Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Weird Girls

As usual, I've been vaguely outlining and composing this post in my head for a few weeks. Now seems the perfect time for several reasons, the most prominent of which is the newest issue of Lula magazine (which we, of course, don't have access to just yet. Its oozing onto various blogs and such slowly, subversively, and making me pouty and jealous) and it's article with all those gothy little illustrations of our favorite heroines. Add to that the impending twitches of inklings of Halloween costumes and it would be unnatural of me to hold this kind of thing in any longer.

We, or at the very least I (but I know I am not alone in this), are fascinated and jealous, inspired and in deep meaningful love with Weird Girls. They're our fictional bosom buddies, different from fictional boyfriends (I have lots of literary fictional boyfriends—that is, literary crushes—I am a fictional slut) and in many ways better because we don't particularly care that they don't exist. There is always something about them, and like the literary 1920s heroines in my most recent essay-ish post, we're inexplicably preoccupied by what the wear and their strange mannerisms. More important are their strange quirks that instead of being just plain weird, are charming and original and drive us to form our own strange mannerisms, habits, and penchants. We know that is best to let these things come naturally, as it so often does for them, but all the same I can't deny my own habits for attempting to adopt those silly quirks and things for myself.

I somehow had a harder time coming up with a fair number of Weird Girls that either haven't already covered in some capacity or who satisfied me enough with the personality and aesthetic I had dreamed up. By definition of course I shouldn't be able to come up with lists and lists of them, but I'm a bit particular really. She's got to be sullen, so it helps to have those outsider somewhat antisocial tendencies, usually some kind of depressive that hipsters can't help but fawn over, the spawn of Franny Glass type deals. This led me to eliminate such heroines full of fairy tale whimsy such as Alice Liddel and Madeline, although I can't explain exactly what sort of thing they were missing that made me ostracise them so!

The two most obvious to me are Margot Tenenbaum and Wednesday Addams (who are of course feature in Lula, I swear I had these thoughts before!). Both undeniably sullen and pouty, with instantly recognizable aesthetics. Wes Anderson movies, I have notice, seem to cater especially to this kind of thing, reaching into such bits as Natalie Portman's character in Hotel Chevalier. Which, at that thought, brings me to one I hadn't thought of: the wonderfully if somewhat cliché Sam in Garden State. But, I digress (I blatantly ignore proper use of this word! How scandalous!). I've long considered trying to wear a fur coat normally, and you've witnessed my attempts to bring penny loafers out of my high school uniform experiences and into real life a la Margot. I think at one point I attempted to find one of those bulky portable TV sets, which sadly won't work anymore after a while, and did adopt my own habit of soaking in the tub for ages and ages (before I broke the faucet and killed that leisurely activity).

"I can't even begin to think about knowing how to answer that question."

"She was known for her extreme secrecy. For example, none of the Tenenbaums knew she was a smoker, which she had been since the age of 12. Nor were they aware of her first marriage and divorce to a recording artist in Jamaica. She kept a private studio in Mockingbird heights under the name 'Helen Scott'. She had not completed a play in seven years."
-The Royal Tenenbaums

Wednesday harkens back to me childhood a little bit more, and tends to cater to that somewhat vaguely goth aesthetic (similarly shared by Emily the Strange who, I do admit, I have a certain lingering fondness for). As fictional characters they can carry these strong looks effortlessly, be these funny strange girls on the page and on film with their missing fingers and decapitated dolls.

"I'm a homicidal maniac, they look just like everyone else. "

Then, there are girls like Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with all that colored hair and the orange hoodie (I searched high and low until I found one like it!) and weird conglomerations of outfits. She's not particularly nice, but I can't help but be drawn to her, and the personality that 'promises to take you out of the ordinary'. Maybe it's just because I always wanted, at some secret level, to have insanely colored hair. But there is something about her, just like in all of them, in her manner of speaking and thoughts and ideas that is deeply appealing to me.

"I'm sorry I came off kinda nutso. I'm not, really."

There are always more! The Francesca Lia Block girls, Weetzie Bat and Witch Baby especially, who I've admitted are a part of this fascination with weird individuality. Annie Hall of course, might be one of the originals, although lacking the bordering-on-sinister attitude but afflicted with strange hand movements, manners of speech, and signature items of clothing setting the way for those polo dresses, middle-parted braids, funny turns-of-phrase I attempt to capture.

