Editorials

Six Female Characters Who Made Me the Nerd I Am Today

Top Six Fictional Geek Girls

Growing up, my imagination was fueled by my never-ending love for books. It didn’t matter what the book, I had to have it. I was often seen leaving the library with far more than my skinny arms could carry. I was an advanced reader from the beginning and my mother always pushed me to indulge in stories that challenged my mind and my female ideals. It was because of her that I met some of my first literary heroes. As I always wanted to picture myself in the shoes of the protagonists, I often chose books with strong female characters that I could emulate long after I reached the book’s end.

As I grew older, I delved into more comics, and from there I naturally progressed to watching the shows and movies that accompanied them. I am thankful to have grown up in an era when women were becoming more common in strong leading roles, where they could fight alongside their male counterparts without becoming overshadowed by them. Today, we have so many great role models to choose from, but looking back on my childhood, these were by far the ones most memorable in my mind, that helped form me into the proud nerd I am today.

Judy Blume - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Judy Blume – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Margaret Simon

For the longest time, Judy Blume was by far my favorite author due to two works: the Fudge series and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Margaret was just like me. She was trying to figure out how the world worked and with every fault and every blunder, I was encouraged. Margaret showed me that you didn’t have to be perfect and that it was okay to make mistakes. I was the oldest of five children and sometimes I felt overwhelmed by the need to be perfect. When I read that book, I felt like I had a friend who I could root for and who understood, at least a little bit, what my pre-teen-self was going through.

Matilda Wormwood

Roald Dahl - Matilda
Roald Dahl – Matilda

I cannot count how many times I burrowed under the covers to spend time with my favorite bookworm, Matilda. She was an exceptionally smart young girl whose incredible mind allowed her to levitate people and things on command. While I had no chance at achieving the same feats, I always had a soft spot for bookworm heroines. Just like Matilda, I lived each day in search of a new book to fall in love with. I was equally excited when I first watched the film adaption of the book (though you have to admit, it was Danny DeVito who stole the show), and to this day that movie remains one of my go-to rainy day films.

Hermione Granger & Professor McGonagall

While I was late to the Harry Potter game, I consider myself a huge fan of Hermione Granger. Though she is an obvious crowd favorite, she resonated with me on a deep level. Always the smart but awkward kid in school, I never really knew the right words to say. I never had that many friends but the ones I had were precious to me. I referred to books for everything and spent most of my lunch periods in the library. When I read Harry Potter for the first time I fell in love with her character and was encouraged by her strength and unapologetic intelligence. She helped me realize that I didn’t need to apologize for not being as social as the other kids and to cherish my friends who accepted my flaws.

Prof. McGonagall and Hermione Granger by Jim Kay Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Prof. McGonagall and Hermione Granger, Pottermore

Speaking of Harry Potter, Professor McGonagall always seemed an extremely underrated character in my mind. She was the teacher I always wanted. She was strict, but fair and encouraged her students to try things out for themselves. When she defended Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts, I got so emotional I actually cried. If there is anyone you should aim to be when you are older, she’s certainly my first choice.

Kim Possible

Disney's Kim Possible
Disney’s Kim Possible

Back when Disney Channel was still good, Kim Possible was my go-to show. There was nothing not to like about it. The writing was stellar, the characters were solid, and the action was nothing short of amazing. Kim was every young girl’s idol with her quick thinking and even quicker moves. She was a naturally strong character but had enough struggles that she was not unachievable. Even her mom, Dr. Ann Stoppable, was an amazing role model being a neurosurgeon who managed to juggle work and family just as well as her equally brilliant husband. Having learned recently of the new movie coming out, I hope they can do justice to my childhood hero.

Princess/General Leia Organa

While my mother encouraged me to read, it was my father who made me into the nerd I am today. He was the one who gave me my first comic book, Betty and Veronica Volume 7. This one book was the beginning of a massive comic book collection that still grows today. My dad is still the biggest nerd I know and made sure to share that love with all his kids. It was because of him that I came to love Star Wars where I met my first live heroine, Princess Leia.

General Leia Organa - c Disney
General Leia Organa – Disney

She was a strong woman whose confidence all but oozed on the silver screen. She was graceful, smart, and tough all at the same time and was always so sure of herself. Carrie Fisher showed the world that getting older was nothing to be afraid of. In my own personal opinion, I found her to be so much sexier as General Leia than she ever was as a princess. Losing her was like a dagger to my heart and I still mourn the amazing woman that touched my young life.

There are so many fictional women who touched my life growing up. Today, strong female leads are even more common than they were ten or twenty years ago. I hope that when I have a daughter I will have the chance to share with her the characters that touched my life and helped form me into the woman I am today, though I look forward even more to knowing that there will be no limit to the number of role models for her to choose from.


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About the author

Michaela Johnson

Michaela Johnson lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband, Jared, their puppy, Groot, and two large water turtles named Linus and Lucy. She enjoys reading whatever she can get her hands on and watching any super hero film she can get tickets to. Michaela has been reading comics since she was a child and hopes to one day write her own.