I have a vivid memory of playing on the playground during recess as a 5-year-old in kindergarten. A group of kids, including myself, were playing pretend as the Power Rangers. I remember insisting that I be the Pink Power Ranger. It didn't matter how many boys wanted to be the Blue Ranger, or how many girls fought over the Yellow Ranger. I was the Pink Ranger.
I had it all, from the dolls to the Valentine's Day cards that said, "Valentine, I get a kick out of you," with a picture of The Pink Ranger mid-kick.
But what was it about Kimberly that really had me so obsessed?
Well, to start, she was like me.
I was always considered too outspoken, too opinionated. I was a know-it-all. My first grade teacher told my parents, "Well, she tries to help the other children, but she just ends up being condescending." And that's a direct quote; just ask my mom.
The teacher said this, not because I was trying to be rude, but because I understood a concept my fellow classmates could not. And while I understood whatever math problem it was that I was trying to explain, I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that I could understand a concept while someone else could hear the same information and feel completely lost.
Kimberly (aka the Pink Ranger) always had her opinions, held onto them and didn't let anyone push her around for them.
And then there was that whole, do-gooder attitude for the sake of the universe.
When I was all of about 6 or 7 years old, I remember asking one of the older girls in my neighborhood if she would drive me and a friend to Home Depot so we could make body armor and defend the neighborhood. Oh, yes, I was dead serious.
But if Kimberly could do it, so could I.
And then there were all the times I was alone in my backyard pretending I was the one to save the universe and feeling that sense of pride and accomplishment that I had once again defeated the bad guy, which was really just a piece of wood I would whack to death with some stick or another that I found laying around.
I couldn't have put my finger on it at the time, but looking back now, I understand that Kimberly empowered me. She helped me to know that it was OK that I was different. It was OK that I had opinions others may not agree with. It was OK that I was outspoken and sometimes "bossy."
I didn't really grow up with any concept of feminism or sexism. I don't think I even understood those words except in the context of a history book and the brief looks we would have at the suffrage movement.
But, thinking back on it, I could always relate to the idea.
And Kimberly was my inspiration to keep on doing me. She made me feel like, despite what other people said, I could be a superhero. I could save the day. I could make a difference.
She helped to shape me into the empowered woman I am today, the woman who has opinions and speaks her mind even when some people may not like it. (And, trust me, as a writer on a public forum, a lot of people often don't like it.) But Kimberly taught me from a young age that I am worth it. That we are all worth it, despite our backgrounds, our education, our gender, our sexuality or our ethnicity. We can all be superheroes in our own right. And that's a character worthy of the "superhero" title.
Of course, if I were to watch the same show I watched as a child, I would be rolling my eyes at the cheese doled out in healthy helpings. No doubt, the new Power Rangers movie coming out won't be the same because I am no longer a wide-eyed 5-year-old. But just because I've replaced my Pink Ranger mask with a pink pussy hat doesn't take away from the fact that I'm still that girl, striving to save the world because Kimberly showed me it was possible.
Power Rangers hits theaters on March 24.
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