Little Women was nominated for six Oscars, and deservedly so. I’m not writing this post to complain about why I wish it had won more than Best Costume Design. I’m also not here as an English teacher, analyzing the merits of Greta Gerwig’s artistic liberties with adapting Louisa May Alcott’s classic.
I’m here to try my best to put into words how much this film has seeped into my psyche. I walked into the theatre over a month ago, excited to see a remake and ready to have a good cry. I shed fewer tears than I imagined, and left the theatre, already mapping out a post in my mind. There was just too much to say, and I didn’t know how to say it, so I let it ruminate. For days. And weeks.
These “little women” reflect the universal and ongoing experience that is womanhood. Motherhood, being just one of its many facets.
Often times, women are labeled as one thing or another. We do it to ourselves, each other, or we are neatly placed into American-made boxes. We take silly quizzes online to “discover” what one character we “are” most like. Watching these “little women” come to life finally made me realize why reducing ourselves to a single label is so incredibly off base.
We are all the March women throughout our lifetime. Our identity as a woman is collective, not singular.
We are Marmee, the mother behind the scenes, helping our children be kind to themselves and each other. We are there, raising each child as they are, distinct from us, and yet enmeshed in our being. We leave sometimes, pulled somewhere else, seemingly distancing ourselves from our children’s current lives. But the choices they make in our absence can be traced back to us. Our presence in their pocket. The whisper of our words in their ears.
We are Meg when we realize settling down does not equate to abandoning our dreams. We are Meg when our material desires grab hold of us, and we are torn between guilt and treating ourselves. Our stability is often overlooked, but then, it is the very thing that others seek.
We are Beth, ever aware of the passing of time. We see the struggles that lay before us, and we will ourselves to conquer our fears. We take solace in knowing that we must say goodbye to some pieces of ourselves for the sake of our own health. And yet, there are some pieces of ourselves that we will never allow to die. We are Beth in our quietest moments, listening to the soundtrack that is the fragility and beauty of life.
We are Jo and Amy, a ball of seeming contradictions. A constant seesaw of insecurity and confidence, selfishness and resolve, angst, and honor. We set rules and break them. There we are, fighting ourselves while fighting what surrounds us. Judging others while being our own harshest critics. We feel invisible, stuck in a world that doesn’t meet our idealized dreams. And yet we refuse to stop chasing our dreams and a new world for them to exist. We will redefine the happily ever after we once thought so out of reach.
We are even Aunt Josephine, embittered, and emboldened. We create a fortress around our hearts, wary of how others will treat it. We spit biting truths, masquerading as advice. We are called out and, eventually, see the error of our ways. We change, sometimes too late.
I saw Little Women with four other women. We are all mothers. Between us, we are raising 10 children, from a toddler to a teenager. We met as PTA moms. But we’re so much more than that. We’re still getting to know each other and ourselves. We are ever-expanding who we are.
We are all the March women. We exist as a continuum, different selves joined together.