If I was to go on Mastermind, my specialist subject would be Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, the 90s TV show.
I’ve watched all seven series so many times that my DVDs are so worn and some of them no longer work. I have the comic books, dolls house, books, board games, annuals and collectible cards to match.
If you haven’t judged me yet for being: a) weird, b) sad, or c) both, my next act of fandom won’t come as too much of a surprise.
I had decided that I wanted a Sabrina, The Teenage Witch tattoo a year or so ago. It was a sunny Sunday, I’d just ordered a ton of Sabrina merchandise on Ebay and had playing in the background some of the later series of the show.
Post-college, Sabrina pursues her dream career of journalism and in some episodes is faced with a crucial editorial existential crisis. At one point, she has to make the decision to either write celebrity-focused, showbiz-style articles that will secure her financially, or follow her dreams and write from the heart (for peanuts) about subjects she feels passionate about.
A decade after watching that episode for the first time, here I was trying to launch my own career in journalism, attempting to report honestly and accurately about tattoos in contrast to the often vulgar and ‘click-bait’ way in which the majority of the media reacts to our artistic industry.
Yep, my moment of enlightenment was telling me that after all these years I was my childhood idol.
OK, maybe not. But perhaps we were pretty similar.
As a contemplative, over-analytical person who tries to extract lessons at every turning point in life, it’s no surprise that I was obsessed with a TV show in which each series presents an important moral lesson for the central character. Especially in the first three series, the naive and impulsive teenage witch spends the last few minutes of each episode personally reflecting upon what she has learnt, where she went wrong, and what truly are the important things in life.
As bloggers, this is what we do with each post, and what I am doing now… making a reflection on one of life’s episodes, attempting to make sense of the outside world and its impact on each moment of my journey.
Sabrina was such an idol for me growing up because she sent out such great messages for any kid:
- F*ck the bullies. Who wants to be part of a crowd, anyway? Embrace your weirdness and create your own group of misfits if you ever feel excluded. Fitting in is overrated.
- Family is priceless. You’ll fall out, you’ll fight, you’ll grow apart, but they’ll always be there and always know you more than you know yourself.
- Work hard, dream big, follow your dreams. Even as a young teenager Sabrina has really focused career and higher education goals and doesn’t let anything, especially not boys, get in the way.
- No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, have regrets and do things out of character. Learn, move on and don’t beat yourself up about it.
The metaphor of magic within the show is what makes it so special for me. The concept of being able to utilise our own internal powers to change our external environments and personal circumstances is an uplifting and inspiring message. It’s why I have always had an interest in witchcraft and magic myself – we each have a force within us that can drive us to follow our dreams, channel positivity and change our lives for the better, if we choose to summon it.
This television show clearly had, and still has, a huge impact on my personality and interests. What better way way to summarise my adoration for it than with a tattoo of a cat hiding within a stack of pancakes?
You heard me right.
Here’s Salem Saberhagen (voiced by actor Nick Bakay) in Series 3, Episode 5: Pancake Madness, now in tattoo form made by one of my favourite artists of all time, Paula Castle…
I recently wrote about pop culture tattoos for a feature in Skin Deep Magazine, and worked with three tattoo artists to explore the reasons why someone would choose to get something as bonkers as this on their skin forever.
My conclusion was that we develop obsessions with fictional worlds because, more often than not, they’re better than our own.
I now realise that what actually makes a fictional world truly magical, is when it makes you fall in love with your own reality again.
Update 4 March 2016:
Well, at least Salem and Harvey approve. My life is now complete.
Update 18 March 2017:
Since writing this article over a year ago, I have had the odd Twitter conversation with Nick Bakay, aka Sabrina’s loveable and mischievous cat Salem.
After giving his wife some needed tattoo advice Mr Bakay sent me these unbelievably generous signed gifts in the post. To say I was excited when Royal Mail handed me a package labelled ‘sender, Nick Bakay, California’ would be an understatement.
My postman may think I am cray-cray, but me and Salem are just, like, so BFFs now so s’all good.
I will cherish these more than Nick will ever know.
Words: Beccy Rimmer
Photos: Various, as credited