Last night, one of my best friends and I reminisced on our college-girl dreams while watching The Devil Wears Prada. We realized that we both one day aspired to take on a role like that of Meryl Streep’s character (the “Devil” of the movie). Then, it made me think how much my dreams have evolved over the years and how some movies did pinpoint certain areas of my professional independence.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the following are movies that helped shape me professionally and as an independent woman.
1. Legally Blonde
I fell in love with this movie the first time that I saw it. I loved the fact that our heroine, played by Reese Witherspoon, beats all of the odds. People underestimate her intelligence and common sense because of her cute face and upbringing. Not only that, but she proves THE MAN wrong.
2. Erin Brockovich
Julia Roberts played a role as another woman who worked against the odds, except on the opposite end of the spectrum. Erin Brockovich highlights the work of a mouthy female activist willing to stop at nothing to fight for what she truly felt was right. Not to mention that she wore whatever the hell she wanted.
3. The Color Purple
This movie proves the growth of the woman throughout history. We were once supposed to accept physical and sexual abuse and men doing their own thing with whomever. With the rise of Whoopi Goldberg’s character, through much hurt and pain, she overcomes her past and shows her strength despite life’s shortcomings. By the end, she manages to open her own seamstress shop.
4. Steel Magnolias
Brought up as a Southern Belle, Steel Magnolias taught me all that a woman should be: a complete package. These were classy Southern women with a sassy ladylike bond that I loved. The movie took place in the haven of all Southern women – the hair salon – where everything from domestic abuse and independence were discussed.
5. Waiting to Exhale
The story of the four women in this movie prove that men are not a necessity and undergo a series of different “men” battles. I’m sure that we have all envisioned ourselves burning the “trash” like Angela Bassett at some point or another. Regardless of their lack of faith in men, they all manage to rise and progress within their personal and professional lives.
6. What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Tina Turner, played by Angela Bassett, showed us how a woman can come from the rural South, take a chance, fall in love, and become a mega superstar. More importantly, she showed us how to take a leap in faith and leave a “comfortable” situation for the hope of something better. After years of physical and sexual abuse, Turner fought for her name and her independence of a controlling man and continued to soar in her career.
7. A League of Their Own
I loved this movie since the age of 4. I loved watching the women take a major role in American history while men were no longer able to fulfill their duties at home due to the War. Not only for the fact that it stars Geena Davis (and her amazing IQ), but the culture and dominance of the women in the cast were outstanding. Afterwards, I served as the record-keeper and managed the scoreboard for all of my brother’s baseball games while growing up.
8. The Devil Wears Prada
This film channeled my inner artist: fashion-guru and writer. I always imagined myself being ONSTAGE and on the forefront, but Meryl Streep’s character helped me realize that the real respect many times comes from “the creator”. She was a boss and stopped at nothing for her career to always be on top; it was a role that I always saw myself taking. No matter what you aspire to be in life, be the absolute BEST that you can be. Always know that you put forth your best effort.
Those eight films definitely helped shape me into the woman I am today. I was inspired by the women in the movies and the roles that they played. Of course, there are some other honorable mentions that did not completely define me, but the female characters and the messages presented in the movies certainly proved that there were other trendsetters and positive role models.
- G. I. Jane – Equality for men AND women.
- Thelma and Louise – Not letting a man do whatever he pleases and get away with it.
- Mona Lisa Smile – Fighting the status quo.
- Set It Off – Women can be dangerous too.
- Selena – There’s always a chance to be the first of something.
- Chicago – Setting 1930s in complete crime and chaos.
- The Witches of Eastwick – Women banding together to show a man who’s boss.
- Miss Congeniality – Brains and THEN beauty.
Sometimes we have to be sassy and a little sexy, but confident and dominant women in film are refreshing. It is time that we break away from the constant damsel in distress and start laying down the railroad tracks ourselves.
Power on and happy Women’s History Month!