25 Years of Buffy: A Personal Reflection

House of Gucci, meet Sarah Michelle Gellar, who, as always, slayed fashion at an event hosted by The Little Market on International Women’s Day, May 8th, 2022, wearing a delightfully busy, asymmetrical floral patterned dress that balanced her slender, bare right shoulder and arm with a chunky shoulder pad and sleeve on her left side. SMG has always been my fashion queen— from the infamous backless, powder blue Vera Wang dress she wore to the 1999 Emmy Awards and reprised on Instagram in 2018, to her red and white geodome patterned dress with red wrap and deep red matching lipstick at the 2001 Golden Globe Awards. I’ve been closely following SMG’s fashion looks since middle school. She was the first person who gave me permission to be beautiful— to allow that word to slip off my tongue in self-description. I was too afraid to speak or embody it for decades, but she always helped me feel it. When younger, I would quiver at the term handsome. I knew it fit who I was and wanted to be as much as the term “man” did— which is to say, not at all. I wanted to be pretty. And I am finally letting myself be just that. I recently got my hair cut, brought along a picture of SMG with a fabulous hairdo, and joked I’d pay double if she could make me look like that. Handsome be damned.

Fittingly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer celebrated its 25th anniversary only two days after SMG attended and gave a speech at the Women’s Day event. Buffy, the teenage girl forced to lead a secret life that was at once an open secret to some but primarily unspoken by most, mirrored my own life well into my thirties. I always felt I did not fit into prescribed categories but never felt safe expressing this. One day, at a writing retreat with no wifi, I was able to download the final episode of Buffy, “Chosen,” after hours of failed attempts at tethering my cell phone data. I, as always, cried during her iconic speech where she gifts her powers to others so that everyone that “can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us.” Like every episode, I had seen this one at least a half dozen times, but suddenly it did more than just give me goosebumps— It gave me hope. It was around this time that I came out as non-binary. That I stood up. And with that stand, many more came. I have been able to write through significant trauma by using this show as a conduit to channel my secrets in a way that felt safe and brave. Because of Buffy, I have finally been able to own my narrative in ways I did not feel were possible before.

The credit, really, ultimately goes to the always impeccably dressed and incredible SMG. Buffy is mere words on the page. SMG is who brings them to life. As those who know me can vouch, I am a fan of all her work, including her very entertaining Instagram account, but I owe the most gratitude to her work on Buffy. I would not be exactly who I am without that role. I am glad to see SMG is still slaying it into 2022 and empowering marginalized voices. I would never have expected otherwise.

Erik Fuhrer is the author of 6 poetry collections, most recently, Eye Apocalypse (2021). They can be found at www.erik-fuhrer.com.

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