Monday, 10 April 2017

Why Elle Woods is my Feminist Icon

When I was about 12 or 13 I became obsessed with the Legally Blonde films, along with that, the protagonist Elle Woods. And when I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. I still basically know it off by heart.

Original Picture Credit

For those of you who haven’t heard of her, Elle Woods is a Bel Air sorority girl fitting all the stereotypes. When her seemingly perfect boyfriend Warner Huntington the Third breaks up with her instead of proposing (citing that she isn’t “serious enough” for someone wanting to become a senator by the time he’s thirty) she is devastated and ends up applying to Harvard Law School (the school he happens to be attending) to prove to him that she is serious and win him back. Doesn’t sound so feminist at the moment, does it?

I know Legally Blonde doesn’t portray the problems of all women (The Woods’ biggest problem is when their favourite cocktail is out of supply) and it does have a very complicated relationship with stereotypes in my eyes. This is due to the fact that Elle’s character is all about breaking stereotypes but then she wins the end case (spoiler alert there) by using a stereotype to make assumptions about someone’s sexuality. But I never said Elle was a perfect feminist (is there even such a thing?).

Elle is an icon to me because she was the first female character who made me feel like I could do anything, no matter what everyone else thinks of you and your capabilities. She showed me that I can be smart and successful without sacrificing my femininity. And that, to me, is so so important.

Elle is an incredible lawyer, cracking cases with knowledge that comes from her femininity, but also demonstrating shrewd legal skills in other aspects of her life. She maintains her client’s trust, she holds her own and sticks to her guns when her professor objectifies her and tries to take advantage of her. She remains modest about her achievements, when I know I probably wouldn’t be! And all of this with fabulous nails and an attitude of supporting her fellow women and looking out for one another.

So yeah, she goes to Harvard chasing after a guy, but through that experience she finds the ability to see through her infatuation with him to see him for who he really is and decides that she really doesn’t need someone like him (*cough* “bone-head” *cough*) in her life anymore, eventually ending up with a guy who is so much better for her. Whilst seeing her opinions about Warner change, she also breaks past first impressions so that she and the girl she is immediately pitted against unite and become friends.

I love Elle, and whilst she has her problems and many other people may not agree with me, she means a lot to me both as a character and as my feminist icon.

Who’s yours?



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