If you ask any girl between the ages of 22 and 26 what her favorite Disney Channel Original Movie was growing up, there’s about an 80% chance she’ll say The Cheetah Girls (this is probably a highly inaccurate estimate. Stats aren’t my thing).
While watching the movie as an adult is cringe worthy to say the least – cheesy one liners, gaudy, matching leopard print ensembles, over-the-top plot points, etc. – there are still valuable lessons I learned from watching The Cheetah Girls an unhealthy amount of times during my adolescence that have subconsciously carried over into my adulthood. So what better way to cap off Women’s History Month than by sharing the life lessons Galleria, Chanel, Aqua, and Dorinda taught me!
1. Girl Power is a thing, and it’s cool!
I mean, the lyrics and that delivery! If you’re not tapping into your inner girl power by the end of this, something’s wrong. I actually identify with these lyrics more at the age of twenty-four than I did at nine. This is still an anthem for me!
2. Boys are fun, but don’t let them become a distraction. Better yet, find one who helps you fulfill your destiny.
Galleria and Derek’s relationship was one of the first Disney romances I was truly invested in. Too bad he didn’t stick around for the sequels – he was fine! I love how Galleria eventually made room for their crush to flourish while still keeping her dream in the center. This relationship also highlighted the importance of having a partner who makes room for your dream as well, all while supporting and uplifting you during the process. As Galleria so eloquently put it, “If he can’t respect my art, he can’t have my heart!”
3. Girl friendships are important and CAN work!
It’s no secret that girls get a bad rap when it comes to friendship. You’ll even encounter women who claim to prefer the company of men because “women cause too much drama.” To each his (or her?) own, but what I’ve found as a woman is that strong relationships with other women are essential to survival. Nobody understands a woman like a woman, and we need each other to work through this crazy journey of life – cause “we are sistas, we stand together!”
4. Motherly mentors matter.
Mothers are quietly the backbone of this movie. Galleria’s mother is always around to keep her grounded and in check; Chanel’s mother’s preoccupation with her new boyfriend leaves her with a sense of abandonment; Dorinda being raised by a foster mother is the root of a long list of insecurities for her; all the girls have a mother figure at school, Drinka Champagne, to provide them with comfort and guidance. The biggest take-away for me is that we always need that guiding touch and spirit of some sort of maternal presence, and when it’s missing, things get out of whack. Shout-out to all the mamas, mama figures, and mentors!
5. Never lose sight of what’s important.
Money, fame, achieving your goals and dreams, and having things go your way are all well and good, but is it worth messing up what’s really important? i.e. your relationships with the ones you love the most? Never! At the end of the day, you need your sisters to be that strong, supportive constant in your life.
6. Diversity is important to the human experience.
Not only did The Cheetah Girls showcase a friend group made up of diverse ethnicities, but of different socioeconomic statuses and family structures as well. Some of my greatest friendships in life have involved individuals who were not like me – they have varied based on sexuality, race, gender, and religion. These relationships have left me a more cultured and tolerant woman, and a better person all-around.
7. How to be a boss.
At its core, The Cheetah Girls can be boiled down to the following themes:
- If you want it, go for it.
- You have all the power in the world.
- Don’t let anything stop you from reaching your dreams, but keep the important things in the center.
- Never think you know it all.
- Stand your ground; do things your way, your day.
- Go big or go home.
- Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
While fluffy and cliche, all of these are just a few of the elements that get tossed together to become whole girl boss. I’m glad a little Disney movie was able to plant these seeds in me back then so that I am able to stand in the shade of them now. Growl power!
X’s and O’s,