If you haven’t watched She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on Netflix yet, you are missing out. As a fan of the original show back in the 1980s, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and what I got blew my mind.
In honor of International Women’s Day, the cast of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, including Aimee Carrero (Adora/She-Ra), Lauren Ash (Scorpia), Marcus Scribner (Bow), Karen Fukuhara (Glimmer), Merit Leighton (Frosta), Krystal Joy Brown (Netossa) and executive producer Noelle Stevenson, have released a video talking about the show’s positive portrayals of women and girls and what it means to them. I can certainly tell you what it means to me.
As a kid, every woman I saw on TV was perfect. They looked like Barbie. They all wore outfits that would be insane to fight in. Seriously, who would fight in a bathing suit? Armor that has rounded cups for breast holes would actually kill you if you fell down. This sort of thing drove me crazy as a kid. Yeah, I was all about feminism back then as well. I didn’t know what to call it. I just knew that it didn’t make sense, and the girls I knew weren’t that dumb. They weren’t that perfect either. They were human. What we saw was a difficult standard to live up to when no human can look that way. Sure, every artist has a style and the draw idealized versions of people, but when men were drawn, they were drawn strong. Women were drawn sexy, as if that is the one power we have. It also had to be either effortless, where the woman has no idea that she’s sexy and is confused when anyone says it, or she uses that power for the evil manipulation of men.
The original She-Ra series was a little different, and we actually saw women who were more fully formed as people. There was still that Madonna/whore complex, but it wasn’t as pronounced as it usually was. It’s why I connected with it. Still, looking back and rewatching, it doesn’t hold up.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, however, was a revelation. In the show, we have a younger version of Adora. She’s strong, she’s funny, she’s complicated and her bestie is a cat woman who sleeps at her feet at night. See? Right away our heroine is defined by female friendships rather than by a love story or her relationship to men. Adora is wearing pants. Pants! You know, with two legs that make it easier to fight. She’s also not the ‘90s version of a female superhero; a woman who has no emotion and is only a killing machine… who is sexy, of course. Adora might be on the wrong side, but she’s got morals and a code of conduct. She’s also a teenager who is acting out in a normal way with her friends. Just the main character alone is beautiful and sadly, unusual. Oh, and when she turns into She-Ra, she’s an eight-foot young woman, not a super-sexy chick for guys to gush over. (The certainly complained enough online about how she wasn’t sexy enough when the character design was released.)
Once Adora teams up with the Princesses and her friends, the world explodes. Well, it seems like it. Every stereotype is turned on its head. The “oh my gawd” Princess is extremely intelligent and caring. The STEM girl is quirky and smart, but not at all what you’d expect. Glimmer deals with self-esteem issues, but they don’t define her entire character. There are relationships of every kind. Platonic, heterosexual, homosexual (and no one puts a fine point on it to make it a token – it’s just there like any other), parental, friendly… it’s so different from anything else I’ve seen.
You feel good when you watch this show. You feel like you are on screen, and so are your friends. Beyond that, the storytelling is just phenomenal. If this helps, I watched the first two episodes for a last minute interview a while back, and as soon as we hung up the phone, I went back and blew off the rest of my day to marathon the entire season.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is what we need right now. It’s hopeful. It’s beautiful. It shows women and girls of all types, and the world is better for it. Check out the video and share your love with the hashtag #BalanceForBetter on International Women’s Day. You can also find International Women’s Day resources for the series by clicking here.