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In 2001, the world was introduced to Elle Woods, a bright and bubbly sorority girl who defied all stereotypes associated with her ditzy blonde appearance and fashion merchandising degree in the comedy “Legally Blonde.” The film, directed by Robert Luketic, quickly became a cult classic, inspiring countless girls and women to challenge gender norms and pursue their dreams. The story follows Elle, played by Reese Witherspoon, and her determined attempts to win back her ex-boyfriend by getting into Harvard Law School. What follows is a hilarious and heartwarming tale of female empowerment and the importance of staying true to oneself. The popularity of this movie is perplexing; what exactly about “Legally Blonde” makes it still so popular today?
At the heart of “Legally Blonde” is a message of female empowerment that challenges traditional gender roles and expectations. The movie dismantles the idea that women should be confined to certain professions or lifestyles, and encourages them to pursue their passions without fear of judgment or criticism. For starters, “Legally Blonde” was one of the first mainstream comedies to feature a female lead who was unabashedly feminine. Elle loves pink, enjoys shopping, and takes pride in her appearance. Yet, she is also incredibly intelligent and capable, and uses her intellectual and persuasive skills to succeed in law school and in court. This fashion-forward sorority girl proves that intelligence and femininity are not mutually exclusive and that women can be successful in any field they choose. Washington sophomore and WHS Mock Trial member, Nina Rock, volunteers her thoughts on the film: “Legally Blonde is different. In chick flicks like “Mean Girls,’ being feminine is limiting. You can’t do anything other than look pretty and follow these very stereotypical rules. In Legally Blond you can still like the color pink, you can still like dresses, and do all these feminine things while still being smart. It’s very empowering for young people, not just girls.”
Elle’s message has resonated not only with those seeking careers in law or pursuing fields traditionally dominated by men. Her journey reminds us that nobody should ever be discouraged from pursuing their dreams. The film’s message of resilience and determination in the face of adversity has resonated with audiences worldwide, empowering those who often feel undervalued and overlooked.
The impact of “Legally Blonde” on popular culture is undeniable. The movie has spawned a sequel and a Broadway musical. Its impact on fashion is also noteworthy, with Elle’s signature pink wardrobe becoming an iconic look that has been replicated in countless films and TV shows. Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Elle has also helped to launch her career not only as an actress, but as a feminist advocate. The film’s enduring popularity is a testament to its cultural value and its ability to inspire positive change. As we celebrate over 20 years of “Legally Blonde,” it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the film’s legacy and the impact it has had on our society.
Ava Paine is a current senior at Washington High School; this is her first year at The Hatchet. Born and raised in Fremont, she is interested in reviewing local restaurants and books. Ava is varsity captain of the girls tennis team, participates in varsity cheerleading, and is president of WHS Interact and WHS Model UN. In her free time she loves to bake, take care of her houseplants, play with her labrador retriever, read, and listen to Taylor Swift. In the future, she hopes to study international relations or law.