For those of us forbidden from watching The Simpsons, listening to CDs stamped with an “explicit” warning and everything MTV-related, we sought refuge in the good clean fun that was The Disney Channel. And if you’re anything like us, there’s a good chance your circa-2002 bedroom was plastered in Tiger Beat posters of a baby-faced Lizzie McGuire, rocking her very best turquoise pleather jacket, and blonde hair ensnared in 52 sparkly butterfly hair clips.
Aside from being, like, way ahead of her time, there are a whole lot of morals we learned from watching Lizzie/Hilary Duff stumble through her tween years and beyond (biggest we’re-growing-up wake-up call ever was when we heard Hil was preggers in 2011). It was the show that showed us it was okay to be painfully awkward—in that delightful brand of overacting unique to The Disney Channel—and continues to whisper its life lessons via flippant cartoon guardian angel today.
So here’s our love letter to Lizzie—we could have had a worse role model.
1. When it comes to hair, there is always, always room for improvement. 65 episodes and a movie, and nary a repeated hairstyle.
2. The Disney costume department had a field day with Lizzie McGuire, eschewing anything that didn’t fit the criteria of sparkly, print-on-print-on-print, furry or slogan-emblazoned (Rock On!). The result? Permission from fashion’s finest to saunter into seventh grade decked out in a Limited Too explosion of pom poms, icicle-blue eye shadow, platform flip-flops and a one-piece bathing suit as a top (unfortunately true story).
3. Feeling rebellious? A clip-on nose ring, teased hair and a badass pearl choker should do the trick.
4. Your sassiest soliloquies are best left to that animated voice inside your head.
5. Fancy event? Is Aaron Carter going to be there? Crimp your hair until it is eight times its natural volume and lighter than air. (Side note: Remember the Hilary/LiLo/Aaron love triangle? And that time 10 years later when we watched this and our hearts took flight? Another life lesson from Lizzie: the good girl always wins.)
6. Sometimes the most popular boy in school isn’t the one you should be crushing on, even if his shapely surfer ‘do could rival Harry Styles’ (ahem, Ethan Craft). Team Gordo, all the way.
7. Just because you are blonde, female and in middle school, it absolutely does not mean you can’t pull off a do-rag. Just make sure it’s lilac and shines brighter than, in Rihanna's words, a diamond.
8. When in doubt, baubles, bucket hats, and bedazzling.
9. Friends come first, no matter how famous you get. Like Lizzie’s short-lived modeling career (FYI: feather boa and eyeshadow = model). Or that time she flew to Italy and became an insta-celeb. Hey now, hey now—this is what dreams are made of.
10. The best way to confront your BFF’s eating disorder is to dance it off in a music video.