Growing up, all I really wanted was to be Elle Woods. The sweet demeanor, the depth, the intelligence I saw in her, and the strength and growth she showed throughout the film absolutely inspired me. The most inspiring part, out of it all, is that she did it all while dressed in pink with shiny, bouncy hair. She went to the salon and she went shopping. She is 100% a girly girl. Finally, I felt like I looked up at a movie screen and I saw myself looking back at me.
Elle Woods represented everything I aspired to be. As a kid, I wanted to go to Harvard Law School and be a lawyer, and I still do. But as someone who’s Elle Woods’ biggest fan, I have to ask; why is she portrayed so smart, yet so clueless?
Elle Woods’ video essay to get into Harvard is honestly just outrageously ridiculous. It’s so outrageously ridiculous that all you can do is laugh at it. Laugh at her, just like writers have set you up to do. The question we have to ask ourselves is, why is it so funny?
The movie chooses to focus on her choice of bikini top for her Harvard admissions essay, her Playboy bunny costume mishap at a party, and her bonding with the woman she was working to defend over their hair. Instead, I’d like to focus on her 179 on the LSAT that put her in the 99.9%, just one point away from a perfect score.
Let’s focus on her brilliance, her kindness in helping other girls find confidence like her dear friend Paulette, and her choice to bring muffins to a study group led by her ex-boyfriend’s current fiance. She even chose a Coppola to direct said Harvard admissions video, and in the musical version of Legally Blonde, it’s said her costume is a tribute to Gloria Steinem’s work in undercover journalism! Elle Woods exemplifies grace, kindness, intelligence, and above all, femininity.
She is extremely confident, with quotes like, “I don’t need backups. I’m going to Harvard.”
And the best part; she did.
Elle Woods got into one of the top law schools in the nation by being 100% herself, and I’m sick of it being brushed aside. Her choice of a pink, scented resume isn’t a joke, it’s proven dedication that she goes above and beyond to be successful, to be the best, but we’re supposed to think that her feminine resume is funny. Who scents their resume, right?
The truth is, Elle Woods is one of the smartest students at Harvard, she just doesn’t do things like a man, so we’re not supposed to take her seriously.
I focus on Elle Woods because there are millions of Elle’s out there. These are women who work hard and deserve to be taken seriously.
Let women wear pink to work.
Let women scent and color their resumes.
Let women talk about their feminine interests instead of labeling them “bimbo” and “Barbie.”
Elle Woods won a case none of her coworkers could have by using her knowledge of traditionally feminine interests, like fashion and hair, interests that were mocked throughout the whole movie.
IMDB synopsizes Legally Blonde as, “Elle Woods, a fashionable sorority queen, is dumped by her boyfriend. She decides to follow him to law school. While she is there, she figures out that there is more to her than just looks.”
That’s not the same movie I watched. Elle Woods always knew there was more to her than looks the entire time. It was those who surrounded her, and the audience, who didn’t.
Legally Blonde is based on writer Amanda Brown’s experiences as a blonde in law school, and now represents millions of stories about women who aren’t taken seriously for expressing their feminine side.
I’m sick of society using femininity as the punchline and associating it with stupidity. Feminine women deserve celebration as more than just the punchline, or the dumb best friend, or the object of the male protagonist’s affections. It’s such an outdated concept to pretend that women can’t be great at styling a look and be great at Calculus at the same time.
Let women be smart.
Let women be feminine.
Let women be smart and feminine at the same time.
By celebrating masculine traits and putting down feminity, we both discourage women from expressing their feminine sides (if they so choose), and men from doing the same, creating a toxic, one-dimensional culture that places feminity and women as a whole on a lower shelf than men.
Historically, femininity was both something to be celebrated as a status symbol, and something to resent as it represented a cage that women were to remain in for the rest of their lives. With the second wave of feminism, we saw more of an emphasis on shedding the roles women were often forced to take, and the embracement of women in typically masculine fields and interests. This was truly revolutionary work, and without it, modern-day feminism wouldn’t be what it is today.
The progress this brought was not to put women down for their interests and have them become more masculine to be socially accepted but to allow women the right to choose who they wanted to be and the interests they wanted to have, without judgment.
The goal isn’t to make feminine women the joke, or lesser than, it’s to celebrate all our sisters and in all their interests and shapes and sizes and colors in our fight for intersectional feminism.
So let’s stop making femininity the punchline.
In the world that we live in, we don’t have space or time to be divided. When it comes to breaking the glass ceiling, it shouldn’t matter if you did it in a dress or a pantsuit. All that matters is that we as feminists lift each and every kind of woman up because the fight isn’t against each other; it’s against the patriarchy.
To close, I’ll quote our dear friend Elle Woods, “You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.”
When we examine our own misogynistic beliefs and judgments that have been imbued in us by society from day one, we begin to grow as better people, and as better women. So, support your sisters, of every race and sexuality, in every field, and in every shade of pink.