Brian Littrell is still one of the top boy band crushes of all time. Image Credit: Flickr/Joella Marano
I love the entire family, but Tina Belcher is, by far, my most favorite character on Fox’s Bob’s Burgers. When I began binge-watching the show several months ago, I was highly disappointed to learn she is voiced by a male actor. But her character is just too great to dismiss based on the problematic casting.
Tina is perfectly awkward, she knows what she likes and wants, and her trademark “Uuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhh” never gets old. (Even as I type this, I can hear her voice in various situations. Hilarious.)
Other than horses, zombies, and butts, her primary fixation is on boys. Throughout the show, her main crush is on Jimmy Jr., the son of her father’s arch nemesis, Jimmy Pesto. But she likes boys as a whole. A lot.
Many of us can relate to that. I feel as though I’ve been in perpetual swoon mode since I was about 10 years old, magnified by the fact that I like more than just boys.
And if you grew up in the U.S. during the pop/boy band resurgence of the late 90s/early 2000s (or the 80s), then you especially know all about celebrity crushes. (Brian Littrell is still my favorite Backstreet Boy.)
Except for celebrity “freebie” lists, once we start approaching 30 (or are over that threshold), celebrity crushes can seem...childish. Forever regulated to our hormonal tween memories. So what do you do when you can't seem to escape that phase? And what does it mean?
I’m about seven months away from turning 30 myself. In many ways, I am very much “all grown up.” I can make decisions about my health and related care. I know how to cook and bake, clean, and do laundry (even if I’m not always great at keeping up with those things). While I don’t have a “traditional” job, I can and do work. I can evaluate my own needs and safety. These are just some of the things that, growing up, I understood meant one had successfully made it to adulthood.
Celebrity crushes come just as easy to me at 29 as they did when I was 13, yet now they make me feel out of place. Like I don’t belong in the big kids’ pool.
But in other ways, I feel stunted. I live with my mom. Although I work, I have very limited income right now. I have never been in a relationship, though I have been on dates. And, to this day, I still swoon. I have written previously about my crushes on Michael B. Jordan and Matthew Gray Gubler, but they are far from the only ones.
When I first began crushing on Jordan, I was 26. One of the first things I thought to myself, as I write in my Black Girl Dangerous essay, was that I was getting “too old for this.” Thinking someone – celebrity or not – is cute is one thing. But I was pining and obsessing, trapped in Tina Belcher mode. I figured I’d start to grow out of it, but it hasn’t let up.
Here is a list of some of the celebrities I’ve crushed on since MBJ, in no particular order:
Matthew Gray Gubler
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
So I can’t help but wonder: what does this say about me? Am I emotionally immature? Do I need (more) therapy? Am I “damaged” in some way? Is it hormonal?
I think about the many ways I’ve grown over the years. There are several tools that I can use to measure my emotional maturity:
I can listen attentively to others. While it’s a continuous learning process, I can communicate my feelings, needs, and boundaries to myself and others. Though it does hurt, I can handle rejection (romantic, professional, platonic, etc.).
Celebrity crushes come just as normal to me at 29 as they did when I was 13, yet now they make me feel out of place. Like I don’t belong in the big kids’ pool.
So I ask myself: maybe it’s not me, but society? Maybe society has these sometimes arbitrary markers of maturity and adulthood, and maybe it’s okay if we don’t check them all off? It doesn’t make us any less mature or “grown up?” (See all the online fervor around adults playing Pokemon Go.) And that self-reassurance helps me feel a bit better about where I am right now.
That is, until I oscillate right back over to that first set of questions, ruminating over all the ways I must be doing adulting wrong.
I’m honestly not too sure what perpetual celebrity crushes at 30 means, if anything. Right now I’m not in therapy, so I don’t have a professional to help me get to the bottom of this conundrum (if there’s anything to it in the first place). Perhaps it’s something I can explore in the near future.
But I do know what feels right, what feels “okay.” I could be wrong.
But for all the things adults have to concern ourselves with on a daily basis, I feel like puzzling over “How much of an adult am I, really?” shouldn’t have to be one of them.