Effy Stonem was the only role model we’ve ever needed
Be honest, you still want to be her
Kaya Scodelario, the actress who played Effy Stonem in Skins, turned 24 this week. That makes us practically the same age, and it also made me realise Effy, throughout my formative years, was pretty much the best role model me or any other twenty-something girl could have had.
On her birthday Twitter was flooded with dippy girls messaging Kaya’s account “thanking her for Effy”. Yeah, to be fair, she’s doing Maze Runner now and that must be really annoying, but it mustn’t be discounted that as Effy, she was basically a deity.
As a teenager, Effy was basically the zenith of coolness. Everyone wanted to have Skins parties, everyone wanted to be her (or get with her, which only made people want to be her more). Even at her worst hormonal-bipolar-druggy-drama-queen moments she was unflappable. Maybe she was supposed to be a cautionary tale, but she made everything look glamorous, and that was the dream.
Can anyone honestly say they didn’t envy her strangely drugged-up exciting life in inexplicably dangerous but protected Bristolian suburbia? Can anyone really pretend they didn’t buy a black leather jacket and try to get a boyfriend as fit as Freddie, before realising that boys who still liked skateboarding that much in sixth form were actually just really weird?
No, because Effy was the dream. She was the reason I tried (and failed, miserably) to be silent and mysterious and aloof before ending up more of a Chatty-Cathy Pandora. Effy could glide through her implausible, OTT teenage angst without (too many) negative side-effects. Sure, her boyfriend got murdered, and the boy she cheated on him with was being hunted by the law, and she didn’t get to sit her A Levels because she “went mad”, but it all turned out OK in the end.
She was effortlessly stylish
She was the reason I wore too much eye make-up and tried to master the art of having cigarettes in all my Facebook photos without pissing off my mum. Effy’s style, on anyone else (trust me, I’ve tried) would look pretty shit. Nobody can really pull off braids past 12 years old, nobody can realistically wear blue fishnets with knickers over them to the first day of sixth form. It was pretty impossible to replicate, but that didn’t stop everyone from trying.
Type her name into YouTube and you’ll be inundated with make-up tutorials. At the time, and still to this day, I can’t understand how she could pull off a knee-sock-Doc-Marten-combo any more than I understand how me trying to channel that style ended up less nu-romantic-goth-girl-with-problems and more just me in a “NU RAVE” luminous t-shirt from Topshop. But regardless, she’s still the reason I wore way too much eyeliner for way too long and treasure a leather biker jacket I bought at 14 that’s now falling apart at the seams.
She took no shit
Effy’s speeches, though few and far between, were pretty legendary. She was scathing, but not a complete fucking bitch like Katie Fucking Fitch. Her one liners and intense eye-contact could cut anyone deeper than being blocked on Facebook or removed from someone’s Bebo top 16 or whatever else we did when we were pubescent and immature. It’s something I’ve been trying to master since she finally started speaking at the end of Series Two – but all I’ve nailed so far is a withering eye roll and she would realistically see right through that.
She went to the best parties
Effy was attending better house-parties at 17 than any of us are now. What was her secret? What is there to it except for religiously checking Resident Advisor? All of Effy’s wild nights seemed so effortless.
There was never an excellently framed montage in Skins where the gang hung around outside an offy to get someone to get served for them. In fact, they never bought pre-drinks at all. They never hung around in a shit kitchen after dropping their endless pills, wondering if they should take another because nobody’s come up yet. She never argued with a taxi driver, or ran out of fags just after the big Tesco’s round the corner closed. Everything was perfectly in place for a biggie. And she always strolled home in the early morning perfecting the walk of shame in a way I have never been able to.
Maybe things will be better when the night Tube comes in. That’s what I’m holding out for.
For a sixth form boyfriend, Freddie McClair was out of this world. He had a skateboard, he dressed well, he was really, really fit, and he actually liked Effy more than anyone has ever liked a girl at their school. Fair enough, he ended up dead, and admittedly that’s a drawback, but at least they had fun while he was alive.
Plus, while most of us were trying to have sex really really quietly on sofas with our parents in the other room, Effy and Freddie created a nihilistic lovenest out of her WHOLE house. Goals.
She didn’t peak too soon
Effy started being mysterious and cute and dangerous when she was about 11. I knew girls like that at school. One of them seemed like the coolest girl in the world because she hid some weed in her locker in Year Eight, but by sixth form she’d left and joined a troubled kids employment programme – so peaking too soon and fucking everything up is a very real concern. But magically, Effy was fine even though she lived in the woods for a while when she should have been worrying about UCAS. Instead she smartened up and stayed fit and rich with a nice flat in central London and impossibly glossy hair. And yes, she kind of fucked up at that point, but she had a kind of good run. Which is all we can ever hope for.
As shit as it got, it all ended up OK
Is it realistic? No. But Effy represented something exciting for every girl of a certain age – the idea that you could be as exciting as that, and get away with it. You could probably do heroin, cheat religiously, get kicked out of your posh public school, throw endless parties in your mum’s house when she fucks off to Italy, magically get three As in the exams you didn’t sit, fuck off to London and get a very well-paid job in banking – and reduce your eventual prison sentence just by being enigmatic.