Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, recently wrote on her website that she worries about her daughters growing up in a “skinny-obsessed world”, stating that she doesn’t want them to grow up to become “empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones.”

“Let my girls be Hermiones,” she declared, referring to the brainy female character from the Harry Potter novels.

Rowling has two daughters, Mackenzie, age 1, and Jessica, age 12.

I think Rowling has gone a long way towards making it easier for girls to break out from rigid social stereotypes by creating her character, Hermione. Basically, Hermione is easy to admire. But, lest Rowling forgets, even Hermione gave in to cultural whims regarding an idealized appearance for females when she allowed Hermione straighten her hair and shrink her teeth before going to the ball in Book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2002).

(The story).

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Included with the Harry Potter Carnival issue 12.


  1. #1 Tabor
    April 7, 2006

    I’d probably empathize if Hermione weighed 30 pounds more, had frizzy hair that she was always trying to fix, and didn’t have impeccable English…she could still stay smart though.

  2. #2 Alon Levy
    April 7, 2006

    Besides, it’s ironic that Emma Watson is very much a product of the skinny-obsessed world – just consider how she looks when she’s not in the movie. The picture of her back in 2002 with makeup that probably weighed more than she did was one of the more revolting pictures I’ve seen.

  3. #3 sara
    April 7, 2006

    I love that new Pink song and video, ‘Stupid Girls’, which has great social commentary on how everyone, even the smart girls, are getting increasingly forced to dumb down to the blond bimbo level.

  4. #4 Leah
    April 8, 2006

    Sara — I totally hear you. And even when we’re not dumbing ourselves down, people do it for us. I’ve got brown hair, and my friends are always saying “oh, your blonde is showing!” whenever I do something that wasn’t perfectly intelligent. Heaven forbid the jokes that happen when I’m out in the sun and get some highlights. I get so frustrated with being a girl sometimes, especially since I work in a place that is 95% male (at a baseball stadium for now, until I start grad school this fall).

  5. #5 Karmen
    April 8, 2006

    Tabor–your description is exactly what I pictured in Hermione when I first read the books. When I saw the movie, I was disappointed in how clean cut she looked.

    Sarah and Leah, and anyone else who might be interested–check out the 80s song “Typical Girls”: here’s the lyrics and a good article on the band who did it: ” “Typical Girls” is a left-field classic, an angular, reggaeish number featuring singsongy vocals, blues guitar and jittery piano played… a hilarious putdown of female conformity”

  6. #6 Osame Kinouchi
    April 8, 2006

    Consider working with parrots here in Brazil. we have a lot of postdoctoral positions and parrots!

  7. #7 coturnix
    April 8, 2006

    If I were a teen I’d be madly in love with Hermione. I always had a thing for geeky girls with glasses.

  8. #8 GrrlScientist
    April 8, 2006

    i think you are mixing up Hermione with Harry. Harry is the one witrh glasses!


  9. #9 GrrlScientist
    April 8, 2006

    and for you “blonde bimbo” commenters .. don’t forget that i am blonde, naturally (no one with any brains would CHOOSE to be blonde, that’s for sure).

  10. #10 Alon Levy
    April 9, 2006

    Lindsay Beyerstein’s a blonde by choice, if I remember correctly…

    By the way, don’t mind the different IP – I’m not in Singapore for the week.

  11. #11 Barrett Hindman
    November 29, 2006

    Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen reportedly signs a $42.5m (£22m) film deal starring his character Bruno…

  12. #12 Zechariah Benton
    December 4, 2006

    Pop trio Atomic Kitten will reform to play a concert in support of jailed Liverpool football fan Michael Shields…

  13. #13 Eddie Stovall
    December 5, 2006

    Doctor Who takes three prizes at the National Television Awards in a repeat of its success last year…

  14. #14 Hudson Stanford
    December 6, 2006

    Singer George Michael lends the piano on which John Lennon wrote Imagine to an anti-war exhibition…

  15. #15 Damian Martz
    December 13, 2006

    Jonathan Ross is dubbed "risque" by Ofcom but not in breach of rules over an interview with David Cameron…

  16. #16 Simon Barber
    February 10, 2007

    I Like Hermione Because she is so cute.

  17. #17 Simon Barber
    February 10, 2007

    I would Like Hermione to Be My GirlFriend And I want to know all about her.

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