Inspiration comes from a plethora of places. For most people, a fictional character from a 2001 romantic comedy is not the first source of serious life-inspiration. I, however, am not most people and faithfully live my life according to the guidance of Elle Woods. If you are not familiar with Legally Blonde, please remove yourself from this blog immediately, go watch the iconic film, and then return here and resume your reading.
Now that I’ve streamlined my audience to those who understand the artistry of Legally Blonde, or are at least somewhat familiar with such iconic phrases as “bend and snap” and “what? Like it’s hard?”, I can get down to the real message of this post – My idolization and emulation of Elle Woods is totally rational and should be accepted as a serious response to the question – what do I want to be when I grow up (ok, people stopped asking this in like grade 3, but I couldn’t think of another way to phrase it).
I vividly remember my first encounter with Elle. I was up early one Sunday morning, sitting in my dad’s bed surfing through channels on the TV. I had already sifted through the classics – Family, Teletoon, YTV – and was less than thrilled with what they had to offer (in retrospect, not sure how I could have ever gotten bored of watching That’s So Raven and Scooby-Doo). As I was mindlessly flipping through, I stopped as the screen was covered with pink sequins and the most fabulous looking person I had ever seen. Due to the hypnotic properties of sequins, I was transfixed. Once my eyes had adjusted to the sparkle, I watched as Elle, a blonde, sorority girl from LA, chased her heartthrob to Harvard Law, only to discover that if she was going to be a partner in a law firm by the time she was 30, she would need a boyfriend who wasn’t such a complete bonehead. After watching the movie, I proudly proclaimed to my parents that I was going to go to Harvard Law. The two of them were ecstatic that I had decided I wanted to be a lawyer. They both assumed my passion for the law stemmed from their chosen career paths and were flattered that I wanted to grow up to be just like them. I was quick to burst that bubble when I explained to them that I wanted to be just like Elle.
Throughout the years, Elle always remained at the back of my brain. It wasn’t until university that Elle Woods truly came to the forefront of my mind and I began to live according to the philosophy WWED (what would Elle do?). Elle always resonated with me. We are both women who embrace our femininity and somewhat adhere to the stereotypical “blonde” persona while wanting to be taken seriously and show the world that we can do “something more with [our] life than become a Victoria’s Secret model”. But it is her perseverance, kindness, and authenticity to self that has granted her the spot as my life inspiration.
For those unfamiliar with the plot of Legally Blonde (though by now you really should be), the movie begins with Elle excitedly preparing for her date with boyfriend (and total bonehead), Warner Huntington III, because she knows that on this date he will propose to her and all her dreams will come true. The night takes a quick turn when Warner breaks up with Elle, claiming that he needs to be with someone more serious. Heartbroken by this blow, Elle crafts a plan to get back the love of her life. She will meet him at Harvard and prove to him how serious she can be. After an a-typical admission essay, featuring an iconic sequined bikini and legal jargon, Elle gets accepted into the prestigious law school. Initially, intent on winning back the love of her life, Elle forgoes her studies and, instead, focuses on Warner. It takes Warner telling Elle that she is “never going to be smart enough for lessons in law”, for her to forget the butthead and become a kick-ass lawyer, solving the murder case of the decade.
Elle’s perseverance shines throughout the movie (almost as brightly as her pink suits). From convincing her academic advisor that a 4.0 in fashion merchandising was a valid degree for law school, to persuading the admission board at Harvard to “vote for her. Elle Woods: future lawyer of the class of 2004”, to proving that her good looks were not a hindrance to her intelligence, Elle proves that everything is possible with a little bit of determination. Despite everyone’s relentless efforts to tear her down and push her into a one-dimensional personality, Elle eventually proves to them that with enough dedication and relentlessness, you can become whatever it is you wish. This is a lesson I try to carry with me in everything I do. No matter how hard something may appear to be, if Elle could get into and succeed at Harvard, I can do anything. Isn’t it time we start facing our challenges with the attitude “What? Like it’s hard?”.
Another quality that Elle possesses that I try to emulate in my everyday life, is her unwavering kindness. As the blonde, most popular girl at her school, Elle carries with her the expectation of extreme bitchiness. We’ve seen it in a million movies (and sometimes in real life) – Sydney White, Mean Girls, The DUFF, High School Musical – the popular, (usually blonde) girl is the antagonist of the movie, causing extreme distress to the lovable, dorky main character. Elle, however, flips this narrative on its head. Instead of using her social status to undermine those around her, she uses her influence to uplift. In the first courtroom scene, Elle and her female rival – Vivian, encounter each other in the elevator. Rather than, harassing Viv or ignoring her, Elle compliments her outfit, taking both Vivian off guard and reinforcing the notion that the popular girl does not always have to use her popularity to berate others. Elle’s kindness is highlighted throughout the film. She helps Paulette, her “middle-aged high school dropout with stretch marks and a fat ass” beautician, stand up to her loser ex-husband and finesse the hunky UPS guy. She helps Dorky David Kidney in his helpless attempt to procure a girl’s number and she encourages an entire salon of women to embrace their sexuality and to “bend and snap” their way to success. I try to embody Elle’s unwavering kindness and positivity in every encounter I have with others. I make sure to not judge others and use my skills to help those around me.
Finally, the most important facet of Elle’s character is Elle’s strong sense of self. I believe it is fair to say that Legally Blonde is a story of identity and an important lesson in maintaining faith in yourself. Elle never dulls her shine or tones back her personality to fit into the mold of the “typical lawyer”. In fact, it is Elle’s unique admission video that gets her a spot at Harvard, her allegiance to the bonds of sisterhood that persuade her client to trust her fully, and her knowledge of perm maintenance that leads to her victory in the courtroom. Elle knows who she is and does not let anyone try to change her. This is a concept that I have embraced fully in my first year of university. I have come to learn that the best way to be successful is to be true to yourself. As cliché as it may be, clichés are often cliché for a reason.
So, I challenge you to find your own Elle Woods. Find someone/something that inspires you to be the best version of yourself. Your inspiration may not be a pinkly clad, blonde sorority girl but don’t negate fictional characters as valid forms of inspiration. Because, hey, if I get a 179 on my LSAT and get into Harvard, it won’t matter that I did it to be more like Elle Woods. Now get off this page and go watch the best movie of our generation.