The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: The Film I Needed as a Young Woman

WARNING: Contains Spoilers!

 

Four girls, one summer, and one pair of blue jeans. Yes, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is my favourite film of all time and not just because of the killer cast comprising Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, and Amber Tamblyn; but because it was exactly what I needed when I saw it for the first time at a sleepover when I was 13, and it’s still exactly what I need now as an adult turning 20 in a few months.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about four lifelong teenage best friends who are about to spend their first summer apart. Before they separate, they find a pair of jeans that magically fits them all perfectly even though they’re different sizes. They decide that the jeans will be a symbol of friendship and vow to send them to one another across the world so each of them can have a turn with the jeans’ magic. Lena (Alexis Bledel) heads to Greece to visit her family, while Bridget (Blake Lively) goes to Mexico for soccer camp. Carmen (America Ferrera) travels to South Carolina to visit her dad, while Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) is the only one left at home, working at a discount department store in Maryland while filming her own movie. 

Each girl then learns from her new experiences: Lena falls in love for the first time and learns to have confidence in herself, Bridget realizes that her constant need to chase and find fulfillment comes from the death of her mother, Carmen learns to forgive her father after feeling abandoned by him, and Tibby learns the value in looking beyond the surface of others when her young film assistant dies. Each girl experiences such incredible and unique heartbreak, loss, and growth that it almost makes you forget that you’re watching an entire summer fall apart and come back together in just two hours. 

For thirteen-year-old me, nearly every film and TV show I watched with a female lead was centred around finding romance. It made it seem like a relationship with the person of my dreams should always be my ultimate end goal – like romantic love is the only place where I’d ever find fulfillment. This was the first movie that taught me that this is far from true, and that feeling fulfilled and excited about life doesn’t just come from romantic love– it comes from you. Lena taught me that I can’t love another person until I learn to love myself. Bridget taught me that I can’t hide from my problems and that I need to face them head-on to move forward. Carmen taught me the importance of accepting myself and being honest with others about my feelings. Tibby taught me to look deeper at the connections I make with other people, no matter how small. 

None of these lessons are easy to learn when you’re coming-of-age. They are incredibly scary and confusing to deal with and they make you feel small in the face of it all. Even though I’m an adult now, I still struggle with the very real challenges that these characters are dealing with and, as life goes for anyone, I’m guaranteed to face heartbreak, loss, and growth in the years to come, too. But, if I were to take away nothing else, Lena, Bridget, Carmen and Tibby showed me that I am more than capable. Yes, I’m 19, unsure of where I’m going next, and I’m trying to figure out relationships and friendships, and family. But I’m also me – a culmination of every lesson I’ve learned, every memory I’ve made, every experience I’ve had, and every person I’ve met. Suddenly, I don’t feel so small anymore.

So, if it’s not obvious, I think you should watch this movie. Or, at the very least, you should buy a pair of blue jeans. Maybe you’ll find your stride in Greece, begin a journey of emotional healing in Mexico, forgive a family member in South Carolina, or make a new connection in a Maryland department store. Or maybe you’ll become something– or someone– that you hadn’t realized was there all along.