Last semester in my Child Developmental Psychology class, we talked about the importance of representation in media and the effects it can have on children. I know when my mom was growing, she did not have much strong female leads to look up, so I started to think about the characters on TV and in movies that I am exposed. Females in movies and TV too often fall under categories that are the love interest, the damsel in distress, weak or even unintelligent. It can be hard to find characters that show women as strong, brave, intelligent and most importantly the ability to function without a man. I came up with a list of the most badass female characters that I watched when I was a kid and also now as an adult that broke the female stigma in media and showed us who women really are!
5. Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of my favorite shows when I was little and at age 20, it still is. Katara was one of the main characters who was a powerful waterbender. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. On many occasions throughout the show, she would exhibit to be the leader of the group and show that she did more than just kept up in a fight. She also challenged sexist views of other characters and showed just how strong women are. This children’s shows is great for all kids and even adults as it tackles important issues like racism, sexism, and politics in a manner that helpfully educates kids.
4. Emily Prentiss (Criminal Minds)
I owe my love for criminology to the one and only Special Agent Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds. I watched this shows when I was around 12 and continue to watch it to this day. Emily was a female working in a male dominanted field. She was a strong, female character that would not take crap from anyone. She showed girls that it was cool to be smart, strong, and to never let the boys slow you down.
3. Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
Veronica Mars was a show that my mom introduced me to, and I was hooked the second I saw it. Veronica was a teenage sleuth that was trying to find out who killed her best friend. Throughout the three seasons, Veronica proves multiple times that she is the smartest person in the room, and she does not need a man to get her out of a sticky situation. She is often seen as the hero saving the day.
2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
If we are being real, there would not have been 8 movies (or 7 books) without Hermione Granger. Yes, I know Harry Potter was the chosen one, but it is Hermione who kept him alive long enough to save everyone. She was by far the smartest person in the franchise and had no problem showing. She exhibit insecurities when she was younger because her smarts being a threat to men but shows young girls how to rise above it because it is something to be proud of. She is one of the ultimate female icons, just like the girl her plays her, Emma Watson, who is an outspoken feminist herself.
- Arya Stark (Game of Thrones)
Arya Stark is possibly my favorite fictional characters of all time. There is only one word that can accurately describe Arya and that is: Badass. In the first season we see her as an outspoken little girl with a mind of her own, but still very sheltered in her life with her family and may even be seen as weak. When everything goes to hell, we see exactly what Arya is made through the rest of the seasons as she becomes Winterfell’s greatest warrior and doing one of her favorite things: making men cry. The most incredible thing is that she was not given a love interest, rightfully so, but yet she is one of the complexed and well-liked character of the series. At the end of the day, she becomes the hero that the shows needs and proves it with just her wit and a needle.