Heather Chandler Is My Hero

If you’ve ever seen the 1988 movie Heathers you may have a furrowed brow reading my title. Why in the world would Heather Chandler, Queen of Mean, be anyone’s hero? Sure, to her classmates and peers, she’s the alpha female; but they don’t admire her as much as they fear her wrath. As leader of the clique, the Heathers and an unsightly yet refreshingly spunky Veronica, run Westerberg High.

{Heather McNamara, Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Veronica Sawyer}

Fast forward: the year is 2004 and Mean Girls is making it’s debut. The film was an instant hit and girls around the globe were quick to comment on how relatable it is. Everyone has experience with bullying, and in high school it’s on a completely different scale. Regina George, the antagonist queen bee, takes a chance on new student Cady Heron. Allowing Cady access to a world of popularity was Regina’s form of charity and a way to up the anti of her position of power at school.

mean girls{Cady Heron, Karen Smith, Gretchen Wieners, and Regina George}

I won’t spoil anything, but Heathers and Mean Girls share similarities when it comes to their protagonist’s pursuit at putting the anti-heroes in their place. Yet this exact retaliation is what makes Heather Chandler my hero.

Twenty-six years ago today, Heathers came out in theatres. Having just seen the movie for the first time last year, I fell in love. Give me Winona Ryder, a 90’s wardrobe, and sarcastic one-liners and I’m on board, yet what left a lasting impression on me was how it speaks to how powerful women are. Although the film centers on Veronica (played by Ryder) and her quest to right the wrong doing’s made by her best frenemies, Heather Chandler is one girl who won’t give up her spot. From the opening sequence when we’re introduced to her, dressed in all red, fiery attitude to match; you can tell when she enters a room she commands it. If it’s confidence or an air of snobbery that inspires such behaviour is a question we don’t get an answer to but there were plenty of cutthroat quips. Ms. Chandler was aware of how she was seen, the first to acknowledge that everyone see’s her as a “friend or fuck.” The only advice she gives to Veronica in the film is that if she wants to fuck with the eagles, she has to learn to fly. I don’t commend her bullying or behaviour yet I wonder what Westerberg would be like if she used her power for good. On the other hand, if she were a man (like football captain Ram, in the film) I can only imagine the praise she would receive for sticking her guns. In a world that see’s women like Heather Chandler as a “bitch,” men are perceived as “tenacious” for acting the same way.

heathers gif 2heathers gif 3{Donning her signature red bow}

In the film, Veronica takes it upon herself to make Westerberg a better place, one that’s not run by three girls who share the same first name. Something that left me feeling puzzled though was that we never find out why Veronica leaves her childhood best friend to link up with the Heathers. Actually, that’s a lie – Heather Chandler makes a comment to Veronica that if she wasn’t the most popular girl in school, she’d want to hang out with herself too. Veronica didn’t have to align herself with a gaggle of girls who were notorious for their cruelty, she made that decision on her own. Just like in Mean Girls when Regina invites Cady to eat lunch with the Plastics, Veronica had the chance to stay with her true friends. In both films, what started out as plots for revenge, slowly build into something much bigger than the young girls.

Again, I’m not condoning bullying or the behaviour anyone would be subjected to when dealing with a real life mean girl. I’m just trying to make a statement about the double standard that exists for men and women. Women are constantly defending themselves from everything the world throw’s at us, and if it were based on a true story, these girls would hardly be old enough to know better. When adults say “boys will be boys” then scold girls on defending themselves with words, it leaves a grey area that makes it difficult to practice what we preach.

If Heather Chandler was a real person, she would be 42 years old. I can’t imagine her looking back on her high school years and  feeling good about herself or her behaviour. Although what’s done is done, recognizing the mistake you made is the first step to finding a solution. Perhaps Heather would find it in her heart to call Martha Dunnstock (better known as Martha Dumptruck) and offer her a chance to answer the lunchtime poll. Or maybe she would retort with her classic snark and leave us with “fuck me gently with a chainsaw, do I look like Mother Theresa?” and continue to be the bitch we all love to hate.


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