Pippi Longstocking with a tiny monkey.

Author, Sian Meades
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Alice in Wonderland illustration.

Alice in Wonderland

Melissa Joan Hart in the 90s.

Melissa Joan Hart.

Childhood heroines who kicked arse


When we were little, our heroines were different. We liked girls with gumption, we liked girls who were fearless. Our heroines didn’t care if they got mud all over their dresses and they didn’t much care about boys either. They were fiercely loyal and they more cared about friendship than anything else. So we’re taking a look at our poster girls before we Blu-Tacked posters to our magnolia student walls, and long before we upgraded to getting things framed professionally. Who kicked arse back in the single digits?

Alice in Wonderland illustration.

Alice in Wonderland


Melissa Joan Hart in the 90s.

Melissa Joan Hart.

If there was ever a girl who made reading feel like the coolest thing ever, it was Matilda Wormwood. She made bookworms feel like they could do anything, and despite the naysayers, that staying in and reading when everyone was outside playing was totally normal. And maybe, if you read enough, maybe you’d also get magical powers. Even though it never happened, we salute Matilda and her book reading.

We still live by this advice:

Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable...


She explained it all. Everything. She’s also the reason you thought little braids and hair jewels were a good idea.

No she was a life guru, really. Really? No way!

Really? No way! Really? No way! Really? No way! Really? No way!


and She-Ra

We don’t want to choose between Thundercats and He-Man, they were both excellent cartoons. If you plonked us down in front of the telly we’d happily watch one after the other for the rest of the day. But Cheetara and She-Ra were our main reasons for watching (the less said about crush on Lion-O the better, ahem). Swishy swords and women with great hair who got their own storylines and fighting scenes rather than being rescued. These ladies ruled and they did it with quippy put-downs to boot.

Cheetara is very wise y’know:

Pride can be a good thing, but pride carried too far is foolishness.

Pippi Longstocking

She had superhuman strength! She could lift a horse with one hand! (Did we all try this with the cat instead? They did not like that.) Pippi Longstocking was feisty and assertive and much more kick-ass than a lot of cartoon characters. In fact, we’d probably be friends with Real Life Pippi now.


Remember the freckles? 

“My dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”

I know it, but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.

Alice in Wonderland

She explored, she got into trouble. She told people off. She may have a pretty blonde in a cute dress who never had a hair out of place, but she also got scrappy and climbed trees and made a bit of a nuisance of herself and we’ll always applaud that.


Seriously, the kid is a genius:

I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

Daria Morgendorffer

While the cartoon humour may have been something of an acquired taste, you can’t argue that a sulky teenager who said exactly was she thinking was refreshing. A cartoon set in a school that wasn’t about kids being perky and happy all the time was quite something. Because, seriously, who are we trying to kid here?

No, really, she’s inspiring:

I hate everybody.

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