It's no secret that I ate, slept, and breathed Sweet Valley High as a preteen. I pretty much always wished I had a twin, wanted my childhood blonde to last forever, and could never decide if I was a Jessica or an Elizabeth. Trying to make myself fit into one of two cookie cutter blonde options may not have been one of the most feminist moments in Sweet Valley High history, but I loved them nonetheless. Thanks to the likes of the Wakefield sisters, I spent my adolescent years waiting for exciting and ridiculous things to happen to me, as they so often happened in Sweet Valley. However much I loved the Wakefield sisters, as an adult I came to realize that the twins are the very definition of a "problematic fave," because while their shallow glitz and glamor may have reeled me in as a kid, feminist moments in Sweet Valley High are few and far between.
But if you search deep, you can find a few feminist moments throughout the series. Mostly due in part to Elizabeth's bookworm and achievement oriented nature, but occasionally, Jess had her feminist moments too. Though the two sisters were at odds for the better portion of the beloved series, every so often, they came together to lift one another up, and lift their friends up, too — who could forget Lila, Maria, and Enid? Though they may be difficult to find, here are seven of the most feminist moments in Sweet Valley High history, to help you reconcile your love for your problematic faves.
1. When Elizabeth Takes On Beauty Pageants
Becoming Miss Teen Sweet Valley was all about looks and popularity for Jessica, but feminist Elizabeth had a different idea about who should with the contest and why. Though the twins clashed over which would make a better Miss Teen Sweet Valley, Elizabeth brought the idea that bookworms can be pageant queens too to young girls everywhere.
2. When Jessica Realizes No Man Is Worth Changing For
When Jessica finally gets exactly what she wants (bad boy Bruce Patman), she starts changing the way she acts and dresses in order to fit in with him. After neglecting her friends, turning on her twin, and ditching cheerleading practice, Jessica finally realizes that changing herself for a man just isn't worth losing all the things she's worked so hard to achieve. Never let a man dismiss your accomplishments, livelihood, and feelings, ladies.
3. When Jessica Goes To Bat For Elizabeth
After Elizabeth goes on a date with a new guy named Kris, who snags her journal to spread rumors about her after she rejects him, Jessica becomes infuriated by the rumors and takes matters into her own hands to restore her twin's good reputation. Proving that even sisters who don't always get along can still lift one another up.
4. When Liz Promotes Body Acceptance
When Robin Wilson wants to join Sweet Valley High sorority Pi Beta Alpha, Jessica and her conniving friends do everything they can to keep her out — because she's chubby. Elizabeth nominates Robin, and does everything she can to get her in, to prove to the girls that looks and size aren't what matters most.
5. When Two Friends Go Head To Head
Elizabeth is excited when childhood best friend Amy Sutton moves back to town,but Amy and Enid, Elizabeth's current best friend, don't get along. When Amy becomes close friends with Jessica, Elizabeth makes one of her hardest decisions yet, remaining friends with Enid, who never made Elizabeth feel like she had to choose between friends.
6. When Elizabeth Reminds Jess That Changing To Meet Society's Ideals Is A Drag
Frustrated with being mistaken for her twin, Jessica aspires to a darker, more sophisticated image, and dyes her hair black while pursuing a modeling career as Jessa Fields. Elizabeth is afraid she's losing her best friend, and doesn't want to see Jess lose herself for the sake of modeling, and trying to prove herself to the world. With the help of Elizabeth, Jess comes back to herself, realizing that being yourself is the only remedy for the pressure and expectation society puts upon young women.
7. When Jessica Proves That Girls Can Do Anything Boys Can Do
When Bruce decides to start a secret men-only club, "Club X," Jessica is infuriated by his chauvinistic declaration, and decides to prove that girls are just as tough as boys — if not tougher. The hijinks that follow are ones that could only happen in Sweet Valley, but they teach Bruce a lesson that women are just as capable as men at anything, and everything.