I am fascinated by them. I can't help but create them, little character sketches of me own in journals and heads, these quirks are overwhelmingly important and I also stretch to create them in myself. Weird little habits I try to not only cultivate, but to notice those that are genuine to my personality. It goes in hand with the constant attempts those of us blogging and w_r-ing to find our own personal style. I am fascinated by weird girls, I so badly want to be one of them, and at points I think I succeed! Without getting too terribly sappy and candid, it is one of the reasons I first hung out around my current boyfriend so much: that I felt not only like the best version of myself, but the version of myself I had tried so hard to cultivate, who was strange and charming and above all, weird weird to the core (but always in an endearing sort of way). It's part of why I have certain items of clothing (one day I will illustrate them all for you) that I pick out and wear only because they remind me of this or that fictional person or Weird girl: the Sabina bowler hat, the Professor Lupin sweater, Annie Hall pants. And the thing is, I am so not the only one! There is, I think undeniably, something particular about the Weird girls as opposed to boys and so I think they are created more. Maybe I just notice it more, but heck, it's why Juno was such a big movie, and why characters like the Weird girl keep popping up all over the place, because I am convinced she is the kind of girl we all want to be and that someone wants to know.


  1. I really wish i could find the Lula magazine here - alot of the blogs i read about talk about it and i'm intrigued!!

  2. Margot is definitely my literary, cooler twin self! If I was slightly less conventional and more determinedly unique I would be her...I already have the secretive side down.
    P.S. You just made me painfully aware that I am a literary slut as many fictional boyfriends...

  3. amazing post! i could not agree more, there is something both fascinating and envious about weird girls. sure maybe they wouldn't exactly be our best friends in real life, but they're endlessly fun to watch and imitate. your weirdos are similar to mine- love margot (who doesn't!?), i dressed up as wednesday for halloween once!, sam is fun(ny). or i also like claire in the film "elizabethtown". i love the idea of imitating favorites, the lupin sweater :) once again loved this post

  4. Yes, yes, yes. And I would add to the list Enid from "Ghost World", Jane Lane from "Daria" (how I wish I could have been like her in high school, or at least have had her as a friend), and all the girls from Tanith Lee's "Blood Opera", although I suspect their allure came at least half from the fabulous houses they lived in (I'm just as fascinated by fictional home decor than I am by fictional clothing).

  5. And how could I have forgotten Jo March, with her old attic, her pet rat, her apples and the scribbled pages of her novel? I was so disappointed that she eventually became quite the average wife.

  6. oh yes, i agree every bit! 'the weird the kind of girl we all want to be'.

    i am so in love with your post i cannot even put my thoughts into words.. but what i AM certain of is that, whether consciously or not, the weird girl inspires us all.. and is in us all..

  7. this post is wonderful! you're always so eloquent in your writing.

  8. Marvelous post. I think we can all identify with these unique and weird characters. I loved Gwyneth Paltro as Margot. She was believable and I found myself being able to relate to her at that point in my life. It makes me want to watch it again.

  9. Wow, I stumbled across your blog but have been completely drawn in by this post! You've articulated very well what a lot of us (or at least myself) ponder...
    And I too long for hair that changes colours with my changing mood like Clem.
    You have earned an extra reader here... long live literary sluttism!

  10. Don't forget Emily Dickinson, the witty and poignant recluse!

    (I've been lurking for a while; I guess this is the big reveal.)

  11. You know, this has been bugging me, so I have to say it, you vaguely remind me, physically of Evan Rachel Wood. Ok. I said it.

    *PS, you have a nice blog, tis a good read...well written.

  12. Such a lovely, perfect, quirky post. I would have to add some of the 1920's, Parisian lady artists to your list of weird girls: Romaine Brooks, Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, etc.

  13. what a fantastic post. the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind always made me very uncomfortable because kate's character always reminded me of all the things i didn't like about myself. i like that there is something insecure and/or morose about the girls you chose. way to champion crazy girls... we thanks you. : )

  14. Lovely post. My new novel (still working on it!) features just such a Weird Girl I think. I was wondering who my audience might be for this novel, as she's going to alienate some of the people who read my first novel for the lovely (ok, somewhat violent) historical story - now I think I know!

    I would describe her to you but I don't want to jinx it!

  15. Oh yes, and you can probably add Emily Bronte to the lis as well. :-)

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  17. This is the first post of yours that I've stumbled onto, but I think I'm in love!
    I'll be back for more!