Postfeminist Kidults


Cosmopolitan Article “What Does It Mean to Be an Adult? (April 2013)


(The article discusses both Zooey Deschanel and Mindy Kaling)


The article discusses the new idea of adulthood in our society, “[it] used to be simple. You finished school, got hitched, and pregnant, moved out to the ‘burbs and bam! —you were a grown-up.” Now, however the characters (and actors playing them) are not strictly going down this road. To put a stop to the nagging fertility questions, Jess on New Girl, uses her “quirk” to provide ample reason of her own irresponsibility.


Mindy on The Mindy Project has a stable and successful career as an ob-gyn, yet her life is pretty much a hot-mess. She doesn’t seem very stable in her personal life and is more like a “kidlike adult” with “Hunger Games– themed checks and [who] eats cereal out of wine glasses.”


Both of these women embody the “postfeminism heroine.” They are “vital, youthful, and playful (Tasker and Negra).” Just as Jenna from 13 Going on 30 is rewarded for her adolescent psychology, audiences love Mindy and Jess for being “kidults.”


However, the world of postfeminism is also surrounded by consumerism and sex, commonly explained by Sex and the City. Carrie shows her “girl power” by using her income to buy expensive shoes. She and her friends are known for their frank conversations about sex, pushing the power they have. In fact, about 90% of the show, the women are buying clothes, talking about fashion, or talking about sex. Fashion is used as a key to the postfeminist world, the women are able to spend there money wherever they like, and in Carrie’s case, that being extremely expensive shoes.


In comparison, some aspects of New Girl and The Mindy Project, challenges these beliefs. In The Mindy Project, Mindy attempts to prove her power by having hook-ups with her British co-worker, but she ends up feeling worse about herself than before. She is not able to find the “girl power” that Sex and the City portrays after any of the four women find a hook-up, albeit, Carrie refuses to have a one-night stand when she is trying to prove her self-worth to herself, unlike Mindy.


Jess is definitely not seen as a sex symbol, she does not wear the traditional clothes or dance like a shot girl. She does not gain her power through a postfeminist way. Her clothes are more conservative and old-fashioned than provocative and expensive. On the other hand, this complicates things because she is “maintain[ing] a youthful appearance and attitude,” so she fits within some postfeminist guidelines. She may not be the sex symbol as the characters on Sex and the City, but she does hold on to some postfeminist qualities.


Zooey Deschanel is very similar to the character of Jess; she is well-known for her ultra-feminine clothes, nail art, and quirky personality. She is co-founder of the website Hello Giggles, which the article thinks, “sounds like something a third grader might doodle.” When she was in the process of getting a divorce, her finances became public knowledge, and she was shown that she does not spend that much on clothes per month. Just like Jess, Zooey she has some qualities of postfeminism, but not all.


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