Katherine B. Shelor – Jenna from Waitress:
I expect a lot of people have forgotten about this movie, but when I cast back through movies I’ve seen and women I’ve admired, Jenna stood out as the most relatable female character and also one of the strongest. She is in an unhappy and abusive marriage, faces an unwanted pregnancy that could further trap her in that marriage, has an affair with an unhappy man, but in the end finds strength through the child she didn’t want, and leaves both her abusive husband and her lover because neither offered her anything worth having. She is an ordinary woman with ordinary fears and struggles, and I admire her for the way she ultimately casts off the men that were holding her captive (while still being all she knew, and thus representing a familiar life), and goes forward independently.
It must be noted that it is a gift of money from a dying man that allows her to be so independent, but I like to think she would’ve gotten there on her own, anyway.
Redhead at the Movies – Merida from Brave:
Grace Porter – Maude from Harold and Maude:
“Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.” -Maude
I’m not sure how many of my peers have seen this 1971 cult classic. Harold and Maude is a weird fuckin’ film but still my favorite to this day. There are many multidimensional, female characters worthy of this list: the strong, likeable, witty, powerful, smart, badasses who certainly deserve more recognition than they get. But in determining the female character I most admire, that is certainly Maude. Maude is a car-stealing, funeral-crashing, 79-year-old woman, whose traumatic past has seemingly ignited in her a quest to live and love fully. She’s brazen, unapologetic, and certainly eccentric, and Ruth Gordon’s brilliant performance keeps this unforgettable character from turning into a mere caricature. While I identify more with Harold and readily admit Maude and I have little in common, I admire the hell out of her.
Has there ever been a more inspiring female character (and maybe character in general) than eight-year-old Lisa Simpson? I doubt it. Lisa embraces her femininity and realizes that being a woman isn’t a weakness at all but a strength. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, she’s smarter than just about everyone around her, and she strives to be worldly and cultured. Lisa cares about things, really cares, in a way that most people don’t even attempt. Though she sometimes doubts herself, at the end of the day, Lisa knows who she is, and she’s proud of it. When Lisa wants to change something in the world, she gets up and changes it. Lisa Simpson is the ultimate TV feminist, and what a blessing it was to grow up watching her.
Tea Lacson – Mulan from Mulan:
Yes, the Asian picked an Asian woman as the woman she finds most admirable. Despite my insistence to avoid a cliche selection, I cannot deny the fact Mulan continues to inspire me, even through adulthood. My greatest takeaways from Mulan are:
1. Think and act quickly.
2. Show the guys how a woman handles training sessions.
3. Be outspoken.
4. Don’t deny your true self.
These run in the back of my mind, and I continually find a way to make these manifest in myself. Whenever a change occurs in my life, it calls for going Mulan by chopping off all my hair.