The Feminism of Legally Blonde

By Anjali Nayak 

Although constantly written off as a cheesy chick flick, Legally Blonde deserves praise as a feminist classic. Sorority girl turned law student Elle Woods trailblazes a message necessary but often lacking from modern feminism: You do not have to change who you are to be successful in the world. 

The creation of the “dumb blonde” stereotype is attributed to “Les Curiosites de La Foire.” A satirical play following the life of Rosalie Duthe, who has a reputation for pausing for extended periods before speaking, thus wrongly attributing stupidity to women with blonde hair. The stereotype of a “dumb blonde” exaggerates and makes fun of feminity overall. Suddenly, wearing pink, acting promiscuous, and going shopping are ditzy and particularly unmasculine traits. 

After getting into the highly acclaimed Harvard Law School, Elle constantly faces persecution due to her womanly self-expression. Often recognized as a hyper-feminine shell of a human being, she gets scrutinized due to her hyper femininity. However, Elle never sacrifices her flamboyant identity. Woods reverses the dumb blonde stereotype not by straying away from her true self, but by embracing it. Woods attends classes decked out in makeup and pink, in a typical girly fashion. In the fight for equality, women have repeatedly opted to look “manly” to be taken seriously. But instead of imitating the actions of her oppressors, Elle embraces her quirks. 

Elle Woods tells the story of female resilience in a male-dominated field. Her shiny pearls and pink pantsuits represent the embrace of feminine qualities and ideals, which are usually seen as frivolously weak. Legally Blonde proves that to succeed, women do not have to stray away from their true identity.