Why It Is Okay to Be a Girl and Not Look Up to Hermione Granger
There are so many amazing female characters in the wizarding world. These women have made tremendous contributions to this extraordinary world. However, it took some major self-discovery and reflection for me to realize this.
It has been said a million times that books have an impact on the people we become or are still in the process of becoming. This can be especially true when those books are such an important part of our childhoods. The more we begin to immerse ourselves in books, the more characters begin to seem less like characters. They seem to become reflections of people in our lives, and we can even start to see ourselves in them.
I started reading Harry Potter when I was nine years old, and at that age, I remember being super impressionable. I would take quizzes in my favorite magazines just to see what character I was most like or what personality traits we shared. The majority of the time, I would notice the trend in the choices, so I would pick the options to ironically get the result that I was just like Hermione Granger. I wanted to have a brilliant mind and be able to solve any problem at the drop of a hat. I even started to check out multiple large books at the public library, stacking them on my desk at school to hone in on my inner Hermione. I even cheated on several Sorting Hat quizzes just to come to another ironic conclusion.
I believed that Hermione had to be my favorite character, and I had to be just like her. For some reason, I believed that if I wanted to look up to or gain something from someone in the series, it had to be Hermione.
With the amazing invention of Pottermore came the “authentic” Sorting Hat quiz. All these years, I swore up and down that I was a Gryffindor. When I took the quiz, I was bewildered to find that the first question did not ask me my favorite color – with the options being red, yellow, green, or blue. To my surprise, I found out that I am a Ravenclaw. When I saw this, I looked for every option to retake the quiz because this had to be a mistake. So I did what any logical person would do and used a fake email to make an entirely new account to take the quiz again. Once again, I was welcomed with blue wallpaper and the Ravenclaw emblem. Lovely. All of the Gryffindor T-shirts and merch that I had bought from Hot Topic now made me seem more of a fraud than Gilderoy Lockhart himself.
I do not think this qualifies as a midlife crisis, but I do think that this was some tough information for me to swallow. I thought that because I wanted to be Hermione, I had to do everything like her, not caring if it aligned with who I was in an authentic or genuine way. A character that was so pivotal to my personal development had suddenly become the person I thought I had to be in life. Sounds like a pretty profound problem for a 13-year-old to tunnel through.
Reading more in depth about Ravenclaw and its members put a new perspective on the way I approached the series. I became open to learning more about the characters and ideas that were not necessarily mentioned on every single page. What I gained out of this situation was that there were other characters in the series. Quite a few if I may add. So many of them did things that I valued and admired. They said things that I could relate to even after I put my book down for the night. It was through these moments that I realized that I did not have to be like Hermione, and that was okay.
Instead, I could be Luna Lovegood, unafraid to be my authentic self no matter what others said. This became crucial in my transition from middle school to high school as I grappled with whether or not I wanted my fun fact to still be “I am a huge Harry Potter fan.” I decided to keep it, and I am glad I did.
I could even be Ginny, who showed me the beauty of transformation. There was something refreshing about seeing her go from crushing on Harry to becoming his wife. I valued this on so many levels other than that of love and exiting the friend zone.
There are so many more characters that taught me things. I would have never learned those things if I did not get out of the headspace that Hermione was the standard for me, as a girl, to channel. This is not to knock her as the amazing heroine she is, but it is just to show that it is okay to see ourselves in characters who we never thought could impact us.