It was the fourth grade, and I was talking to my friend about Harry Potter. Though I have mixed feelings about the series nowadays (and negative ones about its creator); back then, it was everything to me. Not only was it exciting, fun, and charmingly written, but it gave me a common bond with my peers. In fact, some of my friendships revolved solely around the series. This was one of those friendships, but I hadn’t realized it. Right now, we were just talking about our favorite characters. However, I was about to make a mistake.
“My favorite character is Luna,” I announced.
“I don’t really like Luna,” she said, wrinkling her nose.
“Why not?” I asked, incredulous.
“She’s just…I dunno..”
I did. She (along with a lot of my other friends), didn’t like Luna because she was weird. The sad part was that I understood. Weird girls are generally less appreciated. She wore weird clothes such as spectrespecs and a lion hat. She spoke in a singsong voice and was always prattling on about nargles and who knows what else. She was, to put it simply, odd. And yet, those were the very reasons I loved her.
Looking back, I can say that Luna was the first character I really fell in love with. In the past, there were characters like Anne Shirley and Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) who my mom would compare me to or say I looked like, but Luna I discovered all by myself. From the first moment I encountered her, to when I saw her come to life in the films, I always found myself intensely moved by her existence as a character. Never before had I seen a character so willing to be herself, despite how others treated her. I was amazed by this, and worshipped her because of it. I remember underlining her lines in the book, and drawing picture after picture of her to put on my wall. I tried to dress like her, and begged my mom for radish earrings like the ones she wore in the series. Though I knew I liked her and wanted to be her, I didn’t really realize that was because she resonated with me. Like me, she believed in mythical creatures and said things that other people dubbed as “weird” or “out there”. Like me, she often experienced alienation and struggled to connect with her peers. Like me, she was the weird girl.
Of course, Luna was not the only weird girl I’d connect to. Soon after Luna came Petra Andalee of the Blue Balliett books and Claudia Kim of The Baby Sitters Club; both of which shared similar struggles as me with school and friendships. There was Lydia Deetz, of Beetlejuice, who I found during my Hot Topic phase. There was Jess Day and Ilana Wexler, who gave the hope that things would get easier after highschool. More helpful still, were women outside of fiction who I related to on the same level. Women like Florence Welch, Tavi Gevinson, Regine Chassagne and Frida Kahlo, who I knew experienced similar struggles when they were my age before becoming famous. They were especially wonderful, because I was able to watch them not only succeed, but be loved and appreciated for their oddities. However, real or fictional, they had one undeniable thing in common; they got me through my adolescence in a way that no one else did.
Reflecting on these women, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for how they helped me. I’m approaching the end of my teens, and as I’m doing so, I’m coming to realize that I don’t really need these women anymore. Because they helped me find myself, I can say that I know who I am and am starting to thrive as my own person. I know without them, I may not have made it this far. Because of Luna, I found the strength to wear bold pieces of clothing. Because of Regine, I knew it was normal to feel trapped in my hometown. Because of Claudia, I was able to recognize that being bad at math was a normal thing for creative people. Because of Petra, I didn’t feel insecure about carrying a notebook everywhere. So as I draw to the end of my childhood, I guess I just would like to say thank you to everyone who helped me get to this point. Thank you to all the authors and writers who made me feel seen in their work. Thank you especially to the real life weird girls who dared to be their true selves. You all made me feel less alone, and I know I’m not the only one. By merely being themselves and going through struggles, they paved the way for not just me but weird girls everywhere. Girls who constantly faced rejection, alienation, and exclusion on a daily basis for the way they dressed and carried themselves. Girls who would try to find acceptance everywhere and sometimes would still have to deal with lack of connection when they did find it. They represented us, and though they are far from perfect, they are the role models that a young girl needs when she feels that she is the only one of her kind.
The recent release of Tiktok star Addison Rae Easterling’s song Obsessed has been a point of contention on the internet since its surprise release a little more than two weeks ago. The song has already garnered tons of popularity - it’s been played over 5 million plays on Spotify and used more than 100,000 times on Tiktok. Easterling was even invited to perform on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show a few days ago.
The song’s fast popularity is largely due to Easterling’s status as the second most followed person on Tiktok, with more than 79 million followers. Her rise to Tiktok fame began with a viral video of her and her mother Sheri dancing together, and from there, she began amassing followers. She quickly took advantage of her burgeoning platform, dipping her feet into various ventures, including creating music and co-founding her own makeup line, Item Beauty. Many other Tiktokers have done the same, taking advantage of their fame to explore different niches, most of which are normally difficult to break into.
For example, gaining notoriety in the music industry if one is virtually unknown, with no connections, requires an immense amount of passion for music as well as a good amount of talent. Making music as a famous Tiktoker, though, is a whole different story. The unique thing about Tiktokers is their pre-established platform. People like Easterling and Dixie D'amelio already have a very large fan base, so they are guaranteed listeners even before the music is created. This is why the quality of their music doesn’t exactly have to be exceptional. The burden of wowing any listener that may stumble across your music and hooking them in is no longer there because their fame is pretty much a built-in hook already.
As a result of this phenomenon, we get songs like Obsessed or Dixie D'amelio's Be Happy. Both songs have somewhat uninspired lyrics and generic vocals, and though they aren’t unbearable to listen to, they are missing the components that make up a good quality song. Moving into the music industry is difficult, and for that reason, it shouldn’t be done with mediocrity even if one has the resources that Easterling has at her disposal. In my eyes, it is unfair that Easterling, with her absolutely limited music experience is able to perform such an average song on Jimmy Fallon’s show, purely because of her Tiktok fame.
There were other, glaring issues with the show as well. There was a segment where Easterling “teaches” Jimmy Fallon famous Tiktok dances - none of which were even created by her. Most of them were choreographed by Black creators on the app, and all the original creators received was a slight nod in the video description that only shows up if “SHOW MORE” is clicked. A similar issue happened last year when Charli D'amelio received all the credit for Jalaiah Harmon’s Renegade dance.
Here is a list of the talented creators for reference:
Do It Again - tiktok.com/@noahschnapp
Savage Love - tiktok.com/@jazlynebaybee
Corvette Corvette - tiktok.com/@yvnggprince
Laffy Taffy - tiktok.com/@flyboyfu
Savage - tiktok.com/@kekejanjah
Blinding Lights - tiktok.com/@macdaddyz
Up - tiktok.com/@theemyanicole
Fergalicious - tiktok.com/@thegilberttwins
Addison Rae is certainly a great dancer and multitalented, but her debut song is somewhat disappointing.