Released in 2001, the animated movie Spirited Away has accumulated a popularity and a loyal fan-base for very good reason. The story follows the heroine, Chihiro, after she and her parents stumble upon what they believe is an abandoned town. After her parents are turned into pigs, Chihiro realizes the town is actually a resort for the supernatural. She is then forced to work in order to free her parents and return to the human world.
I watched Spirited Away when it first came out, and have since watched it more times than I can count. As a young girl, it was rare to see a reflection of myself in the movies and TV shows I watched. Chihiro was around my age, and even though I saw myself in the way she cried, got scared, screamed and got lonely, she also presented me with a courage and fortitude that I had never recognized before. Her character is strong and resilient in the most realistic way a 10-year-old can be—taking ghosts head-on with her face smeared in tears and snot. Chihiro teaches young girls that they can be smart and quick-witted without straying from their essence of “girlhood.” Chihiro is not a girl fit into a hero’s mold, but a girl playing the part of a girl: she is both genuine and familiar. Even now, Chihiro’s ability to find herself in the face of adversity has taught me more about how to be brave and determined than any superhero has. An inspiration to young girls as well as women, there is no animated girl more three-dimensional than Chihiro.
Girl Museum Inc.