“You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself” – Elle Woods: Legally Blonde
I mentioned previously that my next few posts would continue to be targeted towards girls and women in tribute to International Women’s Day. This day has long past however, I still haven’t uploaded (can thank a crappy laptop for that one), and I began thinking that maybe it was too late.
Then I had a different thought, since when is it too late to talk about women in a positive way? I have decided to continue these posts because, as far as I am concerned, that is always acceptable. I have a few ideas lined up for a few more posts on this subject however, if I think of more in the coming month or year, I will not again hesitate to post and celebrate women.
So, in my previous post I focused on female authors, their novels and strong female characters. Today’s post is very similar in that I am still looking into strong female characters however, I am looking into a broader range of entertainment. I also plan a part 2 which I hope to detail real-life women who people of all ages can look to for inspiration.
Established: Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior
I call these ‘Established’ because I spoke in great detail about all three of these previously however; I view them as such important role-models, and therefore I felt I had to include them in this list.
1. Charmed: Prudence, Piper & Phoebe Halliwell; Paige Matthews
So, I was a big fan of Charmed growing up. To date it is probably one of my all-time favourite TV shows. When I was younger I loved the supernatural and sister-hood element and while I still do, as I grew older it became clear that the show was more than that. The women are all strong; confident; caring; loyal; funny; witty people who have their fair share of successes and failures.
Prudence (Prue) Hailliwell:
The oldest of the four sisters, when she knew what she wanted she was never afraid to go and get it. Prue was outspoken, fiercely protective, confident and in control. Sure, there were moments of insecurity however, I feel that is also a good thing for everyone to see. It shows that not only is it normal but it helps you to grow as a person. The great thing about this character is that – there were moments where she was down, but she was never down for long.
“Billy, it’s the 21st Century. It’s the woman’s job to save the day” Prue Hailliwell – Season 2 Episode 18.
Growing up as the middle child, we saw Piper transform from a peace-keeping mediator into a force of nature. We watched as she became confident in herself, her choices and her abilities. After the death of her sister she transitioned into the eldest sibling. This was a tough period for Piper, as it would be for any person.
I believe Pipers character evolved the most throughout the eight seasons the show aired. She was the middle sister and the eldest; she was a wife and a mother; she was an enemy and a friend. She handled everything the best she could and there were a few meltdowns, this cannot be denied however, she pulled through every single one. Through every obstacle – losing Leo, getting him back, losing him and getting him back; losing her sister; learning to let someone else in after that loss (i.e. Paige); learning her son is evil in the future; losing the son who came back to save him; plus the whole ‘saving the world’ thing, a few meltdowns were entitled. In the end her will and determination to fight for the people she loved, each and every time, never wore thin. She is the embodiment of never giving up on your dreams.
“I can’t just give up. I don’t know how” – Piper Halliwell: Season 5 Episode 23
Phoebe Halliwell was, at one point, the youngest sister who lived life on the edge, was carefree with hardly any responsibilities when we first met her. Initially there was tension between her and Prue however, in true sister fashion they put their differences behind them (for the most part) and worked things out. They continued to have the occasional spat however, that came from a clash of personality. More than anything their love for each other would always come out on top. This is a great aspect to the show because it shows that even family isn’t perfect, for example it is typical for me and my sister to be at each others throat one minute then laughing like normal the next.
Phoebe had a lot of challenges to deal with herself throughout the series. We saw her trial and error in both love and career. Though she started out as the youngest who was afraid she wouldn’t amount to anything she ended up as a successful newspaper advice columnist (plus married Cupid himself). She had always felt insecure next to her sisters however, she was unique. She had her own smarts and learned to love herself for them. It was rare to see her without a smile on her face, trying to do the same for someone else. Most of all she was always ready to take on a new challenge and never tried to change into something she wasn’t, she was herself through and through.
“I’m no angel, I’m a witch” – Phoebe Halliwell: Season 1 Episode 5
The long lost sister who was introduced after the death of Prue. Similar to Phoebe, Paige was a free spirit, independent and forward-thinking. Upon first learning of her destiny, initially she was terrified however, was quick to learn the craft whilst maintaining her own identity. Paige took most things in her stride, her constant epiphanies -while did not always work out- were always creative and a great source of amusement, she was also usually armed with a witty remark or two. She learns to be part of a family and genuinely loves and cares for all of them.
“I choose to be a witch. I could have walked away. But I didn’t” – Paige Matthews: Season 5 Episode 9
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy Summers
Buffy Summers. There is so much to say about this show and character. Some might say that she is only considered ‘strong’ because of her enhanced capabilities. I don’t believe this is true. In my opinion there are times where strength has nothing to do with ‘lifting weights at the gym’ and everything to do with the strength of a persons character, never giving up, fighting for and protecting your loved ones and, at times, even people you don’t necessarily like. There is a lot to say about Buffy, so I decided to let ‘Buffy’ do the talking.
Angelus: “No weapons.. no friends.. no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?”
Buffy: “…Me” – Season 2 Episode 22
“Things have really sucked lately, but it’s all going to change. And I want to be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again. And I want to see you grow up. The woman you’re going to become. Because she’s going to be beautiful. And she’s going to be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don’t want to protect you from the world, I want to show it to you” – Season 6 Episode 22
“Seize the moment, ’cause tomorrow you might be dead” – Season 1 Episode 1
“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live” – Season 5 Episode 22
“No guy is worth your life. Not ever” – Season 7 Episode 6
These are just a few of my favourite lines from Buffy herself. Yes, there is a team of both men and women behind this however, that is not the point. The point is they are spoken through her, and for a young girl to see that image can ignite a spark, and it can stay with you forever.
