After just finishing the Netflix Original, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018), my twenty-two-year-old self found herself reverting back to feeling sixteen. Although I have a bone to pick with a few plot devices, I find myself completely smitten with Sierra Burgess as a character. Where was she when I was in high school?
Not only is she well-developed, funny, and beautiful, she is also relatable. Here are the top five, of numerous, reasons that Sierra Burgess is the queen of relatability.
An Inclusive Representation of Body Image
Sierra Burgess, played by Shannon Purser, isn't the average portrayal of a high school student. I grew up with the thinnest of the thin girls cast as both the desirable female leads and the "nerds." When I saw Shannon on screen, I felt my heart physically flutter with the joy of representation. I have never been the thinnest of girls. In all honesty, I have always been extremely curvy, large thighs and extra tummy pudge galore. So when I saw that Sierra Burgess, a funny, beautiful, intelligent, and well-rounded character, actually looked like me, I nearly teared up. I remembered hating my figure throughout high school, finding myself constantly comparing my "flaws" to the other girls around me, and to be honest, I find myself still struggling with comparisons to this day. When I saw Sierra all I could think of was my sixteen-year-old self, and how happy she would have been to see this character on screen. Just to think, her existence still helped raise my self-esteem even in adulthood.
She Takes Pride in Her Intelligence
The film opens with Sierra trying her hardest to get accepted into Ivy League schools, participating in every possible extracurricular, and starting a tutoring business. What this shows to the audience is that she is not afraid to openly advocate for the importance of schooling, and it shows that she owns the fact that she is incredibly intelligent.
What I love so much about this attribute of Sierra's is that it contradicts what it was like for me in high school. The smarter kids were demonized for spending too much time on schoolwork and were ostracized for having "odd" interests like being an avid Shakespeare fan or enjoying mathematics. Sierra openly accepts this about herself, claiming her identity as a smart and independent intellectual.
This is so relatable because she is owning a part of herself that I only recently allowed myself to take pride in: being a dedicated student and embracing the positives of a thorough education.
She Openly Reveals Her QuirksGiphy
"Do you think stars know they shine?"
When Sierra asked questions like this one, it made her feel real to me; it made her seem human. She was never afraid to ask the questions that all of us have. Sure, our questions may not always be as poetic, or scripted, but we all have them. Questions like the one above make Sierra seem like a fully developed human being. After all, it's moments like these that help people to bond with one another and develop relationships. While watching the film, I found myself melting over the conversations that Sierra had with Jamey, the way to the two of them let loose and joked around made the relationship seem realistic.
The line, "Are you calling my voice fat?" made me laugh out loud because of how genuine of a witty response that is to someone's comment. I've had my fair share of jokes like that, and I can imagine this scenario playing out in real life.
Feeling Like a Sunflower Instead of a Rose
I've been there, as I'm sure countless of others have too: always feeling second best. I grew up being a try-hard, wanting to impress others in hopes that I would never be the second choice. When Sierra mentioned in her song that maybe if she were a rose instead of a sunflower Jamey would pick her, it really hit close to home. Everyone wants to be their best, but in such a competitive society, it can be nearly impossible to feel good enough, or like you'll ever obtain the goal of "living your best life." Sierra's realization and projection of insecurity (without being hyper-critical) shows a healthy and common amount of self-consciousness in the media. It shows that you can perceive that someone has it all, but they can still feel inadequate. I've been there; I'm still there, and her analogy is both uplifting and important. Not only does she make herself another flower, showing that she still possesses beauty, but she also compares herself to a flower that is strong and thrives off proper nourishment. This healthy analogy allows viewers to see the importance of holding onto and developing self-worth. Yes, Sierra has insecurities, but she realizes that she has so much to offer this world.
Sierra Burgess Isn't Actually A Loser
Sierra Burgess is a drop-dead gorgeous, quirky, and intelligent character who messes up on a regular basis, but always owns up to her flaws. In the end, she prides herself in schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and finds friendships that, one would assume, will last her a lifetime. Although she has her struggles with body image, relationships, and finding herself at the ripe age of eighteen, Sierra is a growing and relatable character who actually exemplifies what it is truly like to be in high school. I have never seen a more accurate portrayal of a high school student who just wants to experience life in the same way that "popular" kids do without giving up their entire identity.
Sierra Burgess isn't a loser; she is a strong headed, lovable individual who knows what she wants in life, but makes a few mistakes along the way. She isn't a loser, she is an accurate portrayal of what it's like to be a high school student in a competitive and judgmental society.