This is an opinion piece about my thoughts on Effy’s portrayal. I reveal some personal things about my life in this. Because I think it’s important in understanding my feelings. If anyone wants to talk to me about any of this send me an ask.
I normally try my best not to write opinion pieces. I much rather attempt to interpret. However this is a topic I have a hard time being impartial on.
I have said this before I have no issues with Effy’s character on a whole, but instead the way in which they chose to portray certain things about Effy. The story of a teenager dealing with depression or a psychological disorder is a wonderful idea. Many teenagers suffer from depression or have a psychological disorder especially bipolar disorder. That is a story that is worth telling and a story that has the potential to support many teenagers. To have their story told in such a way could be the thing to get them the help they need and the attention they deserve.
When it comes to depression, self-harm, and suicide there is always this underlying layer of romanticism. Celebrities who self-destruct we watch with abated breath as if they exist to entertain us both on screen/stage and in their personal life. There are also tons of blogs dedicated to suicide and self-harm that may help or hurt people depending on the personality of the individual. The Emo culture in general has created a world in which cutting yourself is gorgeous and depression in general is a way to get attention. Lately we have been taught there is beauty in the breakdown and that people don’t matter until they are harming themselves or dead. This topic hits me hard. I lost one of my dear friends to suicide. I have seen one of my friends hold a knife over her wrists as I tried to wrestle her to the ground. I have also seen my friend before she was diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder laugh maniacally as she almost crashed her car into a poll with me in the passenger seat trying to calm her. None of those moments were beautiful. My friends are beautiful. Those moments though and the moments before my friends got help weren’t beautiful. They were scary. They were sad. They were tragic. They were helpless. They lost control. They lost themselves. One of them I lost and didn’t even realize I could lose him. The others the only thing I could do was take them in my arms and say “I love you” over and over and over again. Until both of them got the help they needed. I got permission to tell you those things, because I think it is important for you to know this as I explain why it is I have issues with the way Effy is portrayed.
They could have made Effy follow the same plot line with some minor differences and I would have gone along with it without complaint. However they decided to sex up a story of a girl who desperately needed help. I was watching Generation 2 with one of those two friends several months ago. I started to ask her questions about Effy and she basically said that if she watched this when she was fifteen she is not sure if she would take her meds. I asked her more about it and she said, “No matter what is wrong with you. Whether it is normal teenage issues, bipolar disorder, or anything else. Everyone wants to be wanted. Even if its unhealthy. Effy is wanted. She is wanted by many. She seems like she can control the world even though she cannot control herself. She leaves people wanting. Who doesn’t want to leave people wanting?” I thought about this and the truth is I had no answer, because when you are a teenage girl you do want to be wanted. You want the guy you like to notice you. You want to make another girl jealous. No matter how tom boyish you are there is always that part that wants to be seen as a desirable woman. Effy is desired…yet Effy needs help…but Effy has everything most teenage girls want.
Then when I got more involved in the Skins fandom. I began to notice things about those who love Effy. Now of course there are the fans who genuinely love Effy and see Effy for what she is. Who see something in Effy that helped them through depression or made them learn something about themselves. If that is the case then that is awesome. That is what I want Effy to represent and what I want girls to see. However there are too many Effy lovers who worship Effy and want to be exactly like her. Who want some guy to take care of them as they self-destruct, who want to be detached from this world, and who see Effy as absolutely gorgeous…they want to be her. This worries me. It worries my friends.
All the while Effy who uses her sexuality to control and to feel something plays two best friends against one another. They both go after Effy along with JJ. Effy using them and them using her in ways. I’m not saying the feelings aren’t genuine. I believe they were, but just because feelings are genuine does not mean it is any less toxic or any less destructive. When I see the Effy/Freddie/Cook triangle all I see are three people who do not know how to save themselves and are instead escaping in one another in a beautiful sex off. Others may see it differently and that is totally fine but that is how I see it.
Effy has a story to tell and some people really need to hear that story. I just think that along the way her story got distorted by the way the story was told. I cannot find myself to enjoy Effy, because she represents many things in this world that I want to change. She also reminds me of topics that are too close to home.
Again this is only my opinion. See what you see in Effy and never let anyone take that away from you. Especially if you found solace in Effy. I; however, cannot find solace in Effy. I find myself worried.