My biggest, longest-lasting girl crush: Winona.
I love crushes. I’m someone who’s prone to obsessions from mild to serious, and crushes just seem to go with the territory. Whether it’s a celebrity or a real person you’re crushing on, you just gotta love that twinkly-hearted, joyful feeling you get. In a special class for me is the Girl Crush, which mainly involves total admiration and imitation. You want to be just like her. I’ve had many girl crushes in my life, and I’m happy to give you a guided chronological tour. Enjoy the ride, people.
1. Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie – Age 4. This was my very first girl crush, as far as I can remember. I mean seriously, who didn’t have a thing for Jeannie? She had awesome hair that wound around her little veiled hat, she wore awesome gauzy pink pants and outfits, and she could go all tiny and poof into her gorgeous glass bottle! I thought she was the prettiest girl in the world, and tried endlessly to braid my hair like she did (I didn’t have nearly enough), poof into my parents’ fancy glass bottles (didn’t work) and blink my eyes and nod to make magic happen (ditto). Didn’t stop me from trying, though.
2. Agnetha Fältskog from Abba – Age 5. Apparently as a kid, I liked the blondes. I don’t even know how many hours I spent staring at the Abba Greatest Hits Volume 2 album cover. I wanted Agnetha’s hair. I wanted her blue eyeshadow. I wanted her white blouse-y neck scarf-y thing. I wanted to be her, singing “Waterloo” all gorgeous like that. My mum was constantly searching for her wooden spoons, which were scattered all over the house having been used by me as lip synch microphones.
3. Janet from Three’s Company – Age 5 to 7. Oooh, that funny, spunky, raven-haired, petite little Janet. Perhaps a pre-cursor to my Winona fascination as a teenager?
4. The “Winter” woman from Color Me Beautiful - Age 8. Any children of the 80s out there remember this book? It took the suburban housewife market by storm in 1980, featuring colour palettes for each complexion and colouring, according to the seasons. I carried my mum’s copy everywhere, and went through a total Color Me Beautiful obsession, deciding what season every single person that I knew was. When I finally started determining if our pet guinea pig was a Winter or Fall, my mum said that maybe we should put Color Me Beautiful away for a while. I was in love with the woman on the main “Winter” page, with her milky white skin, black hair, grey eyes and huge stripes of pink blush on her cheeks (this was 1980, after all). Although with my blonde hair and freckly face I was resoundingly a Summer, I was so determined to somehow be defined as a Winter, just like that beautiful, Snow White Winter woman. *sigh*
5. Lori W. - Age 6 onward. This was the first “real person” girl crush that I remember. Lori was the teenaged daughter of our neighbours across the street, and I was in love the minute I first laid eyes on her. She had a sleek dark brown bob, and cool clothes like tall black pointy boots and black pencil skirts, and purses that looked like patent leather boxes, and she was just so different-looking from everyone in our somewhat scrubby little suburban neighbourhood. Lori could put on just a white t-shirt and jeans and look effortlessly chic. When 12-year-old me attempted to copy that same look, however, I looked like a dork and everyone at school made fun of me. For a while, when I was about 6 or 7, Lori would come over on Saturday mornings and give ballet lessons, to me, my sister Tara and a couple of other neighbour kids in our kitchen. Lori wore the best pink leotard with perfect white tights, beat-up old pink leather slippers with pink satin ribbons lacing them up (be still my beating heart!) and an angora wrap sweater. I also remember her very shapely thighs. I would look down at my skinny little girl legs and hope that one day I would have nice, muscular, skookum thighs like Lori. (Ah, the random thoughts of a 6-year-old.)
6. Marlisse – Age 7 to 12. Marlisse was my mum’s good friend. She was funny, and sweet, and really good at sewing and crafty things, and plus she had the awesomest thick, feathered brown rocker hair ever. I remember saying to my mum that I thought Marlisse was the prettiest lady I had ever seen. I wanted to be exactly like her. I also remember asking Marlisse once how tall she was – she said she was 5’4″, and I remember thinking that I wanted to grow up to be 5’4″… that was my ideal height for a long time (I grew up to be 5’8″… what would little girl me think of that?). Once she told my mum that she thought I was pretty, too, and that was just about the most thrilling thing I’d ever heard in my life. Sadly, Marlisse was killed by a drunk driver about 12 years ago. She’ll always be that fabulous rocker chick that I knew in the 80s.
