Opinion

What “Legally Blonde” Teaches the Female Society of Today

By: REGAN HENNING

It’s safe to say the blonde stereotype has been circulating for quite a while, and if that misconception wasn’t enough, the outlook on women’s success has always been doubted as well. These topics are both addressed and debunked all in a one hour and thirty six minute period by none other than a naive young girl blindly following what she thinks is the love of her life…straight into law school.

Residing in LA, president of her sorority, Elle Woods is living her dream life with the perfect guy. Things seem to be doing good and Elle is under the impression that her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III, is going to propose. When he breaks up with her instead, she becomes heartbroken and confused because her whole life revolved around him. Since she knows Warner’s going to Harvard, Elle is determined to get accepted too, in hopes of winning him back when he sees how serious she’s taking her education and career.

Despite her being a blonde and considered a joke, she is an example student with a 4.0 GPA. Her hard work pays off and she is accepted into Harvard Law School. She is unprepared at first and even makes a few enemies, all while battling her desperateness to win Warner back, even after all the insults he’s thrown at her and finding out he’s engaged. While watching this movie, we may get irritated by Elle’s inability to stand up for herself at the beginning of the movie. However, many women are in the same predicament, as it’s a difficult act to speak one’s mind. Women have had to deal with the idea that if they don’t have a man, they’re nothing or won’t be successful in life. It’s not easy for them to stand up for themselves, especially in 2001 when there weren’t as many movements and events that rose awareness that women are just as important, just as strong, and can do anything men can do.

Continuing on in the plot, Elle goes to the salon to calm down from her heartbreak. While there, she meets her soon to be best friend, Paulette. She tells Elle about her past and how her ex-husband left her and took her dog. Since being in law school for a while, she has some background and helps Paulette to go and confront her ex and get her dog back. This idea of girls helping girls is crucial because it gives them the confidence to do things for themselves and not give in to social constructs or people trying to control them.

With a new found confidence, Elle puts in a lot more effort and starts succeeding in her classes. Taking advice from upperclassmen Emmett, she continues to work her way up to the top of the class and is awarded with an internship with Professor Callahan, one of the best lawyers. This is a huge accomplishment especially for the girl that everyone doubted solely on her looks. Unfortunately, while there, her and the other girl, Vivian, were treated badly and only used to get coffee for the men. This has been a big problem, but now more than ever, women everywhere are working for rights and equality in the workplace. In 2019, women have made a lot of progress and are in a much better place than when this movie took place, but it’s still a work in progress.

Progressing through, more confidence is built within Elle. Warner sees how good she’s doing and starts showing some interest but is shut down really quickly when Elle won’t put up with it. This results in the tensions between Elle and Vivian, Warner’s fiance, to ease and they even form a friendship. The power women get from coming together and bonding over a bad experience they have shared, is on another level. It gives them a certain strength and makes them feel not as alone. It is very important for women to empower other women and this theme is shown many times throughout the film and how effective it can be.

The client the intern team has to work with is Brooke Taylor Windham, one of Elle’s idols. Everyone thinks she is guilty but Elle doesn’t believe she could do something as drastic as killing her husband. She works hard and gets Brooke’s alibi but it’s embarrassing and could ruin her career, so she promises that she won’t tell anyone what Brooke was doing at the time of the murder. Stuck in the case, no one knows what to do, until Elle notices that the pool boy, that claimed to be having an affair with Brooke, is gay. Emmett gets him to admit it and they survive another accusation. This leads everyone to have more faith in Elle and they take her more seriously.

Callahan has become very pleased with her and praises her for the accomplishments she’s made. However, things take a turn when he tries to use his authority and power over her to try and feel her up. She quickly gets up and runs out of his office. This encounter causes Elle to believe that she’s not good or smart enough and the only reason she made it this far was because of her looks.

Her bags are packed and she’s ready to go back to LA where she feels is the only place she’ll belong. She makes one last stop at the salon where she runs into one of her professors and she tells Elle to not give up and that quitting now won’t make things better. The professor gives her back that feeling of hope and determination. This is another case where we see women helping and supporting other women. When a girl is assaulted by an man on any scale, it can be traumatizing and easy for them to feel awful about themselves. Recently the movement #MeToo has gained a lot of attention and it’s for survivors of of sexual violence and to try and end it. It helps to lessen the feeling of being alone and helps the survivors reach out and share their stories. This has had a huge positive impact with women and when Elle shows her strength her being able to overcome it, it gives girls the courage to do the same.

With everyone informed of what Callahan did to Elle, they are all against him. Brooke fires him as her lawyer and hires Elle with Emmett as her supervisor. The opposing lawyer happily obliges as she sees this as an easy win. At first, Elle gets off to a rocky start, as this is her first time doing this. She asks some of the same questions over and over again and everyone, including the judge, is getting fed up. Things continue in a downward spiral until Elle notices one mistake in the story of the daughter. She said she got a perm but her alibi was that she was in the shower. Elle, being a fashion major, knew that if you had a perm and got it wet, the curls would come undone but the daughters were perfectly intact, meaning she lied about the shower. She addresses this and actually gets the daughter to admit to killing her father, getting Brooke off the hook.

With everyone utterly shocked with the outcome, no one really knew how to react. Very few believed that Elle could actually pull it off but she did. She fought all the labels and hardships up to this point. She won her first case and did a much better job than Callahan ever did, showing just how smart she actually is. She achieved so much in just her first year at law school even with all the odds stacked against her. Her journey allowed her to know her worth and know she’s much more than a pretty face, as soon as she realized this, she cut Warner out of her life and went on to marry Emmett who treated her right and never doubted her.

She graduated top of her class and was chosen to speak at the graduation. She went from the new girl that no one liked to one of the best that everyone respected. This movie gives us hope and shows that stereotypes aren’t always right, and that being a woman doesn’t mean you have to settle for anything or anyone. It is a beacon of hope for girls everywhere as they may not see themselves as good or strong enough. This movie portrays it all, showing the dissatisfying history of society and how we can overcome it if we stay true to ourselves and never give up. Legally Blonde shows that a young woman can get a career that’s just as hard or important one a man could do. Elle teaches that first impressions can’t be used to figure someone out and that people and life are full of surprises, some are good, others are bad, but as long as there is hope and love, there’s a really good chance they will be able to overcome anything.

Categories: Opinion

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