While I am being self-deprecating as an adult that has long since checked their privilege and gained much-needed perspective, I cannot deny that little emo (punk, actually, but the angst was, indeed, a little more emo) Colette had her trying moments. Teenaged wasn't a good look on me. Education felt stifling and unchallenging, the boys in my class often seemed to have a personal vendetta against me, I was an awkward lump that desperately wished I was pretty and it regularly seemed as if none of my peers cared about the same things as me.
I remember first watching Buffy as a young child when it originally aired and being so terrified by that hospital episode that I couldn't watch it again for years. At twelve, I rediscovered it and my new guy best friend and I shared a serious crush on the titular character. By sixteen, I was reading the scripts, watching the episodes over and over, and was seeking out novel-length fanfictions set in alternate universes, tracing Spike's life from his origins as a mild-mannered Victorian poet to the swaggering punk that Buffy fell in love with. Distraction has been long since the tool by which I survive the swirl of my thoughts when they become overly intense and no world - fictional or otherwise - was ever so distracting as the Buffyverse.
More than comfort and distraction, however, BTVS was a safe space. It was a distant place of adventure and fantasy but was also somewhere that the familiar things that I thought about and ideas I was struggling to navigate as I grew up, were tackled with grace, humour and humanity. And, of course, I had female characters that were complex, flawed, wonderful and in control of their own agency to look up to - characters that really haven't appeared that often in the two decades since - in spite of supposed progress. I always attribute the cementing of my feminism to Buffy and, in this regard, the show has changed my life unlike any other single work of art ever has.
Though I didn't think it possible, the show changed my life once again in 2012. It was my third year of college and I happened to finish my exams weeks before my friends because of the particular modules I had chosen. As they studied, I sat alongside them in the library whining. They told me to enjoy the sunny weather but this was before I knew how to go out and enjoy the wider world on my own. So, I sat. I pouted. I read. I read about things I'd never read about before. And I ended up reading academic texts about Buffy. And reading blogs. Lots of blogs. Fashion blogs. I thought, "I can do this too", so I did. I thought, "Why has no one discussed the banging style in Buffy?", so I did it myself. And, with a post on the style in BTVS, Wide-Eyed and Blind was born.
Buffy has taken me from the birth of ideas and ideals that would define the woman I became to a choice born of boredom that has introduced me to friends I would never have otherwise met, made me pursue the career I would have otherwise been too scared to try for, helped me become a fashion editor before the age of thirty, allowed me to sit front row at fashion week and taught me to be alone, be strong and brave enough to swallow my fears long enough to explore the world.
I, honestly, cannot tell you where I would be had BTVS not been in my life. Probably not where I am today. Probably a little more lost and a little less comforted. I actually don't know how to express my gratitude to the show and all involved in its production, something that is difficult for a writer to admit to, but I am grateful, in a vast, intense way.
Happy 20th birthday, Buffy. Thank you for everything you have given me, the lessons you have taught me, the nights you kept me company and the style inspo that you have imparted. I am genuinely a better person because of you.
Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?
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