When I was young, I loved to play the villain. I was Maleficent, Cat Woman, Cruella de Vil. I gave Snow White the poison apple, and in a Star Wars/Mary Poppins crossover, I was a light saber wielding nanny. In those games I got to be conniving and cruel. I often died dramatically. Now I’m older. I’m not supposed to play dress up anymore, but sometimes I’ll slap on purple lipstick, wear angry-sounding shoes and a disapproving glare because I want to be bad. I want to burn my textbooks and smoke cigarettes. I want to be able to lose control, and take pleasure in doing so.
I was a nice child, for the most part, as long as you weren’t my mother. And truly, I don’t think I’ve changed much. I have always found confrontation uncomfortable and I try to avoid it at all costs. In my day to day life, I’m cordial to my teachers, helpful to my peers and honest with my parents. I smile at babies in the park. I do my homework and play flute in a classical orchestra. But I still love the bad girls in books and movies, although I now find it too tiring to pretend. I know I can’t change, and I’m slowly becoming content with that fact. But I still become infatuated with these types of characters, living vicariously through their scripted lives. I think I love these women because they are so wholly who I am not.
Between the ages of twelve and fourteen, it was characters like;
Margo Roth Spiegelman from Paper Towns and Alaska from Looking for Alaska
Lucy from 13
Amber from Hairspray
I think the fact that three of these characters come from John Green and a Jason Robert Brown musical are very telling about the type of person I really am.
Then when I was a bit older, from probably fourteen to sixteen (and still persisting today, if I’m honest), I fell in love with movies from the 1980s, and these characters became my inspiration;
Heather Chandler and Veronica Sawyer from Heathers
Marla Singer from Fight Club
Even more subtly, girls like;
Claire from The Breakfast Club, because she was complicated and looked cute while giving the middle finger.
Sloane from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
More recently, my inspiration comes from the women I read about in books. Different now, a range of characters who are evil or badass for a host of different reasons because my taste has matured ever so slightly;
Amy Elliot Dunne from Gone Girl
Bonnie Parker from Bonnie and Clyde
Moira from The Handmaid’s Tale
Flannery Culp and Natasha Hyatt from The Basic Eight