Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Growing up, Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold! was easily any millennial’s favorite show. You remember Helga calling Arnold “football head,” Gerald telling stories of urban legend, and Grandpa Phil just being Grandpa Phil. Hey Arnold!’s characters were one of a kind, but in your immediate memory, there’s one character missing—Phoebe. She was very quiet, meek almost. She had dark hair, wore glasses and was Helga’s best friend. But, the one thing that goes unnoticed about Phoebe from Hey Arnold! is that she was a silent badass.
Not all badasses are loud and bold. Ones like Phoebe are quiet, and their badassery comes out when they need it to the most.
Perhaps it’s when they need to stand up to 6th grade bullies or stand their ground after an embarrassing accident. Whatever the case, Phoebe was truly able to command what she wanted and do it well.
So, as we look back at our childhood and weep over this inevitable adulting, let’s take a moment to look at how Phoebe Heyerdahl was a silent badass.
She was a master at fencing.
Well, maybe not a master per say but she had some amazing skills. For a 4th grader to be able to wield a fencing sword with confidence they’re quite simply a badass. Fencing is a sport that takes patience, diligence and grace to play.
She accepted Helga for who she was, despite her flaws.
A true badass is never intimidated by anybody. Helga and Phoebe were best friends because Phoebe was unbothered by Helga’s bad attitude and mean streaks. Though Helga would get to Phoebe from time to time, she still stuck it out.
She was smart AF and other girls were jealous.
Phoebe was promoted from 4th grade to 6th grade— who wouldn’t be jealous? Of course older girls felt intimidated by her but it was hard work and brainpower that got Phoebe to where she was.
She wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself.
After eating Arnold’s prune cookies and farting into a mic on stage, Phoebe could’ve allowed her embarassment to stop her from going to school forever. But, she didn’t. In true badass fashion Phoebe found the courage to return to school and let her classmates know that she was “much more than,” the girl who farted.
She was a true ride-or-die for her friends.
When Helga found a competition that her sister Olga hadn’t won, she asked Phoebe to “take the fall” for her so that she could win. Phoebe knew that the competition was important to Helga, so she sacrificed personal merits to let Helga (who eventually chickened out) win. She put her friend before herself and that’s what mattered most.
She was able to bring out Helga’s soft-spot.
If this doesn’t make Phoebe a badass, I don’t know what else does. When Phoebe broke her leg, a new side of Helga came out that we’d never seen before. Yes, Phoebe, not Arnold, was able to bring out Helga’s soft spot. If you remember well, Helga was downright mean— the Regina George of P.S. 118, in modern terms. Any person who can bring out the nice side of Helga has to have the power of a badass.
She knew that honesty is the best policy.
After cheating in a poetry contest and winning, Phoebe decided to tell the truth. She didn’t allow her desire to be the ‘best’ beat out her conscience. She was able to recognize where she went wrong and make the necessary steps to correct her actions. Above all things, it’s Phoebe’s honesty that made her badass. She knew that everything wasn’t about her and was never afraid to be herself— despite failure and embarrassment. She was truly gem and her silent badassery is commendable.
Kadisha S. Phillips
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