20 Years Later, Legally Blonde Is Still Relevant And A Fan Favourite
Much more than just another blonde
Twenty years ago, we were introduced to Elle Woods and her contagious personality through the film Legally Blonde. The movie was a fresh take on a strong female character, making it a cult classic. It starts as any typical rom-com from the early 2000s- a young girl dedicating her life to pursue a boy in the name of love. However, as the plot progresses, it surprises you in many ways. It’s the journey of a girl stomping her way through a misogynistic world in her not so last season Prada shoes and perfectly manicured nails. For many, Elle became an inspiration and still is. Here’s why the movie continues to stay relevant even twenty years post its release.
Women have been subjected to judgement based on their appearance for as long as we can remember. The film sees Elle being stereotyped as a ‘dumb blonde’ and not being taken seriously, even though she aced her LSATs and has a 4.0 GPA. It leads to the point where she is seen dressing down to fit in at law school, ‘completely disregarding her signature colour’ pink. This still holds true, in view of the fact that women are expected to present themselves a certain way to be taken seriously in the professional world.
The Male Gaze
While Elle is constantly stereotyped because of how she looks, apparently, she is also hired as an intern because of it, which is established when her professor makes a pass at her. To make it as a lawyer, she is expected to give in to the pressure of her superiors. While conversations around such issues have finally started coming up with the #MeToo movement, Legally Blonde was way ahead of its time to talk about the dark side of working life for women.
Being a woman, trying to make a place in a patriarchal society comes with its own set of challenges, one of them being working ten times harder to receive some respect. The film addresses this subject when Vivian (played by Selma Blair) is constantly seen bringing coffee at her professor’s beck and call rather than getting actual work. Whereas the boys are never sent on such coffee runs or grunt work. Well, why should boys have all the fun?
As seen in the movie, Elle is happiest when she’s around her girls. Be it her sorority best friends, Paulette from the salon, her client Brooke or even her nemesis-turned-best friend Vivian; she is all about female friendships and empowerment. The film shows sisterhood in simple ways—Elle fighting for her friend Paulette’s dog, her sorority sisters helping her study and showing up for her first trial, hearing out Vivian’s concerns about their professor being biased, or even Professor Stormwell having her back when Elle almost gave up. With Elle’s warm personality and her powerful friendships, the film brought down yet another stereotype of women being catty and spiteful to each other.
On Being Feminine
It is evident right from the beginning of the movie that Elle is a fashionista and completely obsessed with all things pink and fuzzy. Her passion for fashion is, however, mistaken for her not being smart enough and is constantly questioned by her boyfriend Warner (“If I’m going to be a senator, I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn”), her parents and even the salesgirl at the store who was ultimately shot down by Elle’s wit and knowledge. But who said being smart and fashionable have to be mutually exclusive? The film further proves that one doesn’t have to choose- get the best of both worlds, girls!
Confidence Is Key
Elle remains confident despite facing persistent misogyny, being stereotyped against, and a lack of faith from those around her. The fact that she kept her client’s alibi a secret and yet had faith to win the case is symbolic of her self-confident nature. Elle remains iconic for many reasons, but her ‘never doubt yourself’ attitude is certainly inspiring.
The movie began with not so feminist intentions and turned into something of a trailblazer- shattering stereotypes, calling out injustices and nurturing female friendships. What? Like it’s hard?