15 Years Later, Elle Woods is Still One of Our Favorite Feminists

It’s the 15th anniversary of Legally Blonde—and we should all still be giving this movie some big feminist snaps. Protagonist Elle Woods is an intelligent, compassionate, fabulous woman who challenges countless stereotypes about women and proves there is no such thing as a “dumb blonde.” Although it’s continuously dismissed as “just another chick-flick,” Legally Blonde was a film with a multi-dimensional female lead who was fun, smart and feminist.

Although the movie begins with Elle following her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School, it ends with her having stared down sexism time and time again without so much as breaking a nail. Her parents tell her she’s too pretty for law school. She’s accused of being “not serious enough,” dumb and weak. She’s called a ‘skank’. She’s falsely accused of sleeping her way to the top. She faces sexual harassment. Again and again, she’s reduced to her breasts and blonde hair. But throughout it all, she remains true to herself. She proves that her bubbly personality and love of the color pink do not make her inferior—that her femininity is an asset rather than a disadvantage.

Elle overcomes countless adversities in the pursuit of academic excellence and an established law career, all while wearing a pink suit. That’s definitely something still worth celebrating.

IMG_5535Maeve Barry is an editorial intern at Ms. and a student at Occidental College studying Gender Studies and Critical Theory and Social Justice. She also co-founded a group focused on body positivity for high school girls called Clear Image. Maeve loves writing, surfing and her two dogs Buddy and Maddie.

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Comments

  1. You can not judge a book by its cover

  2. Dear Maeve,
    Thank you for saying this! I have always thought that this movie was far more feminist than anyone gave it credit for! It totally breaks the stereotype that girly women are unintelligent and only interested in getting a man. It’s a stereotype that is both so prevalent and so reinforced by societal expectations that even Elle believes it herself at first, as many ‘pretty’ women often do. But even we feminists forget that the association between femininity and stupidity stems from the very mysogynist mindset that we have been so desperately attempting to snuff out. Thank you, Maeve and thank you, Elle, for reminding us that ‘pink’ is not an antonym of ‘think’.
    xoxoxo Bess

    • Maeve Barry says:

      Thank you so much for saying this! I 100% agree, and love the phrase ‘pink is not an antonym of pink’, I couldn’t have said it better myself! I’m glad to meet another feminist who appreciates the value of Elle! xoxo Maeve

  3. Maureen O'Connell says:

    Maeve you hit the nail on the head yet again! Go Elle! Go Maeve! Go MS!

  4. Wonderful reminder of what it means to truly be a feminist-accepting and supporting other women without judgement, so that we can all reach our true and full potential.
    By the way, I realized I could only read the quotes and commentary when using Chrome.

  5. These are definitely good points but like too many comedies with female leads, any woman who is not young and hot or who does not embrace her femininity to the hilt, is treated with derision. Sadly, Legally Blonde is no exception. Also, in the interest of “balance”, older male characters are usually played as more sympathetic to the young, hot woman trying to overcome obstacles as opposed to the older career/academically inclined women in the story who are usually dismissive and contemptuous. I also realize that we do have to take the good with the bad because otherwise we would never be able to enjoy any form of entertainment. So for that I say, Thank you Ms. Barry!

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