“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” – Leslie Knope
I have a lot of woman crushes – but one woman reigns supreme above them all. That woman is Leslie Knope; the loyal government employee, passionate friend, founder of Galentine’s Day, and queen of my heart.
To those of you who have lived sheltered lives, let me introduce you. Leslie is the star of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, a mockumentary style show about life in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana. She is an incredibly dedicated public servant who goes beyond the norm every time to achieve incredible feats of nature. It is a testament to Leslie that regardless of whatever challenge faces her, she never really loses sight of her end goal which is to help people and to make the citizens of Pawnee’s life better. Her sheer determination combined with her huge capacity for caring makes her the kind of woman I want to be.
With unwavering self-belief, regardless of what challenges Leslie faces, she knows that she will achieve her goal. She knows that she is set for greatness. In a society where women are constantly told to not aim to high, to doubt themselves, and to keep quiet about their achievements for fear of being seen as arrogant – this is all the more admirable. It takes a person of great courage to admit that sometimes they are inspired by themselves, and Leslie does that. She doesn’t fear being seen as big-headed because she works harder and cares more about her work, her friends, and breakfast food than anyone else. This kind of self-confidence should be encouraged in young women – and having a role model like Leslie Knope on TV embodying that self-belief is so important.
Whilst Leslie Knope’s determination, self-belief, positivity, and just the amount she cares make her a great woman crush Wednesday there is one characteristic that shines above all others – her celebration of female friendships. Femininity is devalued in our society, women saying “they’re not like other girls” or “I’m only friends with guys, girls are too much drama.” However, for so many women our female friendships are one of, if not the, most important relationships we have. There is something so unique about the friends we have who experience the world in a similar way to you – whether it is friends who are both gay men, friends who are both black women – you are fighting the same battles side-by-side. It’s a dynamic that is so rarely depicted on screen, but where Parks and Rec and Leslie’s friendships do something special. Not only is this relationship shown, but it is celebrated. It is blatantly obvious how much Leslie deeply loves her best friend Ann through every interaction the duo have – most notably with a surprise party that Leslie throws for her which celebrated every holiday at once. Amy Poehler who plays Leslie has said that Parks and Rec is really the love story of Leslie and Ann – and it’s one of the best love stories I know.
It is not just Leslie’s friendship with Ann that is celebrated – but her relationship with every woman in her life.She can be credited with inventing on the single most important days in the calendar of any Parks and Rec fan – Galentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that should be adopted by every one – you have so many days to celebrate romance, but when do you really take time to tell your friends how much you love them? But I’ll let Leslie explain it better:
“What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith fair, minus the angst. Plus fritatas.”
Seeing romantic relationships celebrated on screen is so common, so it is hugely refreshing to see the celebration of female friendships depicted in a way that feels so true to how I experience it.
It is her celebration of womanhood and friendship, and her determination and positivity that makes Leslie Knope my woman crush Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
[Image: Kathryn Donohue]