From Superheros To Teen Feminists - My Favourite Films With Strong Female Leads
Movie stars and movie characters can act as role models for young girls. They are being bombarded by Disney Princesses and beauty queens in movies that give unrealistic expectations about, not only what women are like, but what these young girls can aspire to be. We need to teach them that their ‘happily ever after’ is not dependent on a man, that they don’t need to be quiet and submissive and ‘lady-like’. Instead, we need to be making and promoting movies that give strong role-models for these girls to look up to.
Here are my favourite movies that have strong female leads:
Wonder Woman -
This 2017 film based around the DC comics character is a great example of a strong female lead. It follows Diana, Princess of the Amazons, on her journey to become Wonder Woman. There are some arguments that this film objectifies Gal Gadot, as she runs around in sexualised clothing, but I disagree. It’s a cultural reset: having thighs, actual thighs you can kick things with, not thighs that look like arms, is a feminist act. Furthermore, the myth surrounding Diana, women safeguarding the world from male violence not with nurture but with better violence also promotes strong girls! In fact, this film is full of strong female characters, such as Diana’s aunt Antiope, the axe wielding leader of the Amazon army and even evil Dr Maru, who is smarter and more powerful than the majority of men in the movie - these women break stereotypes.
I felt that I had to include a Disney film due to my negative introduction of them in the opening paragraph. I actually love Disney films, especially the newer ones. I feel that older Disney films don’t give young girls the right messages about what they should want or expect from life. That’s what makes Moana so great! She sets off entirely on her own to save the world. She does end up with Maui, but he constantly undermines her before eventually bailing - yet she continues on strong. This heroine, who even claims that she isn’t a princess, continues to fight for what she believes in through the whole movie. Anything thing I love is that there is no love interest, Moana is fiercely independent, teaching young girls that they don’t need a man in order to succeed!
10 Things I Hate About You -
This modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew is another one of my all time favourite films. Main character Kat Stratford is unapologetically herself. She doesn’t care about fitting in or being popular, she just likes what she likes, which I think is a great message to young girls. She is feminist and rebellious, but way kinder then she appears. I do need to point out that her happy ending in the films finale is ending up with Patrick, but here’s why Kat is still one of my favourite female leads - her activist mindset doesn't shut off once she gets a nice boyfriend. Furthermore, she doesn’t compromise her liberal college plans to stay in town for a boy. This is what we should be teaching young girls. That to be a strong women doesn’t mean you can’t get a man, it means not compromising who you are and staying true to yourself even if you find one.
In this 2014 movie, Cheryl Strayed (who wrote the book that this movie is based on) loses her mother and watches her marriage crumble away. She decides to cope with the pain by choosing to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl has no hiking experience and can barely carry the weight of her pack when she begins. But through the extreme physical demands of this goal, and the physical and mental toll it requires of her, she allows herself to heal from the past and focus on the present. What’s so great about this film is that it proves that you can do anything you set your mind to. That it’s ok if it sometimes feels like you can’t cope. This movie is great at showing young girls how important it is to work hard on themselves, on their mental health, and teaching them headspace and how to live in the moment.
Lady Bird -
Lady Bird is the story of a young girl who is unsatisfied with her comparatively drab given name, Christine – assuming instead to go by the name Lady Bird. What I love about this movie, and what sets it aside from other movies, is that it’s a teen film that focuses on self-determination and female bonds, rather than validation from boy. During the film, Lady Bird has 2 love interests, but breaks up with both. However, she doesn’t view either breakdown as a judge of her self worth. Instead, how she values herself is almost entirely self-determined through a sense of her own potential. Furthermore, the 2 most notable relationships in the movie are that of Lady Bird and her best friend and Lady Bird and her mother. Lady Bird is a great film to show girls that they have the right to exist however they would like to and that they are perfectly entitled to follow their ambitions.
Hopefully you also gain inspiration from these strong female leads. There are loads of other films that present strong role models for young girls but these are my favourite ones. I think it’s important to show impressionable young girls that they can be whoever they want to be: headstrong and strong willed, filled with passion and determination, just like these 5 heroines.
Let me know any of your favourite films with strong female leads.
Stay Perfect, Messy People.