukakis in Steel Magnolias, there are things/people/characters that make such a huge impression on us that they become a part of the fibers that make us us.
So I've come up with a list of a few people/characters to share who impacted my wee Jenny-mind more than a religious upbringing or being home-schooled or growing up in the Reagan administration combined!
1. The first person to stir up my as-yet undiscovered feminist ideals:
Oh, Anne, you taught me so much!!!! From you, I learned that no matter how humble my beginnings, even if I was an orphan, or gasp! a girl! with enough imagination and determination I could achieve anything I wanted!* I could go to college! Become a teacher! And get the boy! (Although you may have mislead me a teensy-weensy bit about getting said boy. None of my crushemies seemed to go for my general meanness-- or causing bodily harm to their person. But whatevs!)
*I am referring to the first books only, of course, before Anne and Gilbert had a million kids. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
2. Who set in my mind what was- and wasn't- romantic, or how I discovered what kind of sister I was, and what kind I wanted to be.
The Dashwood sisters
Oh, how I wanted to be like Elinor! And how I realized I was Marianne! Reading Sense and Sensibility at a tender age made me examine my own impetuous nature, and strive to be more thoughtful and selfless, because I didn't want to have to get jilted and catch some phantom sickness out in the rain and constantly turn my ankles before I grew up and realized the Colonel was the right choice all along!*
*It's funny how our perceptions change as we mature. As a young, I sympathized with the Dashwoods to a point of ridiculousness. Now I see them both as really rather whiny...
3. The first lady I thought was sexy
Okay, so I know she's not a YA character, but Laura Petrie played such a big role in my development that I can't leave her out. And okay, so technically, I should be listing Jackie O here, but when I was a kid watching reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show every afternoon, I didn't KNOW Laura Petrie was a Jackie O ripoff. I just knew she was funny and pretty and had great hair and wore the BEST clothes! She formed in my mind what sexy was before I even knew it was sexy. At the time, I just knew I liked the look of her, and that when I grew up, that's the kind of lady I wanted to dress like. (And it's stuck with me to this day. There's nothing that makes me feel more sexy than wearing a nightgown from the 1950's. Have at it, Mr. Freud...)
4. Who helped me realize that smart chicks kick ass
Okay, I know I already used her, but YOU GUYS! It's Anne Freakin' Shirley!
Obviously, we here at FYA LOVE LOVE LOVE to read. We also love to write, and that passion was sparked in me when I read Ms. Hinton's The Outsiders. So, you could conjecture that without her, I wouldn't even be a part of this website! (I would totally have to thank her in an acceptance speech for an award in awesome bloghood. Those exist, right?)
5. Who taught me that adventures weren't just for boys
I read and re-read this book, and wore out my VHS tape of the movie. Sure, she had to dress like a boy to get around, since it was during the Great Depression, but Natty Gann showed me that girls could totes take care of themselves on the road, and have a wolf as their best friend, and travel across the country to find their dad, AND fall in love with John Cusack!
Okay, so that's just the shortlist of my own personal childhood inspirations. What about you? Who made you think? Made you question the establishment? First stirred your own feelings of sexuality? Romance? What authors/characters/etc. made the hugest impact on your child minds?
Please share ALL in the comments, so we can gasp, reminisce, and OMG together!