tina_belcherBadass Femmes is a bi-weekly column written by So from So’s Reel Thoughts about all the Badass Females in pop culture that shaped her life.

It was 2011, the year I was set to graduate from college with a measly B.A. in Film Criticism. Was I even going to find a job? How many internships would I have to do? How was I going to become a prominent film critic? As these endless ideas made their vomit-inducing rounds in my head, I did what any normal person would – drown out my thoughts by turning on the TV. It was then that I caught the promo for a new animated show called Bob’s Burgers. With the impending doom of college graduation looming over my head, I decided to tune in that Sunday and watch the very first episode. Needles to say, it didn’t take long for me to become a dedicated servant following the transcendent experience of hearing Tina Belcher’s irreverently bold first words, “My crotch is itchy.” *SwOoOoOn

Did I hear that right? Did I actually hear those words come casually out of an animated cartoon character – a pre-teen, socially awkward, monotone and hopeless romantic named Tina Ruth Belcher?! I was instantly hooked. One of my mottos in life (which I repeat more times than I would like to admit) is, “Better late than never.” Had I had Tina in my life a bit earlier, say middle school, would’ve made me not feel so bad for my boy-crazed, hopelessly romantic fantasy scribblings and dolphin obsession. Seeing Tina’s boy-crazed, erotic friend fiction and horse obsession made me feel like a “normal” socially awkward teenage girl. Though Tina and I differed in terms of composure (I was ultra hyper and perpetually pumped on Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiatos) what I took from her was that it was okay to be different. If anything, she became one of the best kinds of female role models, urging girls all around the world to find solace in being themselves.

Before Bob’s Burgers, I grew up with a different kind of FOX family by the name of, oh you might have heard of them, The Simpsons. The only little lady of Springfield that held my attention was Lisa Simpson. She was radically different from her doofus counterparts – intelligent, pensive and forthright in her opinions about female inequality, animal rights and musical interests. Through that, she encouraged my younger self to be O.K. with being different and outspoken, even in times when I was surrounded by dick/fart gags, or any jokes about the body really. But whereas Lisa excels at being a supremely motivated, preachy and brainy individual, I prefer Tina because she lives, breathes and just is who we should all aspire to be: a smart, strong, sensual woman. Tina is acutely aware of her lack of social abilities but that doesn’t thwart her from passionately pursing Jimmy Jr, expressing her sexual desires or proclaiming witty life truths like “I’m no hero, I put on my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else.” It’s times like these where leading by example leaves a more ever-lasting mark than words could ever accomplish.

You got to hand it to Tina for chasing her dreams (aka Jimmy Jr.) even if she’s been turned down time and time again – it’s already been four seasons and her unrelenting drive puts the pursuit of my middle school heartthrob “Froggy” to shame (I’ve given up after a measly two years of professing my love). Even as a fully grown 4’10, twenty-something adult, Tina has helped me and many girls to take control and confidently be in tuned with our sexuality. The things you can learn from a thirteen-year old these days are far more poignant than what any fifty-year old menopausal woman can teach you (sorry mom). I can go on forever about the greatest benefits of having Tina’s character on mainstream television, making the everyday, awkward teenage girl comically relatable yet never marginalized or stereotyped. Four years since my initial encounter with Tina, I’m somewhat closer to solidifying my voice as a film critic and I don’t worry so much about the future, knowing that I have an unwitting trailblazer like Tina Belcher by my side.


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