I have a Zelda charm hanging from my purse. You know, the kind they used to make for cell phones and which would be hanging from my cell phone if they made those little bars to tie them from anymore. Nowadays you have to get a cell phone plug, but that’s not really my point. It’s that I have a Legend of Zelda charm hanging off my purse and while the fan-girl inside me goes squee, the girl gamer inside me raises an eyebrow. Because it’s not Link. It is, in fact, Zelda. And my girl gamer side goes, “You have a princess on your purse, an object you swore you would never use in the first place since you can stuff you phone and cash in your pocket, and now you have adorned it with a pink, blonde, skirted thing.” Yup. I do indeed. And, actually, I’m rather proud of it.
To the masses of uneducated in the ways of LoZ, it would appear I am a rather normal mom-type who has made the unfortunate choice of hanging a toy from her purse. To those who recognize who is hanging from my purse a little mind game ensues. Either they see me as a girl who maybe plays some video games but likes only the “girly” things in video games, or they recognize that I have a figure from The Minish Cap.
The first opinion means that they see me a less of a gamer and more of a “girl”, and not in the good way. They see someone who likes pink, likes princesses, and probably can’t hold her own in a fight. These are the people who still use “fight like a girl”, “run like a girl” and all those other ridiculous insults that really mean simply they are stuck in the past, can’t recognize the strength and ability women have, and would probably refuse to play with girls on their team in a video game and then be seriously offended when one pwns them.
On on the flip side, you have those who know where my mascot comes from. I get a nod for having a character from a clever game, a game where you have to be smart to play well. I get a nod for liking Legend of Zelda, for liking being smart, clever, a strategic fighter, a puzzle solver. I get a nod for the fact that this particular Zelda is not from one of the big name LoZ games; for liking one of the more obscure LoZ games; for being a true fan-girl, not just a casual fan. But I lose some cred for having Zelda as my mascot of choice. I place myself in with the girls who play video games, but prefer Princess Peach to Mario and Luigi, refusing to identify with anyone but the girls in a game. There’s sort of a knee jerk reaction of “oh…she likes Zelda….”
And here’s the thing. I have probably bought into and propagated both of those opinions myself. I am sure I have disparaged girls who casually game, or girls who prefer the female characters in a game where the main characters were boys, especially if it was a princess who had to be rescued. But I have changed and grown throughout the years and become more accepting of the myriad ways of being that girls are. And I have given up more and more the idea that you have to be a tomboy to be cool. But beyond all that lies this: If you thought that Zelda was a pea-princess who needs a man to save her, and that she has no power, ability, smarts or worth other than as a goal for Link, you couldn’t be more wrong. As the series has grown, so has Zelda. She is the holder of the triforce of wisdom. We could just stop there. The wisest character in the LoZ series is a girl. But it gets better. Zelda has been the leader of a pirate band, the wielder of the arrows of light, the masked warrior, and the savior of Hyrule through self-sacrifice on more than one occasion. Zelda fights in the way that only she can. Do you play her thought the game? No. You get to play as Link and I love that. I love who he is and how he grows and how he fights. But Zelda is no pushover. Actually, if you look at the games as a whole there is a collection of strong women who the fan base love. So Zelda wears pink or purple. So she usually has blonde hair. Honestly? It doesn’t even matter. Sure, I wish her final Windwaker wasn’t wrapped in Barbie-pink glowing ribbons in Hyrule Warriors and yes, it makes me enjoy that weapon less because of how it looks, but guess what? I’m a girl! I like things to be aesthetically pleasing! And that right there amuses me to no end.
Still, if you saw my figure dangling from my purse, you would have no idea of the true reason and meaning behind her. You see, she has nothing to do with the game, or my favorite character, or my opinion on girl warriors, or even my favorite color. She hangs there because of my boys. Confused? That makes me very happy, though if you’re a gamer mom you might also be wearing a smile right now, ’cause you can see where this is going. As moms, we tend to do things for our kids we could never do for ourselves. We can’t buy ourselves stuff, or make ourselves stuff or do stuff for ourselves that would come off as frivolous or wasteful or selfish. As a fan-girl and girl gamer, I could never buy myself a mascot or dangler or charm. I could before I had kids, but not after. I can’t let myself be accused of wasting the family’s funds on myself. Like ever. You get one person saying that one time, and it echoes in the back of your head forever. Every time you look at a new book, think about buying yourself a new lip balm, rip a hole in your jeans, you hear that echo. So when they had LoZ mascot figures for sale in random pouches, I bought some. Not for me. For the boys. See I have taught them well and they both like LoZ. I had no problem making my fan-girl and mom side happy by buying a couple for my boys.
When the boys excitedly tore into them, the eldest ended up with Link with a gust jar (very happy), the youngest got Vaati (but mom if you ever find Link with a Sword, could you get home for me? (Spoiler: yes and done)), there was a repeat Vaati (best friend got him), and then there was Zelda. So because I was trying to make my boys happy, I now wear a character from my favorite game on my purse. And even though Zelda is not the character I would have picked for myself, she makes me smile. Because as soon as she came out of the package the boys gave her to me.