Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think everyone has a certain number of unrequited crushes in his or her lifetime. If you’re a child of any relatively recent generation, your crushes (with the exception of that one girl in homeroom whose hair smelled like strawberry shampoo) are most likely the kind that came into your life electronically. You know, celebrity crushes. Musicians, TV stars, and other public figures dominated many of our romantic sensibilities as we grew up – particularly those of us who grew up in the fabled 1990s.
The list of names below constitutes 15 girls from the 90s that we all – admit it now – had crushes on. We cut their pictures out of magazines and smacked our brothers into silence when they came on TV.
(Incidentally, I don’t think crushes know gender boundaries or norms, and I use the word to refer to both “I want to marry that person” crushes and “I want to be that person’s BFF” – or even “I want to be that person, period!” Also included is everything in between. In other words, this is an equal opportunity 90s crush list!)
Without further ado, the heart-breakers of the 1990s list, in my validated opinion, is as follows.
1. Stephanie Tanner in Full House
The Olsen twins hadn’t yet reached puberty (or even coherency), and DJ was too much of a goody-goody. But let’s face it, once Steph got old enough to hang out with that hot Gina and start wearing vests and pedal pushers, we all wanted her to be our girlfriend, in whatever sense of the word you chose to use it.
2. Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All
Crazy cool outfits, absentee parents, and a hot neighbor boy climbing in her window on a regular basis. Clarissa didn’t just explain it all, she had it all.
3. Gwen Stefani from No Doubt
There was a certain amount of backlash from the green-eyed demons of jealousy when Gwen snagged Gavin Rossdale, the hottie singer of Bush. But her amazing abs and no-BS attitude made her lovable in spite of all the pain.
4. Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell
Sure, she was a high school student who looked older than most of our… um… older sisters. But her cute cheerleader outfits and perfect blowouts, combined with her squeaky clean reputation, make her a natural for after-school sighs and daydreams.
5. Stacey McGill from the Babysitters Club
Okay, so she’s a character from a book. That doesn’t limit her fantasy potential – in fact, it may just increase it. As we’re assured in multiple Babysitters Club Chapter Two summaries, Stacey has gorgeous permed blonde hair, sea-blue eyes, and totally dibble fashion sense. Also, she’s from New York (did she mention that every other page, or was it just me?)
6. Daria from Daria/ Beavis and Butthead
Yes, this one is serious. Maybe she’s more a focus for the girl-crushers who saw themselves as outside of the establishment, but plenty of guys who appreciated a razor-sharp tongue had the hots for this sarcastic chick. (Cartoon crushes count. So there.)
7. Jane from Daria
If Daria wasn’t your bag, maybe her best friend Jane, complete with angular black bob and skinny limbs laced into black hiking boots, was more your style. She’s the girl you wanted to be, or the girl you wished sat next to you (her hair probably smelled like strawberries, too).
8. Rachel from Friends
You saw this one coming, right? Between her trend-busting haircut and her teeny fitted tee shirts, Rachel – whether waitressing in the coffeehouse or bearing Ross’ child – was the sweet girl we all pined for. And then dated. And then pined for again. For several seasons.
9. Kat Stratford from Ten Things I Hate About You
“Heinous b****” or not, Kat Stratford was the epitome of cool. Gorgeous, Sarah Lawrence-bound, and not about to take any crap from anyone – including Heath Ledger – Kat was the girl we were all afraid to admit we adored, lest she beat us up.
10. Shirley Manson from Garbage
Unutterably cool, with dyed red hair and tight black outfits, and a purring voice that crept through the speakers like a tickle up your back, Shirley was defiant and talented. Everyone knew her name while being unable to remember, somehow, the names – much less the faces – of the rest of the band. Wait, there was a band behind her? Must have missed that.
11. Fiona Apple
We hated to admit it, but girls and boys alike got a little hot and bothered over the music video for “Criminal.” Slouching around in a crack den apartment in lingerie, the painfully skinny Fiona made vulnerability chic and heartbreak appealing. We don’t know how she did it. We just (shamefully) loved it.
12. Rose from Titanic
It wouldn’t be a 90s list without a Titanic reference, and Leo isn’t a girl (in spite of rumors to the contrary), so here we go, folks. To be fair, Rose completely deserves all the love she gets. Girls adored her because she made it okay – in fact, appealing – to be a little more zaftig than the average Hollywood string bean. Guys loved her because – well, she was (and is) absolutely stunning. Period clothing never looked so crush-worthy.
13. Topanga from Boy Meets World
She started out the early seasons with a crazy mop of hair and plenty of peasant dresses. As time passed, Topanga grew up… impressively so. The whip-smart, girl-proud, yet tender and feminine personality within the one-of-a-kind appearance held the basis of her unique appeal.
14. Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This one is easy. Who doesn’t love a blond cheerleader with a sharpened stake in her hand? Butt-kicking and complex, Buffy set the bar for female characters on prime time television. Thus far, the bar remains unchallenged.
15. Courtney Love
Are those crickets chirping? I can’t be alone in this one. Hello?