Watching films growing up, seeing strong female characters felt empowering, and as I’ve come to find out as I become older, essential. When lady characters do some thing badass, unpredictable, or heartwarming, girls (myself alike) always cheer for them in the back of our heads. In a time where women are rightfully fighting for equal wage in Hollywood, it feels necessary to pay homage to pop culture’s feminist icons. Whether this means glitter, blood, or something completely intergalactic, here are women who make us proud to be women:
1. Miranda Priestly, Devil Wears Prada
The fierce woman behind the successful Runway Magazine, Miranda Priestly, is a feminist force to be reckoned with. Although antagonized as a “devil” throughout the film, the Editor-in-Chief is actually a hardworking, perfectionist who rightfully climbed her ladder and success.
This movie challenges gender roles by providing representation for ambitious women. At the same time, it shows how shocking it is for society to see a driven, straight-edged woman but no one wonders if a guy is in the position of power. Miranda Priestly is said to be based on Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour, which reminds us that the movie isn’t just a fantasy.
2. Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
The “dumb blonde” stereotype is crushed into pieces in this film. Blonde Elle Woods is a determined, smart young lady who roots her strength from herself and her friends. Throughout the film, the woke queen pointed out double standards and gender roles, then proceeded to deconstructing these. She hated it when women were pitted against each other, and became best friends with her “competition” instead. Eventually, they both ditched Warner, whose toxic masculinity makes him feel entitled and superior.
Without any limitations and hesitations, Elle Woods graduated from her dream school Harvard with varying colors of pink and all things effeminate. Legally Blonde reminds us that we don’t have to compromise our femininity to maximize our success.
3. Cher Horowitz, Clueless
Clueless is a reminder to all young girls that happiness does not depend on a man. The comic riff on Jane Austen’s Emma explores the journey of a lady in the modern setting. It focuses on female friendship and how it’s an unrelenting force, which cannot be destroyed by “boy problems,” or high school. The girls openly talk about virginity, shamelessly and without judgment, because why should virginity dictate anything anyway?
The girls also brace through their love affairs together, and in support of each other. When it goes sour, there’s shopping and makeovers. Unapologetically feminine and feminist, these girls embrace their interests and life choices without being stopped by fragile masculinity.
4. The Bride, Kill Bill
Push the glitter aside and pour the blood. The Bride from Tarantino’s Kill Bill might just be the most badass feminist. Geared to fight for her daughter, the female lead takes out anyone in her way. It doesn’t matter the size, the gender, or the count–when a lady is determined, nothing can stop her. By Killing Bill, the main antagonist and father of her child, she redefines the concept of family and femininity.
Earlier this year, news reported that Tarantino ran Uma Thurman through a fatal shot without consent to push their boundaries in action scenes. Giving the credit for The Bride’s character solely to the director doesn’t feel right. With Thurman surviving the scenes in character and real life, it’s safe to give her her fair share (if not all) of acclaim.
5. Princess Leia, Star Wars
Princess Leia is the feminist princess we all deserve. Despite being rescued by two males, she quickly established her vital spot in the trio. After being enslaved by Jabba the Hutt, she pays gruesome revenge by strangling him to a slow, painful death. (She did this wearing a bikini!) Princess Leia’s sharp tongue challenges the timid, passive girl stereotype–she is a warrior through her words and actions.
On top of that, Leia falls in love but does not lose her character. She continued to kick ass intergalactically, while inspiring us to do so in this small world.
Who are your favorite feminist icons? Sound off in the comments.