I first discovered Gossip Girl in high school. I was a latecomer to the party. And spent most of one Christmas break binge watching the preceding seasons. I couldn’t pull myself away.
I rediscovered the show long after it had ended – and then again this year. I had missed the last season or two; but I had gathered from social media that “Chuck Bass is dead. No wait, actually he’s not.”
Needless to say, I now know the show very well and have taken a liking to one character in particular: Blair Waldorf.
Hate her or love her, this month marks the 10 year anniversary of the start of the first ever season of Gossip Girl. This piece resonates with me. And I would like to share with you why I feel that Blair is the perfect proxy for the young, ambitious, independent woman (note: not girl).
1.Blair taught us what it can mean to ‘have it all’
The concept of “Having it all” has taken on a slightly different meaning for millennial women, such as myself. We went from despising the term – we read and still love Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’ – to thinking ‘Perhaps this term isn’t so bad – if one defines it right’.
I am of the generation who were at the age to be watching Gossip Girl during those formative high school years. And unbeknownst to me, for whatever reason, something stuck – because many years later I returned to the show – in part – with a brand new set of eyes.
Long gone are the days that women had to choose between having a successful career, being taken seriously and financially independent and having a ‘family’ – potentially wealthy husband and a couple of lovely children. Today we know we can have it all – it is largely the norm for women to work regardless of if they have children.
But Blair showed us another level of having it all.
She had the passionate love affair, wealthy boyfriend, and after inheriting her mum’s company worked very hard, independently, to make a success of it. She set the bar very high. She faced people assuming/suggesting that her standards were indeed too high. But she met them. And she achieved inconceivable success.
Most importantly, despite her young romance and SPOILER ALERT – getting married and settling down very early in life – she had a man who understood her ambition; and had his own. They both knew they had important milestones to achieve before settling down. But their ‘love’ was strong enough to sustain this – and wisdom prevailed. Despite ups and downs, they waited until they were each successful in their own rite before settling down. And that is the next level of ‘having it all’.
On that note, Blair was also not afraid to love, and show it. She declared her love with boldness. She followed her heart, but she followed her mind too.
2. Fighting for it
There’s no denying that Blair came from privilege. Nonetheless, unlike Nate Archibald, Blair was not a Vanderblit. Her connections and influence did not have anywhere near the same kind of reach. Unlike her on-off-on-again heartthrob lover, Chuck Bass – she had no Empire to inherit.
In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that compared to many of her on screen comrades, Blair’s financial background was relatively modest. Her conscious or subconscious awareness of this may be why she overcompensated with additional snobbery, the ever-visible presence of Dorota, adamant rejection of Brooklyn, always beautiful, intentional outfits; not to mention her ‘minions’.
Her mother was a very successful designer, but those connections only went so far; particularly outside of the fashion industry. Case in point: after Blair’s short-lived marriage to Louis, his family’s dowry would have bankrupt her family. But Chuck paid it off in secret. Serena could date or marry whomever she wanted without fear of a change in lifestyle, as her grandmother, Cece’s money would last for “generations”. Blair was in. Blair was the same – particularly in the short term. Money doesn’t buy class – and Blair had class in abundance. But, Blair had to fight, and she knew it.
So, she FOUGHT. Blair knew the woman she wanted to be. And that woman was not ‘good enough’. She was the BEST. She fought for that internship at ‘The W’ – as she did not have any particular advantage in journalism despite boundless persistence. This might partially explain Blair’s ‘scheming’.
Blair will fight for love, she will fight for success, she will fight for power. She will, unapologetically, fight for whatever she wants.
3. Blair is a real woman
Make no mistake, Blair is, in every way, absolutely gorgeous. She is elegant, regal, has perfect skin, beautiful eyes and knows it, too. But, in some way, she is also accessible. She is not the perfect, tall, blonde, fabulous, effortless and seemingly unattainable, Serena Van Der Woodsen . Somehow, it is easier to see oneself in Blair. It almost feels as though she has yet to come to a place of full awareness of self. And that is something that many of us can relate to.
Blair wakes up in the morning, puts herself together – often with the help of Dorota – and looks amazing all the time. But she suffers emotions, too. She ‘wears’ a brave face, just like many of us do. She hides if she can, but she she shows up when she knows she MUST. You get the sense that she is still battling her emotional troubles – even when she smiles. And you realise that she is not simply ‘high maintenance’ for the sake of it. She is ‘high maintenance’ because being Blair is hard. It takes effort to get up in the morning, and commit as well as strive to be the best in every aspect of her life. It takes effort to be Blair.
4. She always has a plan but she is still finding her path
One gets the impression that most of the time Blair is not ‘living for the moment’. She is sparingly spontaneous. She is aware of the effects of her actions – even when her actions are manifested in a less than savoury type of ‘scheming’. Her intelligence and love of the arts and literature drew her to Dan Humphrey in later seasons. And even she didn’t fully understand why, or how to interpret that friendship. So she hid it, she questioned herself, misinterpreted her own feelings, misinterpreted his feelings and, finally, in one of life’s cyclical turns, found her centre once again.
Although seemingly unexpected, this kind of episode is typical of Blair. Just like her episode with Prince Louis. She might have a good idea as to who she is or what she loves, but he doesn’t yet know what she wants.
And yes, denial is part of it, but for the most part, Blair just doesn’t know how to feel. And has the tendency to place more importance on the feelings and expectations of others.
We know little of her most private thoughts. But we all know that Blair spends a lot of time thinking about the future. Focussed, fixated. But simultaneously, not entirely sure what it holds. She knows the kind of woman she wants to become, and like many of us, is still forging her path.
Nonetheless, she does this with the utmost, outward confidence. And somehow, that too, is aspirational. Blair taught us: ‘You don’t need to know what it is yet, but if you can see it, if you can see the faintest glimmer, you can have it. And you should ALWAYS chase your dreams.’
Chuck and Blair decided they wanted to find their individual paths of success independently, first. And this formed the foundation of her relationship – although imperfect – Blair selected a man who is powerful, masculine, loving, liberal and who supports her hopes, dreams and ambitions.
We all came to love Chuck Bass, whether or not we cared to admit it to ourselves, but we loved him for who he was to Blair.
Have an amazing day!
Image links are available upon request 🙂