I never wanted to be a teen actress in Hollywood. Either you get cast as a princess, a spoiled rich girl, an “ugly duckling” who needs to be transformed, or you’re strong and empowered and you die tragically. In this world that already has huge issues with female role models in real life, the fictional ones we’re given are enough to make the mom of a teenage girl want to scratch her eyes out.
Everywhere I look, there are opportunities for my two girls to be discriminated against, objectified, and made to question their worth. My Mama Bear instinct lights up every time I see girls very neatly placed in pigeon holes, being told they can do anything as long as they follow the rules.
It starts when they are five years old and watching cartoons, “You can be whatever you want! But you should definitely wear this adorable skirt and matching bows in your hair, because that’s so pretty!”
This message doesn’t really change as they get older. Okay, maybe there’s less emphasis on the bows. But really, take a look at teen movies over the past two decades: She’s All That, A Walk To Remember, The DUFF, even The Fault In Our Stars (though I’ll probably get some flack for that). The majority of them feature girls who need to be reminded of their worth by someone else. These kinds of movies just keep on getting made because… that is what society wants out of women. They don’t want messages of women-power getting out.
Don’t believe me? Look at what happened to the Ghostbusters reboot. They put a bunch of women as the heroes, put a man in as eye candy, and every basement-dwelling troll in the country made it their life mission to take it down. And what those trolls have been doing to Leslie Jones is beyond disgusting and far, FAR beyond mere sexism. (I cannot believe I would actually say mere sexism in 2016.) She’s getting racism. Hate. Harassment. Really? What century do people think they’re living in?
What I want to know is: how do we make a real change?
Right as I began to give up all hope of seeing a change in society’s view of women, along comes Kevin Smith, the dad of a teen daughter himself, who clearly agrees that we’re not giving women and girls enough in Hollywood. He made his new film, Yoga Hosers, and he put his very own teen daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, in the lead alongside Hollywood royalty Lily Rose Depp.
But you see, Kevin Smith did more than make the movie so his little girl could be an actress. He created a kick-ass world and used it to tell his own child and her friend that they can do anything they damn well want to. Yoga Hosers is described as being “Clueless meets Gremlins,” but it’s so much more than that: it’s a buddy film for teen girls that has nothing to do with fashion or beauty or being sexy. It has to do with two girls kicking ass and being funny. Like, completely over-the-top and hilarious.
So of course those basement trolls had to come out. I mean, it’s the internet, right? When the trolls came calling, he had his daughter’s back… but I don’t think that his message alone is enough. People like me and you need to back them up too.
The hardest part about being the parent of a teen girl is keeping up the good fight. Teaching them that they’re more than their looks – more than whatever their peers think of them – is a never ending battle. Every single opportunity that I have to provide better role models than this? I’ll take them, thank you.
Kudos to Kevin Smith. The Colleens don’t need to be reminded of their worth. They know that they’re fucking awesome, and they do what needs to be done, with or without anyone else’s help. That, my friends, is the type of movie I want my 15-year-old stepdaughter to go and see. It proves that girls can be funny and strong, that friendship is paramount and we are stronger together. Most importantly, it teaches them that it’s okay for girls to “think outside of the box”… and enjoy being there.
So I’ll be taking my stepdaughter to see Yoga Hosers when it comes out, because it’s smart, with homage after homage to genre films. Because it’s funny, in that typical Kevin Smith style (keep your eyes peeled for all the cameos!). And because it shows girls that sometimes, movie directors are actually trying to make a film with positive role models for teens that are actually relatable, too.