The creators of popular Instagram account @everyoutfitonsatc and We Should All Be Mirandas: Life Lessons from Sex and the City's Most Underrated Character discuss why Miranda Hobbes is a feminist icon for our time.

As teens watching Sex and the City, Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni identified with It Girl columnist Carrie Bradshaw—the glamorous clotheshorse at the center of HBO’s breakout series, which ran from 1998-2004. Fairless and Garroni, who met in fashion school, were drawn to Carrie’s coteur-filled closet (and oven) and supreme, if not occasionally confounding, fashion sense. 

Yet this choice to “be a Carrie” was by design: while HBO certainly iterated on standard female archetypes, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character was destined to be the projection of many viewers’ thoughts and aspirations. She was a romantic without being as sappy as Charlotte, sexual but not as “brazen” as Samantha, and as driven but hyper-focused on her career (how many deadlines did she almost miss?) as Miranda, who was positioned as the series’ everywoman and subject to many of the show’s awkward and embarrassing interactions. Of all the women on SATC, “a Miranda” was the least desirable archetype. In their new book, We Should All Be Mirandas: Life Lessons from Sex and the City’s Most Underrated Character, Garroni and Fairless call this “Mirandaphobia”: an “institutionalized belief that Mirandas” are inferior to other archetypes.

The writers first began unpacking Mirandaphobia on their popular Instagram account @everyoutfitonsatc, which documents the show’s iconic and odd fashion with cutting, insightful, and studied commentary. The account was dreamt up over margaritas in June 2016 and now has over 613,000 followers; while the rapid following was less surprising given the show’s popularity, the account’s creators were surprised by the response to their Miranda-centric posts.

“We could tell early on that…there was this underserved audience of Miranda fans. Also, in the current fashion climate where brands like Balenciaga are huge and normcore has been an influential stylistic movement, Miranda’s outfits from the series have come back into style and are kind of forward-thinking,” Fairless said.

Fairless and Garroni continued to highlight Miranda’s often androgenious, business appropriate, and “off duty” looks, and came to realize that Cynthia Nixon’s character was actually the right woman to idolize. 

“I think Lauren and I aged into being Mirandas. Once we sort of had that realization, we tried to make a conscious effort to ‘reclaim’ Miranda as the protagonist of the series in a way,” Fairless said. “We do think that even though she was portrayed as the everywoman who had unfortunate awkward experiences, at the end of the day she has an Ivy League education, she owns a brownstone, she has a kid, a husband, a housekeeper….Her life is very covetable.” 

Miranda Hobbes’ life is “more aspirational than necessarily having a closet filled with $40,000 worth of shoes and credit card debt,” said Garroni. “We wish we could be It Girls like Carrie Bradshaw, but in our ‘30s we realize that’s not going to happen and that’s OK.” 

The authors define the 21st century Miranda archetype as one “typically characterized by a mild distrust of the world and the norms set upon it by society.” A woman who identifies as a Miranda is “driven and resourceful,” able to “accomplish anything with enough time, determination, and chlamydia medication.”

Illustration by Carly Jean Andrews.

While the slogan originally appeared on a t-shirt, the We Should All Be Mirandas (released on Oct. 15 and excerpted on Boundless) book is a satirical take on self-help books from the ‘80s and ‘90s which promised that women can “have it all”—a concept Mirandas balks at. “But we realized as we wrote the book that we had some advice to dispense as two Mirandas who have been there,” Garroni noted. 

The book offers a myriad of ways to become a fully actualized Miranda, from how to dress like a Miranda (“stick with classic silhouettes and good fabrics, and never, ever skimp on tailoring”), love like a Miranda (including how to break up and be friends with an ex), and thrive like a Miranda (self-care is important, even if you hate the term self-care). Career-driven to her core, the book also discusses how to work like a Miranda, including how to negotiate for a raise, deal with coworkers you hate, and be a productive freelancer. 

Yet, crucially, Mirandas leaves room for failure and offers a critical perspective that its heroine would surely appreciate. “Just because we’re Mirandas doesn’t mean we always have our shit together. Many of us are trapped in dead-end jobs while others have enviable careers but sad, pathetic lives…. At the end of the day, every Miranda must succeed on her own terms,” the authors write.  

Fairless and Garroni also position Miranda among like-minded women in history, including Hillary Clinton (the comparison was particularly fitting as Cyntia Nixon also ran for public office in 2018). “[Miranda is] completely ahead of her time. I think now we’re starting to see women like her being valued in culture a bit more, even though Hillary Clinton lost the election but, you know,” Fairless said.  While Sex and the City was generally apolitical (with the exception of Carrie’s incredibly sex negative dalliance with an NYC comptroller, whom she publicly kink-shamed), Miranda’s authors feel that SATC’s characters can be viewed through a political lens. Most notably, the account’s #wokecharlotte meme repositioned the show’s most traditional character as an intersectional feminist who owns her privilege and advocates for others. 

I don’t know if [@everyoutsfitonsatc has] politicized the show, but I think we’re at a point now where we can’t not comment on these things; it seems necessary to keep the conversation going and bring it into contemporary times,” Garroni said. “We finished the book as we head into yet another election cycle, and adopting a pragmatic Miranda point of view is just self-care. Elizabeth Warren is definitely a Miranda.” 

Fairless imagines that Miranda Hobbes of 2019 would likely take on some pro bono cases, but stopped short of noting what causes she’d champion or her political leanings. Yet when the real Miranda hit the campaign trail, Fairless and Garroni stumped for Cynthia Nixon’s New York gubernatorial campaign and threw a fundraiser. “Sex and the City started 20 years ago, and I’m very keenly aware of this,” The New York Times reported, adding that Nixon admitted that the show focused on “an extremely white and extremely affluent part of New York” and highlighted some of “the flaws of the feminist movement.” 

Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni.

Although parts of SATC are dated and occasionally cringeworthy, the Mirandas authors are still struck by the show’s impact; to date, no show centering female friendship has overtaken it. “I fell in love with the show because it showed women who had a love for fashion but it didn’t make them superficial, they were very career focused but weren’t shrill, they loved sex but weren’t demonized for it,” Garroni said. “As a teenager, I hadn’t seen anything like that and it pushed the needle forward for everything that came after.”

Much like Sex and the City offered a unique platform to showcase single, empowered women, Mirandas and @everyoutfitonsatc have given Fairless and Garroni their own unique opportunities to trailblaze in media and consider the shows they grew up on. “Now that I am the age of those characters…I see how sort of timeless [the show] is and it does really speak to universal issues that women in their 30s face,” Fairless said.

Jessica Lipsky is Boundless’ digital editor and a Brooklyn-based journalist who covers culture, music, and media. Her work has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Newsweek, Billboard, Vice, Salon, LA Weekly, The North Star,  and other publications.