What Lara Jean means to me

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It’s been a few months since To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before hit Netflix and I’m still in love with it. I’ve probably seen it at least 10 times (I watch it about once a week). I’m currently listening to the soundtrack while writing this blog post.

I’ve never felt this way about a character before. I remember when I first read the book back in January of 2016. It was the first time I read a book and was like So this is what representation feels like. Lara Jean is half Korean and half white. I am half Filipino and half white. To see and read about a character that was also half and half, was life changing. I related to so many little aspects of Lara Jean’s life. Like the fact that we both hate driving (fun fact: I still do).

I remember people had criticisms about Lara Jean and said that she was “childish.” I never thought that because she was totally me in high school. Being more “innocent” is not a bad thing. I personally think it’s kind of an Asian girl thing. I think a lot (but obviously not all) Asian girls are a bit more innocent than other girls and that is totally okay. I love that Lara Jean normalizes this innocence.

I read the sequel immediately afterwards and fell in love with Lara Jean even more. The third book came out when I was a Senior in college and I didn’t want the book to end because I didn’t want to leave Lara Jean and her story. I was too attached.

Then I got into law school and the weekend before school started, the movie came out on Netflix and took Lara Jean to a whole new level. I loved Lara Jean in the books, but movie Lara Jean was exactly what I needed.

It was crazy to see an Asian American female lead character in a movie. And not just any movie, a movie that everyone was obsessed with. My heart swelled with Asian pride. Who would have thought that Lara Jean would have this kind of impact?

As much as I related to book Lara Jean, movie Lara Jean is literally me right now. And that is what makes her so special to me.

Lara Jean gives me hope. Hope that the shy Asian girl can get the hot guy. That Asian girls are not invisible. That we can get our own Peter Kavinsky. That we don’t need to be like every other white female lead in a rom-com. We are enough just the way we are. And that is the most powerful thing of all.

Just think about it. When have you ever seen a female lead like her?

Lara Jean inspired me this semester and is literally the reason why I’m getting through law school okay. I will often ask myself, What would Lara Jean do?, whenever I find myself in an awkward situation. I even had a crush on a gorgeous boy this semester and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I wrote him a letter (that I never ended up giving to him and never will because he dropped out of school).

Flashback to just last week on Halloween. Nobody in my section dressed up at school except for me and this one other Asian girl. And guess who we were? Lara Jean. I was wearing her airport outfit and she was wearing LJ’s party outfit. Another Asian girl (who first saw my outfit on my Instagram) commented on how much she loved my dressing up as LJ. Crazy what the power of representation can do. Lara Jean was just the second Asian character I have been for Halloween (the first being Mulan). I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in years (the last time was in 5th grade when I was a pirate) but I just had to because I finally had someone worth being.

Basically, Lara Jean is so important to me because she represents so much. She empowers and inspires us Asian girls. Thank you Jenny Han for creating her and sharing her with the world.

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Ponytail. Check. Sunglasses on top of head. Check. Necklace. Check. Striped sweater. Check. Skirt with buttons. Check. Too many feelings. Double check. Let’s do this.