I can't believe I have never dedicated a blog post to my number one icon; Buffy Summers. The character turned 40 on the 19th January, which also happens to be the anniversary of my Dad passing away. And to me, the fact those dates aligned, is very significant. Buffy has been my symbol of strength for many years of my life, and she grows a year older on one of the days I need her strength the most. I feel so fortunate to have grown up watching Buffy. I was too young to watch the early seasons as they aired, but Mum used to buy me the VHS boxsets from Woolworths as we then watched through them together. I rotated through the characters and which one I wanted to be. I even got my Dad to once make me a wooden stake, only to be then told off when I was trying to sleep with it under my pillow incase of any vampires I might need to slay. I begged Mum to buy me a long leather coat from a catalogue shop (it was a no), but did manage to get a brilliant tennis dress from Matalan similar to one Cordelia once wore. I idolised all the female characters at different points, but of course always came back to Buffy. And over 15 years on from when I first saw the series, she is still my greatest idol. It could be all too easy to overlook the significance a TV show, band, or celebrity can have on your life. But at any age, when you find something you relate to strongly, it can be so impactful. And I believe Buffy is the greatest example of that, especially as every time I re-watch the series, I feel her character growing with me. Her significance in my life has never waned.
I have rewatched the whole series more times then I can count, and the way I look up to her character changes with age. Just a few weeks ago in a counselling session, my counsellor explained that sometimes it is good to have an alter ego that you look to when you are unsure of what to do. You paint them as the person who is strong enough to make decisions you would admire, when your own judgement is foggy. She asked me to name this alter ego, and while you don't have to act in the way they would, it's good to have a frame of reference for how you could hope to manage the daily trials and tribulations. Of course, mine was named Buffy, and made me realise how often I have thought 'what would Buffy do' in various scenarios throughout my adult life. Buffy to me is a symbol of strength, but not without flaws. She falls down over matters of heart sometimes, she is self righteous, she sometimes lacks a sense of humour and fails to listen to advice from those around her. But, she's also a superhero, who can run in heels, which is enough of a criteria for being a superhero in my eyes anyway.
Spoiler alert if you haven't watched it, but in season five, Buffy's mother dies, and not through supernatural causes. I believe Buffy will have been 20 when this happens. That episode, The Body, remains one of the best depictions of what it's like to receive the news of a death that I have ever watched. I hadn't gone through my own loss of a parent when I first watched that episode, but have rewatched it since. It's heart-wrenching, but brings me even closer to Buffy as we watch her muddle through even the hardest battles of life. My question 'what would Buffy do' has been my companion in grief too, the elements of her character that are very human alongside the way she can do a flying kick into a bad guys face, is the perfect balance when looking to her for inspiration and guidance. The way they wrote her character, a superhero who goes through so many very relatable struggles, allows us all to see Buffy within us, and bring out our strongest side in the moments when it feels very impossible to find strength. She's been with me through the most formative years of my life, and will be with me for many, many more.
Happy 40th Buffy Anne Summers. If I ever have a daughter, she will grow up watching you too, no matter how dated the special effects look by then!
Screenshots taken from three of my favourite episodes of the early seasons; The pilot, Welcome To The Hellmouth, When She Was Bad, Lover's Walk, and Something Blue.