Why Sabrina The Teenage Witch Is The Feminist Icon We All Need
Betty, Germaine, Gloria, Sabrina.
In university I took a Women’s Studies class. One lecture was about the portrayal of women in film, how Hollywood has a tendency to use female characters as accessories to men rather than representing us as complex people who are fascinating in our own right. Our professor asked us to think back to our childhoods, if there were any strong role models who broke this mould. Straight away, about ten of us shouted out “SABRINA!” and I immediately thought of this iconic ep, Now You See Her, Now You Don’t.
Sabrina and her BF Harvey are nominated for King and Queen at the Snowflake Ball. Even though she had previously dismissed it as a popularity contest, she kind of liked the idea of winning. She also liked the idea of buying a cute new outfit for the occasion. She goes shopping in the Other Realm to find the perfect dress and finds a contender, except it’s one size too small. Solution? Diet!
A crash diet. Blubber Be Gone meal replacement shakes. They work, at first. She loses weight but feels erratic and hangry. And even though now she’s thinner, she’s less self confident than before. Until one day she turns invisible. Just vanishes into thin air. Her body-less soul is frantically wandering around Westbridge High when she overhears her classmates discussing who they voted for King and Queen – her and Harvey! But not because of what she looks like, because they like her as a person. Level-headed, down to earth, doesn’t follow the pack. Not a word about her body.
AHA MOMENT! People like her because she doesn’t usually do things like this! There’s more to me than what I look like! The moment she gets real with where her value lies – boom back comes her body! Smokin hot at any size!
I was never the same again. Years later, when I was working as an English language teacher I practically developed an entire curriculum of video lessons based on Sabrina The Teenage Witch for my young girl students, in the hope that they too would see the light.
Thank you Sabrina for showing us that beauty lies within, and crash diets never work.
You can watch the episode here, even though I’ve just spoiled most of it for you.