There I was standing on the local baseball field, the majority of the high school around me, and a giant clock counting down from five minutes…. And then I open my eyes. I just woke up on my couch watching Drew Barrymore in “Never Been Kissed” for what feels like the hundredth time.
This summer was the first time I had ever watched “Never Been Kissed” (I know, shocking). As an avid lover of chick-flicks, I was excited to watch what is (to some) deemed as a classic. But let me tell you, my excitement was for naught. At the end of the movie, I decided that this was not going to be added to my list of favorites. Besides my other (pickier) movie critiques, there was the one that I had never experienced with a romantic comedy-which made me feel so strongly- it was too relatable.
Let’s start with a disclaimer. I am 20 years of age and I have never been kissed (I know, shocking). This small tidbit of information usually elicits one of these statements: “Ohhhh, that’s so CUTE” or “AWWW don’t worry the time will come when it is right” or the worst one “Oh My GOSH let me set you up!!!”
One, I do not feel that having never been kissed is in any way “adorable.” Two, if I hear one more person tell me “it’ll happen when the time is right,” I’ll throat punch them. Three, please do not ever offer to set me up with someone, I will turn it down immediately. Not because I think that I’ll be set up with someone sketchy, but because it makes me feel like people see me as the “naive little girl” that needs some help in finding love. This is not true, I am just such an avid watcher of “chick-flicks” that I am a little old-fashioned in the way I want to fall in love. To keep this moving along let’s just say my idea of falling in love does not include Tinder and it never will.
Sometimes I get a little bitter and cynical (it’s a mood) and I think I am such a loser for this one small aspect of my life. Then I usually say “screw it I’m just going to get a Tinder and that’ll be it.” But then I remember the classics, like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Love Actually,” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and decide that I would like my first kiss to be something special. Heck, I’ve waited this long I might as well wait for perfection.
Now, you can see where I would find “Never Been Kissed” too relatable. For those who don’t know, Drew Barrymore’s character is a 25-year-old working girl who has never been kissed, that is until she has to go undercover for a story at a local high school. There she gets a chance to relive her high school days, but “better.” Some might say, “But Annie, you should like this movie because it represents the ‘unique’ population of kids who have never been kissed too!” NO. While I agree that representation of high school non-romances is important, this movie falls into the trap they all do. That Drew Barrymore’s character had never been kissed, not because she was unlucky in love nor too shy to actually talk to cute boys, but because she was deemed a “loser.”
This “loser” trope is what made the movie so spiteful to me. The character is seen to be “nerdy, naive, and just overall not attractive.” In fact, when she goes undercover that is how she starts her high school experience again until a magical makeover. This “miracle” is what ultimately gets her the “first kiss.” If I had watched this movie in high school, I would have told myself, “Annie you are Drew Barrymore in this movie and you need a makeover if you want a guy to kiss you.” While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be your best self and look your best, for someone who was as self-conscious as I was during high school, then this message of needing a makeover is not a good one.
I would sit in front of the mirror almost daily and pick apart my image from all of the little things I hated about myself. This habit would last until the summer between my freshmen and sophomore year in college. Needless to say, I did not need a movie to tell me that I needed a makeover to get boys to like me.
Finally, one summer I decided I was going to stop caring. Not all the way (I still shower and take care of myself), but I decided that I was going to stop hating my nose, my chin, my stomach, and my back. I decided that I was pretty the way I am. I did that all on my own, no need for a finicky boy who could change his mind at a moment’s notice to tell me that. While I still sometimes get annoyed that I have a typical “German” chin, I don’t sit in front of the mirror and wish that instead of my beautiful grandmother’s chin I had gotten my grandpa’s. Long paragraph short, I don’t lay in bed at night thinking “IF ONLY I was (insert change here) then a boy would like me!”
While the premise of the movie is “cute,” I think that instead of representing the minority of kids that have never been kissed we should normalize it. Let me repeat that we, as a society, should normalize the idea that people can go through high school and not have a romantic life. And not because they are “losers, nerds, or unattractive,” but because they are too shy to talk to the really cute person they like, or they are focused on their school work, or they just don’t want to be kissed. I’m not saying that we can’t have fun and dramatic TV shows, like “Riverdale” or “Gossip Girl,” where love drama is the norm, I’m just saying that one or two characters that aren’t focused on romance would be nice.
Now I am not trying to hate on “chick-flicks,” romance, or people that had a romantic life in high school. I just want it to be known that it’s okay to have never been kissed and it doesn’t make you a loser or mean you are a loser. All it means is there are other things in your life that you deem to be more important or you want your first kiss to be super special, and that’s okay.