FIVE STRONG FEMALES IN FILM


As I'm writing this, the news of Carrie Fisher's death has just been announced. Well, it was announced a few hours ago and I'm still trying to process it. In a year of so much loss, I'm not sure I'll ever really process all of it. My head is filled with so much sadness at how terrible this year has been, and at just how many bright lights have been dimmed. I read a tweet earlier today which stated exactly how I've been feeling - "Grief can only take up so many rooms is what I have repeatedly told myself this year. But my god. Grief is the one building the house."

Celebrity deaths will always leave you feeling sadness and grief. The loss of Fisher has done this to me. Not because I knew her personally and not even particularly because of her role as Leia. But because, like so many of the greats who have collectively left us this year, she was a shining light in a world which currently feels so empty and dark. A loud and unapologetic feminist, a prominent activist for mental health, a strong, kind, no-shit taking woman who turned the stereotype of the female sex-icon in film completely on it's head.

I was at a loss for what to write today, but Carrie has brought me my inspiration. Like Leia, I have been touched by many females in film who make me feel like a stronger, better version of myself. Some characters truly show you what it means to be a female and Carrie was one of these both on screen and off. So, for Carrie, here are my top five most inspiring females in film.

1. Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
It's impossible not to mention Elle Woods in a list of females in film who made me feel like I could. Growing up, I was never taught much about feminism. However, what I was taught was often wrong. It was that a girl cannot have it all. She can't be beautiful, loved AND smart, strong-hearted and witty. The character traits just didn't mix. It was either or. However, Elle Woods was the first female character to teach me that I could be all of it and more. I could be as complex as I liked and nobody could stop me. She flipped gender stereotypes on their head and taught us all that smart and sassy actually can mix.

2. Ellen Ripley, Alien
It's true that seeing a person who represents you on screen being badass makes you feel infinitely more badass. The day that Ellen Ripley burst onto our screens as the unforgiving, calculating, intelligent heroine was the day that the role of women in horror films was flipped on its head. Gone were the days of females being helpless victims in the haunted house genre - Ripley was a bold survivor who took no prisoners. She taught me that a woman could be more. Originally written as a mans role, Ripley was a female character who crossed many gender boundaries and paved the way for many more female heroines.

3. Thelma and Louise, Thelma and Louise
These two women cannot be separated, for both are just as completely fantastic and strong headed as each other. The first time I watched Thelma and Louise, I fell in love with the sheer determination of it's two leading ladies and the bond they shared. The film is more than just a care free journey, it's a ride between two friends leaving behind their restraints and the people who tried to hold them down. It's about women not being put in boxes and not being told where they belong. It's about two women discovering their true potential and although the pair meet a bitter end, it showed me that women are free. 

4. Celie Johnson, The Colour Purple
Celie is a character in both book and film who I can never let go of. The strength that she had and represented of real life women who had been in her exact position completely blew me away. In the face of emotional and physical abuse, Celie's first response is to turn herself invisible. Too often are women taught to make themselves smaller and smaller. The less space you fill up, the better a woman you are. And so we consume ourselves. However, Celie learns and teaches us all that there is space for her, and she can fill as much of it as she likes. By connecting with other women and making friendships, Celie gains the courage to fight not only for herself, but for other women around her too. Celie taught me not to allow myself to be pushed into a corner, but to fill the room.

5. Juno MacGuff, Juno
My God, I love Juno. As a young teen, I didn't quite yet understand the difference in representations of females in film. Girls on my screen were just that. Usually the "I'm not like other girls" sort, who in reality were just like other girls - driven by the opinion of men and unable to think for themselves. But Juno was different. This was the very first film to teach me what it meant to be independent and strong. Juno is smart, witty and more self-aware than young girls on screen are usually allowed to be. Although young, she is the most sure-headed character in the film and shows that it's okay to both go alone and ask for help. She taught me that in the face of adversity, girls can.

This list is far from extensive. Other females who deserve obvious mentions include Erin Brockovich, Sarah Connor, Marge Gunderson, The Bride, O-Ren Ishii, Dorothy Valens, Annie Savoy, Jackie Brown and Ree Dolly. All of these females offer viewers with the same message. You can. In the words of Carrie Fisher, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

10 comments :

  1. Love this, Lauren! Completely agree with Elle Woods and Celie, although I've never actually watched the movie of The Colour Purple, just adore her in the book. So glad you posted this.

    Rachel of Rachel Rambling On xxx

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    1. Thank you Rach! Elle and Celie are both such strong characters in different ways. I'd definitely recommend giving TCP film a watch - Goldberg is so great as Celie!xx

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  2. Such a beautifully written post (I remember writing an essay on this topic back in uni and I choose Ellen Ripley too). I think we mourn celebrity deaths so much because we all identify with them in some way or another or they help us heal. <3

    Char xo || www.memoirsmusings.com

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    1. Thanks so much Char! I think you're right. It's easy to feel attached to people who you've never met but admire. xx

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  3. A great post about what inspired(s) you. It's really interesting because I've actually not seen some of these films. I think for me, the Alien films were the first time I'd seen and recognised a female lead, as the LEADER! and the only Survivor, in what was still very much a 'male role'.

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    1. That's cool to hear that you felt that way Mike! I think I had a very similar reaction to Ripley when I first saw the film. She was a hero.

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  5. Oh Carrie. It's been so sad to know she is now gone. I was so fond of her for the reasons you give here. She was unapologetically herself, she took no shit and she was kind.
    It's in stories that we find ourselves. It's so important to show positive role models for everyone.
    Men are raised to believe their voice is valid. Women I think have to battle that before they can battle anything else.
    I watched Star Wars and Alien when I was quite young but Leia strangling Jabba with the chains and Ripley screaming get away from her you bitch (perfect thing to say to an alien) just stuck with me.

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    1. I completely agree with you Hannah! You're so right to say that women have to fight harder to get to a place where men can reach easily. It makes us stronger, and these females are such a perfect example of this!x

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