7. Cyndi Lauper – Age 8 to 10. I listened to She’s So Unusual in my Walkman until the tape wore out. One of my elementary school highlights was dressing up as Cyndi for Halloween in Grade 4, and everyone lining up for my autograph ’cause I looked so much like her. Must have been the orange and green hair spray (I still remember the mildly sweet, baby powder-ish smell of that stuff…)
8. Ecaterina Szabo – Age 9. During the 1984 Olympics I became completely obsessed with gymnastics (I still tune in religiously during each Summer Games). My dad taped all the coverage for me and my sisters and I watched it, over and over (and over) again unti the tape snapped (that was a sad day, let me tell you). I think I could still recite most of the commentary. I fell in love with all the gymnast girls – Mary Lou Retton, Julianne MacNamara, but it was that little Romanian Ecaterina Szabo who stole my heart. So serious she was! First of all, could she have a better name? Second of all, could her curly bangs be any more fabulous? Third of all, her floor exercise could not have been any more awesome! I put tiny little foam curlers in my bangs in an attempt to make them look more Szabo-like, and my mother wisely advised me not to go to school like that. My sisters and I turned our yard into a gymnastics arena, with sawhorses stuck together for balance beams, our swing set for the bars, and a nice patch of grass for the floor ex mat. I always tried to do fluttery hand motions like Ecaterina did at the beginning of her floor exercise. Click on her name (above) to see her in action!
9. Kristen R. - Age 11. Kristen was the prettiest, coolest, most fashionable girl in school. She had catlike hazel eyes and perfectly straight, sandy blonde hair. I used to sit behind her in Grade 5 and try to sit at my desk exactly the same way she did. Unfortunately, in her early twenties Kristen completely wrecked her brain on drugs and then began to suffer terribly from mental illness. She’s in and out hospital now, and I’ve seen her begging on the streets from time to time. Who would have known, back in the day when she and I would do air guitar in the girls’ change room at school, how it would all turn out.
10. Winona Ryder – Age 13 onward. My biggest girl crush of all time. I first saw her in Great Balls of Fire (one of my serious, major obsessions) and immediately fell in love with her little oval face, big brown eyes, ponytail and bangs. Wow! I loved how she talked, I loved her full yet small lips, I loved her clothes. From then on I tracked Winona and all her looks and hairstyles, often going to my hairdresser with a photo of Winona’s latest short hairstyle. I got myself a silver chain and cross after I saw her in Mermaids. Yup, Winona was the coolest.
11. Greta Garbo - Age 15. Now there was a real woman! I watched all her movies, I read all her biographies, I poured over books of photos of her from the library. That sexy accent! That deep voice! Those elegant, large-lidded eyes and sharp cheekbones! I copied her signature and practised making the “G”of my last name just like hers. (I still sign my name G-Garbo style to this day.)
12. Maggie O’Connell from Northern Exposure (played by Janine Turner) – Age 15 to 19. I know my best fried Heather shares this crush! Ah Maggie – she was a pilot with the best short haircut. What a cool, independent woman! Besides, she got to kibbutz with Dr. Fleischman all day long, who I was madly in love with. Lucky, lucky Maggie. While searching for good Maggie photos, I came across Janine Turner’s website, and was horrified to see what she’s become (or was all along, and I just didn’t know) – a right-wing, conservative, Sarah Palin-loving Republican who writes cheesy books about being a single mother, and releases country music CDs with her daughter. Not to mention starring in her very own Christian Yoga DVD, so that you can get a bible reading during your downward dog. Seriously, you have got to check this out (click link above).
Those were all the crushes during my most impressionable ages. There have been some since then, but none as palpable and strong as these ones. Right now I’m really into Laura Calder. The way that woman wields a flan… Anway, I think that some of these girl crushes helped to shape the woman I am today – for the most part (with the notable exception being “Winter” woman), they were all quirky, independent, smart, sassy gals. My kind of women.
Okay girls, who have been some of your girl crushes?
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