Being a child of the '90s was fun — you'll never hear otherwise from me. Still, adolescence comes with certain growing pains, regardless of how awesome the decade you grew up in was. So if you're ever curious about the obsession with Boy Meets World that took root in my formative years, look no further than Topanga Lawrence. During a time when my self-esteem was shaky at best, Topanga was teaching me to how to be confident. This chick was letting her freak flag fly. We all already wanted to look like her (hello, perfect hair!) but more importantly, seeing how she carried herself with such confidence, we all wanted to be like her.
While the show title itself suggests the central character was Cory Matthews, I think we can all agree the series would not have been the same without Topanga. Not Cory and Topanga — or Copanga, as the kids have "shipped" it these days — but Topanga herself: The quirky, free-spirited, empowered girl who was always true to who she was, even when others questioned it. Plus, not only was she not afraid to stand up for herself, but she also never shied away from standing up for others. I mean, c'mon... who else came to Minkus's defense?
Real talk: It would take for-eeee-ver to cover all of the times Topanga inspired us to be confident kids, but these eight times are a good start.
1. When She Channeled Her Inner Goddess
Who could possibly forget the moment among the chaos in class when Topanga chooses to meditate? When Cory attempts to take roll, Topanga responds, "I'm channeling. I will only answer to the name [growls]." This was one of our earliest indicators that Topanga was, well, not your average girl — and she wasn't afraid to be exactly who she was.
2. When She Chopped Her Locks
This was a pivotal moment for Topanga and, oh you know, THE WORLD. When Cory struggles with self-esteem over his own looks — particularly in comparison to Topanga and Shawn's — Topanga does the unthinkable to prove a point by lopping off all her hair. Sure, she freaked out momentarily afterwards, but ultimately she embraced it and embodied her words to Cory: "Physical appearance is secondary to inner beauty."
3. When She Didn't Cave To Peer Pressure
Let's face it: When you're a kid, peer pressure is everywhere. It's to blame for most of the reckless stuff we wound up doing in our youth. But Topanga proved you don't have to bow down to peer pressure to be cool. When their schoolmates assume Cory and Topanga have, ahem, sealed the deal, Topanga insists, "I want my good name back." Instead of dong the easy thing and letting the crowed believe it was true, Topanga openly stood up to the rumors.
4. When She Didn't Let A Guy Walk All Over Her
Boys, boys, boys. Too many adolescent hours are spent pining over them, or taking them back after the umpteenth melodramatic middle school breakup in front of your overflowing, army green locker. Still, no matter how much Topanga adored Cory, she didn't let him off the hook when he made a bonehead move (which, let's face it, he definitely did from time to time).
5. When She Embraced Her Uniqueness
It's tough to whittle this down to one moment, since Topanga is still — now in her Girl Meets World days — dancing to the beat of her own drum. In the first season of Boy Meets World, though, we really got to see this weird, yet rad hippie girl in her full bohemian glory. And when Cory and Shawn call her weird, she never skips a beat. "I don't think I'm weird," she said. "I think I'm unique."
6. WhenShe Went After What She Wanted
No one could ever accuse Topanga of being a wallflower. From pinning Cory against the wall in sixth grade and kissing him to asking him to marry her before they left for college, Topanga made bold choices. In fact, she was so gutsy, it gave all of us the courage to be gutsy, too.
7. When She Challenged Convention
When you're a kid, you spend a lot of time trying not to make the wrong move, which often entails remaining mum on occasions you might call undue attention to yourself. Unless, that is, you're Topanga Lawrence. From the dress code to the patriarchy, this girl fearlessly went after institutions she considered outdated.
8. When She Made No Apology For Having High Standards
Sure, Topanga was what you might call an overachiever (remember the episode she demanded Mr. Feeny give her the 700th A?). But the underlying message here was that Topanga made no apologies for havng high standards, rightly so. And such is the crux of adolescence — it's tempting to cover up your intelligence or your ambitions or your dreams for fear they just wouldn't be "cool" enough. How lucky for us that Topanga made high standards the standard!
Images: Disney Channel; Giphy (8)