The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
One of my personal favorite movies of all time is “Legally Blonde.” I may be biased in my favoritism to “Legally Blonde,” due to my fondness for early 2000s chick flicks. This movie does stand out to me for several reasons. After several movie nights featuring the infamous Elle Woods, I noticed that this movie was more than just an entertaining classic Y2K chick flick. With enough attention to not-so-subtle details, any avid viewer would be able to catch the feminist plotline.
For the entirety of the movie, the main character keeps fighting for respect. Elle Woods, the main character, is a hyper-feminine wealthy girl from the Southern California area. She was valued by everyone around her for her appearance. Even her own parents only had the expectation of her to be a rich and conventionally attractive housewife. Not to spoil the movie, but after her boyfriend broke up with her, she decided to change her course of life. She had it all. The looks, money, boyfriend, and status as the president of her sorority. With a major pillar of her life gone, she at first decided to chase after her ex-boyfriend by going to the same law school as him. Not just any law school, but Harvard Law.
Throughout her application, the older adults around her all very openly doubted her. While it was realistic for her college counselor to suggest she apply to other schools, her tone to Woods was a condescending tone covered with a smile. Despite her being the president of her sorority and having a 4.0 GPA, her major in fashion canceled out those achievements. When she mentioned to her parents her sudden interest in law school, they told her she was better suited for marrying rich. Nonetheless, she persevered in her pursuit of law school.
After being accepted to Harvard Law, she faces ridicule from her peers. They all expect her to not take it seriously and eventually drop out. She eventually bumps into her ex a few times, and after all those encounters she came to the realization that she will always be a ditzy blonde to him. Despite her several intellectual accomplishments, she realizes that he will never see past her appearance. While another version of Woods would break down and cry at this epiphany, she decides to use it as motivation to be the best blonde lawyer.
Not even halfway through the movie, Woods is fighting to be seen for more than her appearance by almost every prominent figure in her life. While some may ask why she did not just simply change her appearance to be less feminine in order to be respected for her achievements, I think it is admirable to have a hyper-feminine female character let her achievements speak for themselves. Especially for the time period that this movie came out, I believe that a character such as Woods refusing to change herself to fit certain patriarchal standards is a huge step in the right direction.
Later on, Woods gets selected to be one of five freshman interns at one of her professor’s big law firms. She is deeply passionate about her work. It shows through her growing motivation in the case she is solving. While she thinks her professor chose her due to her achievements, she was mistaken. Again, not to trigger anyone or spoil anything, but her professor does make a move on her. He ultimately only chose her once again due to her appearance and doubted her skills the whole time. This really pushes her to the edge to quit law school entirely. With the help of a supportive peer, she ends up staying. What a good decision it was on her part! She took over the entire case and won it faster and better than her attorney professor.
This movie is sadly relatable to several women in higher education and white-collar careers. While bikinis should not be allowed in the office, a hot pink blazer and heels does not remove IQ points. Simply put, women should still be taken seriously in higher education and in white-collar careers. Elle Woods is a perfect example of this experience. I personally love her character because she not only shows the very real experiences women can face, but she refuses to let patriarchal standards knock her down.