Those of you who know me personally have heard me do a lot of complaining recently about artifacts of my childhood, like Rainbow Brite and the Lisa Frank line, being sexualized in order to appeal to today's preteens, raised as they were on Bratz dolls and kiddie thongs. Well, there's one update that I just can't abide, the bendy straw that breaks the pink, sparkly camel's back, and that's the Sweet Valley High reissues.
I, like many women my age, devoured the books, dreaming of a high-school experience filled with convertibles and love triangles. I always knew I was more of an Elizabeth than a Jessica (the former edited the school paper; the latter spent more time chasing boys), and even then I knew there was a bit of a madonna/whore thing going on, but the books were fun and silly and age appropriate. To this day, I still think of The Unicorns (SVH's popular girls, "school royalty") whenever I see a young woman in purple!
They've already been discussed and decried in feminist circles, with former fans citing outrage that Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, the novel's protagonists who were once "perfect size sixes" now being "perfect size fours." I agree that the focus on body image and the ever-shrinking perfect teen is certainly alarming, but it seems there might be vindication for SVH fans on the horizon.
Diablo Cody, known for her work on Juno and Jennifer's Body, which I've discussed on this blog, has been tapped to write a film version. She's been quoted describing the film as "the madonna and the whore, running around," and that makes me a little excited, like maybe she can come up with something that gets around all the posturing and the body image nonsense. I dig Cody's quirky lexicon, and I see it as akin to the way girls that I age speak to one another. My friends and I had our own code words; I think that resonates. Needless to say, not everyone is a fan of the project. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what happens, though.