When I was little a little girl I broke my leg. I had just recovered from two consecutive abdominal surgeries. My very pregnant mother had broken her ribs and I had to get around the house in a wheelchair. I couldn’t go to preschool.
But those are just things I know. What I remember, vividly, is the warm Easter morning when my dad carried me out back and I saw her from across the porch, sitting in the red maple tree where I had broke my leg weeks before. She-Ra. My idol. My hero. In her action figure box with her rhinestone encrusted breastplate.
I was as obsessed with She-ra as kids today are with Elsa. I drew pictures of her. Made up games about her. I cherished my She-ra doll. I remember crying when her rhinestone fell out until my mother glued a silver sequin in its place.
And then she was gone. The show only ran for two years, and I don’t remember noticing when it never came back again. Life goes on. Kids get new obsessions. I don’t remember what mine were after She-Ra, but I know nothing ever lived up to her.
As an adult I recalled her fondly, but also warily. Was she really all I remembered her to be? Or was she, like so many treasured female characters of my youth turned out to be, just some oversexualized side kick for her brother He-Man, the main hero who’s show(s) outlasted hers by decades?
When my children were very young I decided to find out. I was tentative, to be honest. I had built her up so high in my mind, a symbol that had shaped me from a young age to be a fighter, a feminist, a person who strove to achieve on my own merits and not as some impressive prop for a man. Also, I wanted to be careful what I was exposing my children to. There have been many beloved classics of my childhood which, upon adult review, have turned out to be horrifically sexist, racists, and just generally awful. Considering the scant leotards of the female characters in She-ra, I wasn’t optimistic.
But immediately upon starting the first episode, the epic cross over introduction to She-ra, I remembered that He-man basically wore furry underpants and a sword holder. And that’s all. And then Bo, I remembered Bo, well, he had some nice tights, but little else but a pretty heart arrow thingy. (I imagine these have names, but they are rather impractical in the world of real like war garb so I didn’t bother looking them up). The plain old village men aren’t wearing much clothes either. So yeah. In the land of He-man and She-ra, there is an equality of weird 80’s fantasy scant leotards.
And there were more revelations. But I’ve decided to make this topic a couple articles, because as I go along, I keep thinking of more I want to say.