7 Lessons We Learned From Sookie St. James (A.K.A. Melissa McCarthy in 'Gilmore Girls') About Fashion and Positive Body Image

With Netflix (FINALLY!) releasing Gilmore Girls this month, we've all been feeling a little nostalgic for early millennium television. Seriously, I've been binge-watching Everwood and Lizzie McGuire every day for most of October.

Gilmore Girls was, and is, something special though. We often think of it as the greatest mother-daughter show ever made. We consider Lorelai Gilmore an epic feminist. And we reminisce about the show's best moments, like Lane dyeing her hair purple or the precious seconds that were Lorelai and Luke's first kiss. But there was also Sookie St. James — the character that will forever make Melissa McCarthy something of a heroine.

Sookie St. James was the first plus-size character I saw on television whose role had nothing to do with being the center of jokes, the exceptionally introverted best friend (though she was an incredible best friend) or the designated, pitiable co-character, doomed to live a life of loneliness, self-hatred, and irrevocable misery. Her weight was never an issue or an affliction. It wasn't something talked about, because it just didn't matter.

I was only 10 when Gilmore Girls aired, but even then I could tell that Sookie was confident and strong. She had personality. And she was of a similar body type to me (and that wasn't something I was used to seeing on TV). Since the finale in 2007, Melissa McCarthy has become a voice for positive body image. But there was a lot to be learned from Sookie, too. She instilled lessons in fashion and in confidence and in self-love, and she is not forgotten.

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Pattern Mixing is Awesome

Something plus-size women are often told (or maybe that all women are told) is that pattern mixing is unflattering (and unclassy). But Sookie was never afraid to play around and experiment with her wardrobe. Her pattern mixing was quirky and bold and fun, and proved that the key to looking awesome isn’t always sticking to solid colors.

Image: The WB

Bold Prints All the Way

Speaking of not always needing to stick to solid colors, Sookie was all about loud prints. Even when she was just going to be spending a day at work, she would slip on an epic paisley chef’s coat. A ”plus-size fashion rule“ is that bold patterns and prints are to be avoided, because they bring far too much attention to parts of the body that you might not want people looking at. But Sookie proved time and time again that this rule, and so many of the others, are total nonsense.

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Workwear Doesn't Have to Be Boring

Even on the days that Sookie opted for a more casual chef’s coat or simple patterns and colors, she never looked boring. Sometimes we all want have those days when wearing anything other than jeans and Converse to the office seems like an impossible and unnecessary feat. But Sookie seemed to know that a lot can be said for looking good and feeling good. It’s not about pleasing others or “looking your best to impress.” It’s about doing something that’s going to make you feel just a little bit more positive about the start of another day.

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Classics Are Classics For a Reason

Some of you might be thinking, “Bandanas are so 1999.” But here’s the thing: “Classic” accessories or fashion become “classics” because they work. It’s the whole reason the return of the scrunchie happened last year. Sookie perfected the use of the bandana (often paired with pig tails) and it never failed her. Cute, easy, and a wonderful way to spice up an ensemble in very little time.

Sometimes You Need a Little Plaid (And A Drink)

I don’t know what it is about plaid/tartan, but there’s something so comforting about those red and black checks (and the material is so often something kind of wonderful, like wooly fleece). Sookie never felt guilty about about needing a break, or a drink. She had her bad days — her moments when nothing could quite sooth the bitterness like some alone time. And she showed us that that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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Don't Be Afraid to Get a Little Dirty

Sookie was never afraid of getting her hands dirty — and not just because she was a chef. Even on her wedding day (as she wore one of the most gorgeous gowns I have ever seen on television or IRL), she strapped on her apron and got her cake looking just right. She never got weird about messing up her hair or her outfit. She just did what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it.

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Love You for You

Earlier this year, Melissa McCarthy told People , “I’ve never felt like I needed to change… I’ve always thought, ‘If you want somebody different, pick somebody else.’” This is an amazing mantra, and one that Sookie St. James knew well. She knew that you need to love yourself before you can love another. But she also knew that someone who really loves you won’t ever want you to be anything different. Sookie and Jackson are still one of the best couples teen telly (or all telly) has ever seen, and this is definitely a big reason why.

Image: The WB