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Wilderness Girls Life Lessons From TROOP BEVERLY HILLS That Still Apply Today

When I was little, any time I’d get sick, I’d ask my mom to rent the same two movies over and over again. One was A Goofy Movie, which I still insist is one of the best musical comedies of the past 30 years. The other was Troop Beverly Hills, which was my first exposure to the 90120 zip code and a precocious redhead named Jenny Lewis.

At the beginning of December, the film was added to Netflix and after recently rewatching it, I’ve gotta say it still holds up! In between reciting most of the movie’s dialogue and fighting a killer craving for cookies, I was particularly struck by all the life lessons I took away from Phyllis Nefler and her troop of Wilderness Girls. I don’t think I’d be the stylish, sassy or self-empowered gal I am today without the introspective insight of this girl-power comedy.

And so, without further adieu, allow me to share some of the most powerful pieces of advice I learned from the classic 1989 flick.

When in doubt, dance it out. I love to bust out the running man or cabbage patch when I’m feeling frustrated. However, I’ve also been known to do the mashed potato in times of real mental turbulence. Sometimes, a burst of fancy footwork can be more life-affirming than a cup of chamomile tea. Amiright?


When it comes to ill-fitting apparel, the secret is tailoring. When you find that must-have piece of clothing and it fits wrong in all the right places, you don’t need to leave the store with your head in your hands. Instead, spend the extra cash and take it to a tailor. I can’t tell you how many jeans I’ve saved by raising the hem or reinforcing the crotch.


In the wilderness of life, you can never be too prepared. The older I get, the heavier my purse gets and I think that’s because I like to remain prepared for any situation that happens in the wild. And by “wild,” I mean any location that takes place outside of my apartment. Need a Band-Aid? I’ve got a Cynthia Rowley strip with your name on it! Got a jagged nail that needs smoothing? Lemme grab the file I keep in my wallet! Did someone drop a deuce in the bathroom at Jimmy John’s that’s curling the noise hairs in your snoz? Allow me to hand off this small vile of perfume that you can spray and make the lavatory smell like the beauty counter at Barney’s. I don’t call my handbag “The Kitchen Sink” for nothing.


Never go to Reno. If you ask me, I don’t think there’s ever a reason to visit Nevada, but that stems from a couple unfortunate experiences in Las Vegas when I was 25. However, I don’t mind citing Nefler with this early insight.


Having money isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is having friends. Shelly Long dispenses this priceless piece of wisdom when one of the Wilderness Girls runs out of a troop meeting because she can’t afford to pay for her patches. Now, I’ve never had my credit card cut up in the middle of Neiman Marcus, but definitely know what it’s like to fill a water bottle with wine, sneak it into a restaurant and keep topping off your glass at the table so you don’t have to order another. (Not my proudest moment.) Personally, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the lowest points in my life without the help of my besties. In fact, when the chips are down and your income is a pittance, it’s so comforting to know that good friends are invaluable.

If you’re itching for something to watch during the holiday break, I can’t recommend Troop Beverly Hills enough. In anticipation of all the new Wilderness Girls out there, I’ll be waiting right here, doing the “Cookie Time” dance. Feel free to join in at any time.


For anyone looking to chat during their first—or fourteenth—screening of the film, hit me up on Twitter at @redpatterndress.

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  1. Ava says:

    I will sing to sell cookies to what they did.

  2. Av says:

    I like it when one of the girls sing to sell cookies.

  3. Michael Sacal says:

    You do realize the Twitter account you put up at the end doesn’t show up unless one highlights it, right? lol