“She proves that a strong woman can have it all” -8 twenty-something women on the female characters that inspire them

Happy International Women’s Day! In honour of today, I’ve asked some of the kind, amazing, and strong young women I am lucky to call my friends which female characters in movies they look up to. Here’s what they had to say *does the Mockingjay whistle*…

1. Matilda (Mara Wilson) in Matilda

Although she has been mistreated and exposed to negativity her entire life, Matilda always looks towards the positive and never lets anyone get her down.”

Doro, 27, PhD-student

2. Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) in Erin Brockovich

“As a young girl that movie had such an intense impact on me. I remember watching it in the theatre – I was 11 – and there was this unapologetically strong, independent woman who was dealt a difficult hand in life but who had this unshakable determination to make life better for herself and her children, and more than that for the people around her. To actually stand up for what she knew to be right. I was and still am a huge Julia Roberts fan and the fact that it was based on a real story, a real woman, made it that much more significant. I will never forget that scene where Erin gets the copies that she needs to prove her theory and she’s doing it by using her ridiculously huge cleavage to her advantage. I just loved that! It’s turning the game around and saying ‘yeah, boys will be boys so we might as well turn the tables.'”


Yeshe, 27, actress

3. All the women in Fried Green Tomatoes

“For me, this film really captures the essence of female empowerment. It’s about an insecure housewife (Kathy Bates) approaching menopause who makes the acquaintance of a joyful elderly woman who tells her about her friend Idgie (Mary Stuart-Masterson), who lived in Georgia in the 1920s and 30s. Idgie is strong-headed, rebellious, and non-conform. She makes friends with an upright, shy woman named Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker) but when the latter gets married and moves away, the two of them lose touch for a while. When Idgie sees Ruth again a few years later, she learns that she is abused by her husband and saves her from him. The two women open a café and eventually enter a romantic relationship. Listening to Idgie’s tale is a transforming experience for the insecure housewife Evelyn, as it inspires her to be more confident and daunting in her own life.”

Anke, 25, product operations manager, wrote her BA-thesis on gender representation in 1950s advertisements


4. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in The Hunger Games

“Katniss proves that a strong woman can have it all! She is brave, clever, and heroic. More importantly, the love of her life isn’t Peeta or Gale, or any man for that matter, but her baby sister Primrose. Finally Hollywood gives us a story about a heroine that defies patriarchal conventions and turns stereotypes on their heads. Keep up the good work, please!”

Catarina, 26, is currently writing her MA-thesis on female characters in DIsney movies

5. Hilary o’Neil (Julia Roberts) in Dying Young

“Cancer only recently made an appearance in my life and now I understand how much strength it takes to love someone who is in a real battle for their life.  This kind of love is not only about support and caring. It’s about battling your own doubts and demons every second of the day, learning how to smile when your whole world is crumbling around you, saying ‘goodnight’ and knowing it could be the last time, and then waking up the next morning to do it all over again with a smile on your face, thanking God for a new day. It gives a new meaning to the word ‘partner’ and, for me personally, it redefines the world ‘love’.”

Julia Tsukanova
Julia, 25, headhunter

6. Rani (Kangana Ranaut) in the Hindi movie Queen

This is a love story, about falling in love with life and yourself. It teaches women that they have the right and choice to be free and happy – without a man by their side.”

Verena, 26, recently became a mother and is determined to raise her daughter as a feminist

7. The Rockford Peaches in A League of their own

“During World War II when all the men were off to fight, baseball teams owners across America decided to form the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, so the sport could continue. A league of their own tells the story of two sisters, Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) who join the “Rockford Peaches”, coached by Tom Hanks’ character Jimmy Dugan. I really like the team-spirit of the movie: instead of bringing each other down, the women on the team work together and help each other out off the field as well, like when they teach Shirley how to read. Moreover, the film ends with Dottie, who is a terrific baseball player, deciding to retire to become a mother. One might argue that her decision affirms traditional gender roles and as such is a set-back for feminism, but I think that would be missing the point: because feminism is about having a choice in the first place.

Charlotte, 26, reseach associate to the Dean

8. Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) in Mona Lisa Smile

“Wow, Julia Roberts really cleaned up in this survey. While I love her as Erin Brockovich, the character that made the biggest impression on me is the art teacher in Mona Lisa Smile which is sort of the female answer to Dead Poets Society in that it encourages young women to think for themselves. Rather than accepting the fact that all of her students will become mothers and wives, Katherine is determined to present them with an alternative: go to graduate school, get a job, live an independent life and have a shot at self-actualisation. The scene where she faces off against her class (including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnifer Goodwyn, and Julia Stiles) after Betty (Kirsten Dunst) publishes a take-down piece on her in the school’s newspaper is outstanding – “I  didn’t realise that by demanding excellence, I would be challenging, what did the article say, ‘the roles you were born to fill'” – it gives me chills every time.

Central Park (8)
Anna, 27, editor in training and blogger for The Perfect Film

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