Before Mr. Big, was there only a big nose, big fashion mistakes, bad boys and bad perms? It was recently announced that Candace Bushnell, whose New York Observer column inspired the hit television show Sex and the City, was working on a couple of young adult novels featuring a high-school-age Carrie Bradshaw. HarperCollins, the publisher of Bushnell’s teen books (working title, “The Carrie Diaries”), to be released in 2010, says they will show “an inside look at Carrie’s friendships, romances, and how she realized her dream of becoming a writer.”
The show itself never went into detail about what Carrie was like before moving to New York. We know only that her father left—and that she lost her virginity, in Grade 11, in a “smelly rec room” after smoking a joint.
Bushnell, whose latest book, the novel One Fifth Avenue, was published this fall, obviously doesn’t need help writing. But that hasn’t stopped her many female fans from weighing in with their own opinions on what Carrie Bradshaw would have been like as a teenager. Every woman, it seems, could write their own Carrie Diaries.
Toronto mommy-blogger Laural Adams is a huge Sex and the City fan. She thinks teen Carrie would have been nothing like adult Carrie. “I have always pictured her as the girl who never quite fit in. I think she was probably the ugly duckling who had curly hair she couldn’t control, wore clothes that didn’t quite go together. I don’t imagine she was the kind of girl who was picked on. I picture her more as the girl who was in the ‘B’ group, the girl who had friends in the popular group but didn’t hang out with them at parties.”
Adams thinks she would have been on the school newspaper and yearbook committee. “I’m guessing she would have gone for guys who were bad poets or had some weird flaw, but were sweet and kind. And she probably had enormous crushes on guys who were totally gorgeous and unattainable at the time.”
Lori Mastronardi, a writer for the popular lifestyle website Sweetspot.ca, isn’t sure if Carrie was cool from the start or if she grew into her style-savvy ways. “My guess? She had unruly, frizzy hair. Probably one bad perm after another. Still, she worked ’80s trends like she should have been on the pages of Sassy, probably went a little overboard, and did it all on a limited dime.” She would have been insecure about “the mole on her chin, the shape of her nose, and the size of her hair.”
Leesa Butler, founder of the fashion website the F-List, agrees that a young Bradshaw would have been conscious of both her hair and nose. “But she might have been the first girl to discover the one woman in town who could wax a young girl’s eyebrows into the shape of a woman’s,” says Butler. “She would have prided herself on being the keeper of this knowledge, as she loved to be the one in the know. She was also eager to grow beyond high school. She might have felt the world was far too glamorous and interesting to be chained to a school desk.” Style-wise, “she would have been the only one in her school to wear clothes found at Goodwill and the back of her grandma’s closet.” Bottom line, she wouldn’t have been afraid of trying different fashions, says Butler. “Her classmates might have thought she was weird for that. But she didn’t care. Early on, fashion was the one area in which she realized she could express herself.”
Butler imagines Carrie as “the baby” of the family, and that if she did have siblings they were much older. “She had little in common with her family and grows apart from them later in life.” Christine Faulhaber, of Faulhaber PR, pictures the teenage Carrie as “bookish.” “Glasses and her frizz were out of control. She didn’t think of herself as a beauty, but didn’t think it mattered. She gained confidence because she was smart and had personality. She worked with what she had. She was a great mix of high and low. Cool and nerdy friends. Drama class and English lit.”
Not everyone wants to imagine Bradshaw as a teenager, however. Ceri Marsh, the editor of Fashion magazine, says that for her, “one of the genius things about Sex and the City was that it didn’t dwell on anyone’s family or background. Those girls created themselves in New York, not in their adolescence.” She may be right. Personally though, I can’t wait to meet the young Carrie Bradshaw, frizzy hair and all.
Rebecca Eckler is the author of the YA novel Rotten Apple, recently released by Random House.