If there is anything that Elle Woods taught me, it is the art of ‘proving people wrong’ and still kicking ass in the fashion stakes. Elle Woods represented a new breed of woman, a revolutionary movie archetype that played into the so called ‘dumb blonde’ character but proved to be far more intelligent than her peers gave her credit for. Isn’t that something we women face on a daily basis, a glass ceiling that is premeditated by so called ‘gender constructs’? We are constantly told that we ‘cannot’ achieve goals to the same standards as men and indeed even movie ceremonies segregate our actors into ‘gendered’ categories. Yet, despite the obstacles we face on a daily basis, despite what society tells us, isn’t it women who rule the world? After all women are the ones who give birth, cook, clean and still hold down jobs and have hobbies.
Yet Legally Blonde was directed by ‘Robert Luketic’, a male who ironically typecast Elle as a ‘dumb blonde’ to satirize Hollywood’s perception of femininity. It was a clever tactic and when Elle realizes she does not need a man to be ‘successful’ she studies diligently and still remains true to herself, despite the animosity of her peers. Elle transforms from a ‘dumb blonde’ to a ‘workaholic’ almost in a blink of an eye, creating the rhetoric of her never being ‘dumb’ in the first place. It just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover and Elle demonstrated that her ‘love of fashion’ did not make her a materialist but instead fashion became a weapon through which she could disguise her true intellect. Thus when she confronts opponents they have no choice but to be surprised that this so called ‘dumb blonde’is going places and they are not.
Woods is an aspirational figure because she enters a ‘feminist awakening’ and although she is not a typical ‘feminist character’, she stays true to herself, which ultimately is a trait we should all aspire to have. In a society which functions on archaic archetypes, we are often conditioned from a young age to believe that we should act, behave and think a certain way. Women should be feminine and men should be masculine but what society didn’t tell you is how these gender constructs are outdated and not guidelines that need to be followed. Thus despite Elle being a typical feminine archetype i.e. maternal, sweet and friendly, Elle uses these traits not to ‘serve’ or be in ‘submission to men’ but to always remain independent and true to who she is as a person.
Feminists might skewer Luketic’s representation of ‘Woods’, claiming that being a proud sorority sister, watching twee television programmes and her obsession with appearance do not make her a feminist yet I disagree. As a liberal feminist I support equality between men, women and trans yet still love to spend money on clothes and am concerned with appearance. But does that mean I am not a feminist? Well of course not because like Woods I might be a ‘complete, un-self conscious embodiment’ of ‘un-feminist’ qualities but that does not mean that being interested in fashion detracts from our sensibilities as a feminist! Even in today’s society ‘fashion’ is not seen as a ‘real subject’ yet it deserves just as much merit as other ‘serious subjects’. Fashion covers business, marketing, knowing your audience and isn’t that what any occupation is about? After all as a blogger we cover marketing, social media, writing, image control, proof-reading, SEO and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
In a way Woods motto of being ‘well-dressed’ to impress – whether that be academically or socially- echoes sentiments written by the great Oscar Wilde who stated that “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” I know what you are thinking, how on earth can a great literary scholar like Wilde have similarities with a Hollywood fictional character and the answer is simple. Dressing to impress is not just about the aesthetics of a look but about how it can make you ‘feel’. Fashion and styling is individualistic but it does have an impact on your emotional and physical wellbeing. After all what is going to make you feel better ‘ dressing up in your finest garbs’ or sitting in your pjs?
Elle Woods taught me that being a feminist is not about critiquing patriarchy and criticizing women who do not define themselves as feminists but about being true to yourself. Because at the end of the day A. Woods never defines herself as a feminist yet clearly exhibits features of feminism and B. us women have to stick together, its ok to have opposing views. Besides wouldn’t life be boring if we all held the same views?
What Are Your Thoughts On Elle Woods and Who Is Your Ultimate Role Model?
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