As a kid, I never struggled with self-image, but I always struggled with the idea that some things are “boy things” and others are “girl things.” Obviously, we live and we learn, and we know this isn’t true, but Kid Me didn’t get it. Kid Me had to live with certain expectations and was limited to certain sports and activities up until I got into high school, at which point I got to explore what I liked. Kid Me had to wear a skirt to school and endure ballet lessons. Teen Me “rebelled” with pants, karate, and a video game habit. Teen Me read comics and tried as hard as possible to be a Little Miss Tough Girl. I was raised on feminist values by my parents, but I still went through these motions and stages.
Adult Me doesn’t care about any of that any more, though. I wear dresses when I feel like because they’re comfortable, and I wear make-up and jewelry because I look baller in purple lipstick. I play sports when I want, I go to the gym not to lose weight or trim down, but to bulk up because I want to be strong(er). I enjoy hikes and rides on a jet ski, playing with dogs, attending the theater, and Disney sing-alongs. In other words, I could care less about gender norms.
Sailor Jupiter was always my favorite Sailor Scout growing up because I related to her so much (and so wanted to be as courageous and strong as she is). I loved that she liked and wore traditionally girly things but was depicted as a “tomboy.” I loved that she was into gardening and cooking but also basketball. I loved that she called lightning but also was woodsy and stuff. She had awesome powers and a tough-on-the-surface personality I could get behind. She taught me from a young age that I didn’t have to be one or the other – I could be both. I could be neither. I could be everything. Gender doesn’t apply – it’s about having goals and doing what makes you happy.
Most of the other Scouts had admirable traits to my kid sensibilities, too. I liked Sailor Mercury’s palette and gentle sensibilities, but tough-when-needed gumption and tech know-how. I liked Venus’ long hair. As a kid, this was, like, the ultimate sign of femininity. There was this girl in my class with long, to-her-thighs hair, and I always thought she was just 1000% more of a girl than I’d ever be (Adult Me cut her hair short and loves it. Go figure). I admired Neptune and Uranus for their unshakable bond and maturity. I liked Moon for being a goofball. Mars’ fiery personality taught me I can be angry and my pals will still be there for me.
There’s a lot I remember with rosy nostalgia about Sailor Moon and how empowering it was for me as a kid to see a bunch of girls kicking alien butt, even if they had to wear skimpy skirts and shiny tiaras to do it. In a way, that made it kind of better: it reminded me there’s no one way to look when you’re thumping some goons, getting messy, and doing the right thing. But most importantly of all, it taught me that there’s no one way to be a girl. And I’ll always be grateful to Sailor Jupiter for being there on the screen for me when I needed to know that.