Have you been to the cinema to see the most recent adaptation of “Little Women”? Were you a big fan of the ‘94 version? Did you see yourself in one of the sisters or in the older characters or perhaps…even Laurie? Well my friend, you are not alone. When I was very young, maybe not even 10, I remember seeing “Little Women” for the first time. My mom who read the book when she was young absolutely loved it and wanted me to see the film to share it with her. I, as it turns out, was about to fall in love with it too. Though perhaps more than anything with one character in particular: Jo March.
My younger self, watching the film couldn’t believe seeing a character who resembles little “me” so much, and could actually be alive on screen. Jo March is creative, stubborn, awkward, a writer, a tomboy, a dreamer, an actress, a loner. She loves her independence yet she craves for companionship. She’s passionate, forward thinking and born out of her time. It was only when I saw the film when I was much older that I realised that she is also a gender fluid character, even her name “Jo” can also be a boys name (like myself, I also have a boys name as my main name) and that was another thing that attracted me to her. She did not lived by the rules and confinements of what a “girl should be like”. If Jo was born now she would love Star Wars and My Little Pony. She would want to be Elsa but also by seeing herself in Kristoff. This helped me a lot to understand that it was okay for me to like things that weren’t aimed for girls and also that if you like girly things it’s okay too.
The story has moments that show these themes but there’s one that really gets me every time. When Jo comes home and shows her sisters that she cut off her long hair in order to get some money for the family then later she is crying on the stairs about losing her beautiful long hair. You might think “Why is she crying? Isn’t she a tomboy? Shouldn’t she be happy that she looks like a boy now?” and the answer is: No. It’s almost as if her choice to be one thing or the other has been taken from her. Sometimes, she does wanna feel like a girl. This scene is so powerful and so meaningful.
The biggest lesson from Jo March is that you don’t have to be one thing or the other. You don’t need to put yourself in one box when in reality it’s more like a jump between trampolines. It’s okay to be girly one day and tomboy the next. It’s okay to want to be your own person and independent but also wanting a companion/marriage. Boxes are made for products and for cats to sleep in, not people.