Friday, August 12, 2011

90's Character Appreciation Post: Topanga Lawrence

Growing up, Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World was everything I wanted to be- blonde, cute, sassy and a hippie. (I didn't really know what a hippie was, but I was into it regardless.) Plus she knew how to rock a weird ass name like it was her job. Being stuck with a name like Carmen Quinonez as a fifth grader isn't exactly easy. I got a lot of Cartman/South Park jokes and a buttload of "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?" sing alongs. I was especially hurt by the Carmen San Diego comments. Like, for whatever reason being compared to her was tantamount to death. In later years, it was Carmen Electra, but then I just knew the guys were trying to get in my pants. To no avail... Topanga is a great example of a 90s TV character who was actually a quality role model for us kiddos. Let us start at the beginning....

The earlier years of Boy Meets World showed Topanga as a weirdo hippie who drew lipstick on her face for a class project. Who does that in real life and doesn't get made fun of? No one. But on TV, it makes her interesting and cool. Her character showed girls that you can be who you are, even if it's weird... or hell, especially when if it's weird. I have a distinct memory of wanting to be weirder because Topanga was weird. Little did I know I'd turn out to be a psycho lunatic who inappropriately refers to boys she's never met as her boyfriends and collects McDonalds toys. I've got weird on lock down.

As she grew up, Topanga became a total babe. This is when I totally realized that I was less of a Topanga.... more of a... well... more of a character that just didn't exist on BMW. But that's ok. I've made peace with it. You should too. See, Topanga was the kind of gorgeous that's, like, insane to even compare yourself to... Like you can't look her directly in the eyes pretty. But the bitch didn't stop there. She was also mad smart. As much as I would like to bash her for being both beautiful and smart, the truth is there are a lot of women out there that fall under this category. They're the lucky ones. (Otherwise known as the girls I spread rumors about behind their backs. DID YOU HEAR- Becky totally has a third nipple!!!! GROSS!) You don't have to be one or the other, smart or pretty- but you also don't have to be both! One of my favorite episodes is the one where Topanga cuts off all of her hair to prove to Corey that he loves her for who she is, not because she's beautiful. It semi-backfires when she realizes she's used to being the pretty one, and her hair is a big part of that. After a stop at the beauty salon, Topanga ends up even prettier than she was in the beginning so it all worked out. But the message wasn't lost. Everyone likes to feel pretty, but personality is what makes you you. Brains are important, and are way more important than a hairstyle.

Even later in the series, we saw Topanga turn down Yale to stay and go to Pennbrook with Cory and co. As much as I can't at all identify with the feeling of choosing a boy over an opportunity for your future, I can understand the decision from another angle. There isn't one path to success or happiness. There isn't one definition of either word. Yale (or any fancy schmancy school) isn't the one way to achieve a level of success. I consider my Mom to be extremely successful because she has raised three kids and has a wonderful family that loves her. The fact that she didn't go to an Ivy League college, or run her own high power company doesn't mean she isn't happy or isn't fulfilled in her life. Topanga married the love of her life. (Yep, I'm getting serious about fictional characters here. THEY'RE REAL IN MY HEAD!) And to me, that makes her a huge success. Yale or not.

I love Topanga because she was truly a great role model to look up to as a child. I always wanted to be her, blonde hair and all. So here's to you, Topanga. Thanks for teaching us girls that it's ok to be smart and weird, and it's ok to find happiness on your own terms.
images: 1, 2, 3

1 comment:

  1. i know i am comment overload... but i love comments on my blog so i thought you might appreciate the same. and i just love your blog!!! but anyways, danielle fischel (is that her last name) actually goes to my school! i was in the computer lab one day and i looked over and there she was!


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