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Culture > Entertainment

Greta Gerwig & A Celebration of Femininity in Film

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

As one of the most revered movies of this award season, Barbie set the tone for a year of femininity, empowerment, and important conversations. The director of this film – Greta Gerwig – is no stranger to depicting these themes on screen, whether it is through her storylines, her characters, or her acting itself. 

In the three movies that I have chosen to highlight in this article, Gerwig grapples with the notions of love, anger, family, growing up, understanding yourself, and understanding the world around you. Each of these films is also centered around complex female characters who – through their various stories and experiences – showcase the multifaceted, meaningful, and raw truth about femininity and the female experience. 

frances ha

Frances Ha is a 2012 comedy-drama written by Gerwig and her now-husband Noah Baumbach. Like so many of her projects, this film is a heart-warming reflection of life in all its complicated and confusing glory. 

Taking place in New York, Frances Ha tells the story of Frances Halladay (Greta Gerwig), a quirky, passionate, and struggling dancer trying to get her life in order. Reaching her late-twenties and finding little career success – alongside a fractured relationship with Sophie, her longtime best friend – Frances is forced to navigate a number of trials and tribulations. 

Through it all, Frances Ha delves into themes of friendship, loneliness, and self-discovery with an enduring sense of relatability and tenderness, creating a compelling story and unique female character that the audience can truly empathize with. 


Gerwig’s solo directorial debut, Lady Bird is a quintessential coming-of-age comedy-drama about growing up, self-discovery, and maintaining the right relationships. The depth of connection that this film has been able to foster with its audience since its release in 2017 is testimony to the film’s beauty, but also to Gerwig’s abilities as a storyteller. 

Christine McPherson – who gives herself the name “Lady Bird” – is played by Saoirse Ronan, and throughout the film, audiences watch as she struggles to navigate a strained relationship with her mother, pressures to fit in, anxieties about growing up, and deciding what life path she wants to go down. 

Heart-wrenching, raw, and incredibly honest: Gerwig’s writing for this film is nothing short of genius. Her ability to depict the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship – and how these emotions spill over into other facets of life – is moving to watch, and it is no mystery why this film got the recognition it deserves. 

Further, the specific depiction of Lady Bird as a daughter, friend, and woman moving through the many complicated relationships of life is something that deeply resonated with me, something that I believe truly reflects Gerwig’s attention to the female experience in all her work.  

LIttle women

Last, but certainly not least, is Gerwig’s celebration of femininity in all its myriad forms. A 2019 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel by the same name, Little Women is centered around the March family, a spirited and tight-knit family anchored by the four daughters – Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Waston), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen). 

Beth is the most mellow and gentle of the sisters. A lover of music, she takes great pride in her creative abilities, relishing in the chance to go over to the neighboring house to play on their piano. When Beth falls sick with scarlet fever, she maintains her enduring grace and kindness, comforting her family throughout their hard times up until her death. 

Meg, the oldest of the March sisters, is the picture of responsibility, kindness, and love. She has a soft spot for luxury and grandeur, which leads her to try to fit in with higher society despite her family’s socioeconomic status. However, in the end, Meg’s loving heart becomes the most prominent part of her character, as she falls deeply in love with Mr. Brooke, a man that lacks wealth but makes up for it in virtue. 

Amy, the youngest of the March sisters, is arguably the most spirited of the bunch. Starting out the film as a childish, excitable young lady, Amy grows up to become a talented artist and the embodiment of grace and class after spending time with her posh Aunt March. Delivering one of the most famous monologues of the film, Amy explains to Laurie the struggles that women face in making a life for themselves, urging him to see how – to her and other women – marriage must be seen as an “economic proposition.” In this way, Amy is a strong, inspirational character that many audience members truly connect to. 

Finally, the central character of the film: Jo March. As an independent, stubborn, and tomboy-esque character, Jo defies many of the stereotypes about what a woman ought to be in her time period. A strong advocate for the hopes and dreams of women, Jo ultimately turns down Laurie’s proposal to her, an act that would certainly not be common in her day and age. Nevertheless, Jo’s character revolves around her passion, strength, and commitment to forging her own path, something that truly inspired me. 

Whether in Barbie, Frances Ha, Lady Bird, or Little Women, Greta Gerwig demonstrates a commitment to telling powerful female stories in all of their complexity and beauty. For this Women’s History Month, I can think of no better thing to celebrate than the stories of women from all different time periods, places, and walks of life. 

So, thank you to Greta Gerwig for helping tell these stories, and thank you to women everywhere for being who you are. Your story is worth being told and celebrated, this month and every month

Tara Boyd

Washington '26

Tara is a second year student at the University of Washington. She is studying English Literature and hopes to one day be an author. In her free time, Tara can be found reading, dancing, going to concerts, and spending time with loved ones!