One day a few weeks ago, I decided to ditch any pretense of attempting to be productive while the baby was napping on me and snuggled in for the long haul. The Wedding Singer was on, followed by St. Elmo’s Fire. (Whoever did that channel’s programming deserves a raise.) I was in full-on ’80s mode and loving every minute of it.
On my little trip down memory lane, I remembered watching St. Elmo’s Fire as a senior in college. My roommates and I watched it late one night on—gasp!—a VHS tape. I wasn’t feeling truly old until I typed that. Anyway…by the end of the movie, we were all in tears, having deep conversations about what was waiting for us on the other side of graduation. We may not have been as royally effed up as Jules or Billy, but we certainly had our own insecurities, our own obsessions and plenty of our own hopes and dreams.
And it got me thinking: The best decade ever (minus the Aqua Netted hair) produced some damn good movies, and they taught me some invaluable lessons. Here are a few things that my daughter—and all girls—could stand to learn from 10 totally awesome ’80s flicks.
ST. ELMO’S FIRE
Being a grown-up is terrifying, especially when you first get out of college, but you can get by with a little help from your friends. Make sure you choose those friends wisely. Lesson #2? Try to keep your obsessions in check. I’m looking at you, Kirby and Jules and Kevin and—well, everyone else in that movie.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB
In trying to figure you out, most people will try to put you into a neat little box—and unfortunately, this will happen throughout your life, not just in high school. But you are so much more that, and you are infinitely more interesting when you embrace all of your wonderful quirks, flaws and contradictions. Don’t let the haters win.
Girls can be Goonies, too. Forge your own adventures, and don’t be afraid to be you, no matter how weird that version of you is. Also, stick with the piano lessons.
Ripley proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don’t need a man to save you. If anyone questions whether you can hold your own in some stupid boys’ club, show off your skills and kick some ass—alien or otherwise. Go ahead, don’t be shy.
A lesser-known Molly Ringwald movie, for sure, but let’s talk about sex, baby—in, you know, a totally sanitized ’80s sort of way. Baby Girl, I’d love if you waited till you were out of high school to have sex, but if you don’t, please, please, PLEASE use protection. If you’re not ready to have an open, honest conversation about that, you’re not ready to be having sex. End of story.
SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL
You have to like yourself before you can be in a relationship, and on the flip side, the best relationships sometimes pop up when you’re not expecting them. You never know who will be The One in the end, and honestly, the person it ends up being just might surprise the hell out of you. (See: Me and your dad.)
FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF
Sloan, in her white leather fringe jacket, is the coolest, isn’t she? Not that this admitted high school goody-two-shoes is advocating that you ditch school for a day out with your boyfriend, but maybe do it once before you graduate. In the immortal words of Ferris: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Sometimes it’s good to be bad…but just a little bad. Don’t give Mommy a heart attack, OK?
JUST ONE OF THE GUYS
It’s 2016, and women still aren’t taken as seriously as men in the workplace. We make an average of 78 cents on the dollar compared to our male counterparts, and according to a study that no woman needs to read to know is true, men are intimidated by women in power. That’s the sad reality, and it means that you have to try harder and fight harder to show the world what you’re made of. Maybe this will change someday, but it’s been 30 years since this movie came out and, well, here we are.
I realize that this is technically a TV movie and that the production quality is slightly questionable, but watch it. Helen Hunt as a quarterback on a football team? It may not seem quite as revolutionary now, but back then, it was unheard of. The lesson? Be strong, be brave, follow your heart—regardless of what you’re “supposed” to do—and go for it.
GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN
Some rules are made to be broken. And when the music moves you, you’ve just gotta dance! Also, if I’m ever this unreasonable when it comes to something as innocuous as dancing, feel free to smack me.