“I always find a way. I am the thing monsters have nightmares about” – Season 7 Episode 11
3. The Addams Family Values: Wednesday Addams
Slightly unorthodox I know, but hear me out. No I do not advocate violence, or homicide for that matter. I’m not saying that we should all look up to her for inspiration in everyday life, but I think this character offers something else to be admired.
First of all, while I’ve seen the black and white and other film versions, I’ve chosen ‘The Addams Family Values’ as it is one I’m more familiar with out of the rest.
Wednesday Addams, in my opinion, is so unlike any other young girl on screen. One of the reasons is her dark sense of humour. Throughout this movie, I find, she is probably the funniest character, with her sharp tongue and witty comebacks. Another obvious element of her uniqueness is that she knows she is different from everyone else and she does not care. Throughout the film we do not see her try to change or compromise who she is (except as a trick in order to escape from camp), she never doubts herself for a second, she is confident; resourceful and, though seems to find most normal things distasteful, she genuinely cares for her family (as shown by her response to wanting to help her Uncle). Another aspect to her personality, which as far as I can tell is usually overlooked, is her intelligence. Numerous times she has shown herself to be intelligent by teaching her younger brother (her methods are unconventional, I grant you) plus her ability to communicate with adults and out-wit or out-think them on various occasions.
Gary: “Now, one of you will be the drowning victim and the other one gets to be our lifesaver”
Amanda: “I’ll be the victim”
Wednesday: “All your life”
Wednesday: “Be afraid, be very afraid”
4. The Swan Princess: Odette
This was one of my faviourite films growing up. When I was younger I loved the humour, the story, the characters etc. I watched it recently and realized there was another reason why I loved it, sure there was humour which I didn’t see before, but there was also an element that other animated princess movies didn’t necessarily have at the time. Odette, from a young girl, was tough and unafraid to speak her mind. At the beginning we see her silently challenge Derek to a fight, bring down a fort on principal and best Derek at a number of different activities. She also refused to marry Derek, after the only reasoning he declared was her beauty. Odette was kidnapped however, even after being turned into an animal every day, she still refused to do the one thing to ensure her release from the spell (marry her kidnapper and give away her fathers kingdom). Admittedly, you could argue either way for this character however, to me these are things which are undeniably important for girls to see after watching beloved movies like ‘Snow White’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’ etc.
Prince Derek: “You’re all I’ve ever wanted. You’re beautiful”
Odette: “Thank You. But what else?”
Odette: “I need to know that he loves me.. for just being me”
Odette: “Every night you ask me the same question. And every night I give you the same answer.. I’ll die first”
5. Lorien Legacies: Six
I started reading this series a few years ago, I love it and cannot wait for the next books to come out every time.
Six is one of four main female characters in this series. She is witty, tough, well versed in hand-to-hand combat and an expert in weapons. Six doesn’t back down from a fight, but knows when it’s time to get herself, and the people she cares for, out of danger; she remains calm in stressful situations and is well-known for her quick decision making and capability to stay collected when facing adversaries. Six is also shown to be on the same level, if not stronger and more skilled, in combat as her male counterparts.
I love this being shown in a female character. Yes, women can be kind, loving and caring but we’re also so much more than that.
“I know what I am capable of; I’m a soldier now, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt”
6. Frozen: Elsa & Anna
I’ve decided to combine these two, and yes I’m going to talk about the aspect that everyone talks about when they watch this movie – their sisterhood.
I found this movie to be great in many ways.
One: Anna didn’t look perfect and act too chipper when she woke up in the morning (shallow? Maybe, but something that always bugged me)
Anna also teaches you to never give up on the people you love;
Two: It tackled a very outdated animated issue of ‘You can’t marry a man you just met” nor can you really know a person you just met, let alone declare your love after one day. I love that this movie shows the consequences if something like that were to happen in real life.
Three: No matter how afraid or insecure Elsa was about her powers, her main priority was always protecting her sister and anyone else from them. At the end she learns to embrace them as a part of who she is and isn’t afraid to be herself in front of anyone. She shows it is OK to be different and that we should celebrate it.
Four: The obvious, it wasn’t the man who saved the day. Men helped and hindered along the way, but at the end of the day Ana sacrifice herself, by running away from the man she loved, and chose to save her sister instead. It teaches the next generation something everyone knows but don’t necessarily enforce. It teaches us all that women should not be tearing each other down or view each other as competition. We should know by now that working together only heightens our limits and potential.
I like that Disney are starting to create movies like this; movies which prove that, while men and women work together to achieve their goal, women don’t necessarily need to absolutely rely on a man to save the day. They can rely on each other, or themselves, instead.
Elsa [singing]: “I don’t care what they’re going to say, let the storm rage on… It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small. And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all… It’s time to see what I can do. To test the limits and break through”
Elsa: “You can’t marry a man you just met”
Anna [to Hans]: “You’re no match for Elsa”
Anna [to Hans]: “The only frozen heart around here is yours” [She turns, but then whips around and punches him in the face]
Elsa: “You sacrificed yourself for me?”
Anna: “I love you”
I know there are so many incredible female characters from books, movies, television to which we can all aspire and learn. These are only a few of my faviourites, both growing up and the more recent on my radar.
I feel privileged that I was able to grow up in an era of such fantastic fictional female characters. Each of them taught me something different in their own way.
I do hope young girls growing up today have similar characters in their lives. The characters who inspire you to be part of something great, to put your stamp on the world and leave your mark. The ones who prove time and time again that there are people who love you exactly as you are, and while trying to ‘fit in’ is understandable, it will not make you happy if you have to compromise who you are as a person. Each of these characters are unique, they don’t necessarily fit in with the ‘norm’ of their time. They stand out and take a stand for what they believe is right, something we should encourage in every girl and woman.