Everything I Learned About Looking Good, I Learned from Nellie Oleson
When I was a kid, and all the other kids I knew were watching something like “You Can’t Do That On Television” or “The Electric Company”, my sole reason for watching TV was to catch reruns of that iconic TV show, “Little House on the Prairie“. How many girls of the tender age of 8 or 9 glued themselves to that show every day? I don’t know, but I do know that I re-negotiated my bedtime so that I could stay up and watch it, and sacrificed staying up late on Friday nights so that I could go to bed at 8:30 on the rest of the weekdays. That was big for someone who still can’t make proper decisions about her life today. But let me tell you – it was worth it. I have never regretted doing that since.
Growing up, I knew that I always wanted to be Laura Ingalls, or Half-Pint, as she will be referred to in this blog. Who wouldn’t? Played by Melissa Gilbert, she was an awkward little girl with an awkward toothy smile and a really big heart and sense of bravery. As a feminist, I recognize the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder as being ahead of her time, a successful writer and entrepreneur, and a kick-ass lady. At the time, I just thought TV- and book-Laura was cool and would make a fun best friend. Nearly everyone I know wanted to be Laura. No one, of course, wanted to be Mary. She was so stuck-up and prissy. And very few of my friends really wanted to be Carrie. Poor bumbling Carrie spent the majority of her TV life either in bed, going to bed, or getting up from bed. No one wanted that existence, though I’m sure we’d all kill for it now.
But in the back of my head, in a place where I’d never admit it, I thought the coolest character on that show was Nellie Oleson, played by the hilarious-in-real-life Alison Arngrim. I know, right? Nellie Oleson, the notorious bully, prissy-pants, overdressed, really mean girl who constantly plagued Laura? But hear me out. Nellie Oleson always got everything she wanted. Oh, I know. Her mother tried to half-ass discipline her. Sometimes her dad warmed her butt with whatever implement they used back in the 1880s. But the point was – she got what she wanted, AND looked good doing it. Who can argue with that? I always looked closer to ol’ Half-Pint there than I ever did to blonde, blue-eyed Nellie, but the lessons she taught me about being assertive, strong, and always well-dressed have followed me all my life. When she turned from being a complete brat to a sweet, calm lady in the second half of the series, I knew that her crappy behaviour as a child was just a front. Nellie had to surprise everyone. She had to show that you can’t judge someone by how they dress, but damned if she wasn’t going to look good even while slinging mud on the playground.
And so, this homely, short-arsed little girl watched and learned. You’re never overdressed without a scowl. And honestly, why would you want to be? You can be a strong lady and look amazing. Nellie told me so.
I’ve always been one to rock the Little House on the Prairie braids. Listen, when you have a fat face, your hairstyle is always going to be secondary to people tracing the contours of your round cheeks with their eyes. Again, like Half-Pint, I’ve been able to rock “cute” more than “stunning” the majority of my life. But I also realized that while my smile was never going to be the eye-catcher that Cosmo magazine talks about, I did have a repertoire of expressions that make me look better in Instagram pics than an awkward toothy smile ever has. And who did I learn those from? Nellie Frickin’ Oleson. Oh, yeah.
Now look here:
Case 1: Expressions. Half-Pint’s awkward toothy smile taught me how to look cute to get what I wanted. Dimples! Sparkling eyes! Rounded cheeks! Messy braids! It works for a 9-year-old. It worked for me. But going into adulthood, you just can’t create an aura of mystery with these skills. I had to turn to Nellie for lessons on how to make people look deeper. How to make them want to know more.
Sulky? Dark? Brooding? No. FIERCE. Look at Nellie almost glowering at the camera. Look at the way she seems to be saying, “Come at me, bro. Just tell me what you want from me. At your own risk, son!” Plus, attractive angles. You really can’t go wrong. Nearly all of my Instagram selfies utilize fierce expressions taught to me by the iconic Nellie Oleson. Amazing.