Culture.

  • Sat, 15, Sep, 2018 - 5:00:AM

A love letter to The Baby-Sitters Club

The Baby-Sitters Club Trailer / Melanie Mayron / YouTube

Dear Kristy, Mary-Anne, Claudia, Stacey, Dawn, Mallory, and Jessi – by way of Ann M. Martin,

Hello girls.

I say girls and not women because I imagine you all as perpetual pre-teens (except for you Ann, but I’ll get to you).

I’m writing from New Zealand. A world away from Stoneybrook Connecticut, and yet… in my mind, the two are intrinsically linked. I grew up nose-deep in your town. Nose-deep in your club’s exploits. And though it may have taken some time to recognise the profound influence you had on me as a young bookworm, I’m finally writing to thank you.

Kristy – obviously I must begin with you. You were probably the first female president I ever heard of. The original girlboss. (Although I can’t imagine you embracing that term. You would just call yourself a boss.)

I was what they called a girly-girl back in the day, as well as being cripplingly shy, so your tomboyish over-confidence was almost an entirely foreign concept. But as time has gone on, and as I’ve seen the way female characters are portrayed in films, and books, and in the media, I’m beginning to appreciate what a revelation your tomboyish leadership was. And if it weren’t for your great idea there wouldn’t have been a Baby-Sitters Club to begin with. Thanks for always being you.

Mary-Anne. You and I were most alike, even if I pretended to be much more of a Claudia or Stacey. We were both shy bookworms, although you were much more organised than I. Thanks for keeping everything running.

Claudia! Look, don’t tell the others but you were my favourite. One of the highlights of the entire series was visualising your avant-garde seventh-grade attire (even if I didn’t know what seventh-grade meant in New Zealand terms). If I met you today, I’d scream yaaassss kweeen at your feet (sorry). I appreciate that you defied the stereotypes thrown your way by embracing art and fashion, over science and maths. I know how hard that was for you, as a Japanese-American, with a genius older sister. You taught me that racial prejudice is much more nuanced than simply hating someone because of their skin colour. I hope you’re out there somewhere killing it. I hope your art is hanging in The Met. And I hope you’re being credited as the fashion influencer you are.

Stacey! Look, don’t tell Claudia but you were my actual fave. I appreciate that you were a girly girl like me, and that it was never used to degrade you or make you out to be less serious than the non-girlies. You were actually so intelligent they made you the treasurer! I appreciate that when everyone was (subconsciously) telling me Maths was a ‘boys subject’ you were there, a young New York sophisticate, leading the Mathletes to victory.

Dawn – as a hipster environmentalist you were truly ahead of your time. I didn’t give you enough credit when I was a kid, but you were super cool. Who cares about the environment that much at age 13?! You did, and we need that sort of passion more than ever these days. When I pass on my BSC novels to the young folk in my life, I sort-of hope it is you they will look up to the most.

Mallory, the long-suffering eldest of eight. I hope you laughed when the ‘ugly’ clothes your parents forced you to wear became the height of hipster-chic.

Jessi, the sole African American girl, who danced instead of walked, and dreamed of being a ballerina. I truly hope you made it.

And Ann, it is you I must thank most of all. The Baby-Sitters Club was, after all, your great idea. Without it, I may not have developed my early love of books. Thank you for creating these wonderful ambitious, organised, and intelligent girls. Thank you for having them pass The Bechdel Test – easily and on just about every page. Thank you for teaching me about girl friendship, and girl entrepreneurship, and race, and rivalry, and diabetes (truly!). Stoneybrook Connecticut may never have actually existed, but the legacy of The Baby-Sitters Club lives on in the hearts of an entire generation of readers.  

Sincerely,

One of them. 

TAGGED IN

  • Books /
  • Childhood /
  • Literature /
  • Girl Power /
  • Writers /
  • Reading /
  • The Baby-Sitters Club /
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