Today we are celebrating Kick-Ass Fictional Female Characters.
I centred my first post around International Women’s Day. Some time has passed and I thought, perhaps it’s too late to write posts surrounding and celebrating women.
Then I had a different thought. It is never too late to talk about women in a positive way.
In my first post I focused on female authors, their novels and strong female characters. Today’s post is very similar however, I am looking at a variety of entertainment mediums.
“You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself” – Elle Woods: Legally Blonde
Established: Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen
These are ‘Established’ in the sense that I spoke about both of these in great detail previously however; I view them as such important role-models, and therefore I had to include them in this list.
1. Charmed: Prudence, Piper & Phoebe Halliwell; Paige Matthews
I was a big fan of Charmed growing up. To date it is probably one of my all-time favourite TV shows. When I was younger I loved the supernatural and sister-hood element and while I still do, as I grew older it became clear that the show was more than that. The women are all strong; confident; caring; loyal; funny; witty people who have their fair share of successes and failures.
Prudence (Prue) Halliwell
The oldest of the four sisters, when she knew what she wanted she was never afraid to go and get it. Prue was outspoken, fiercely protective, confident and in control. There were moments of insecurity however, that is also incredibly important to see in incredibly strong characters. It shows that insecurity is normal and it helps you to grow as a person. Whenever Prue was down, you knew she wasn’t down for long.
“Billy, it’s the 21st Century. It’s the woman’s job to save the day” Prue Halliwell – Season 2 Episode 18.
Throughout Charmed’s eight seasons, Piper transformed from a peace-keeper and mediator into a force of nature.
We watched as she became confident in herself, her choices and her abilities.
I believe Pipers character evolved the most throughout the eight seasons the show aired. She was the middle sister and the eldest; she was a wife and a mother; she was an enemy and a friend. She handled everything the best she could and she pulled through every single time the universe tried to bring her down.
Through each and every obstacle, her will and determination to fight for the people she loved never wore thin. She is the embodiment of never giving up on your dreams.
“I can’t just give up. I don’t know how” – Piper Halliwell: Season 5 Episode 23
When we first met Phoebe she was the youngest sister who lived life on the edge. She was carefree with hardly any responsibilities.
Phoebe’s relationship with Prue is a great example of sisterly relationships. It shows that even family isn’t always perfect but at the end of the day, they should come through for you in your times of need, no matter what. I can’t help but think of me and my sister, how we could be at each others throats one minute and laughing over something else entirely the next.
We saw Phoebe trial and error in both love and career. Though she started out as the youngest who was afraid she wouldn’t amount to anything, she ended up as a successful newspaper advice columnist. She had always felt insecure next to her sisters however, she was unique. She had her own smarts and learned to love herself for them. It was rare to see her without a smile on her face, and she always tried to bring joy to others. Most of all she was always ready to take on a new challenge and never tried to change into something she wasn’t, she was herself through and through.
“I’m no angel, I’m a witch” – Phoebe Halliwell: Season 1 Episode 5
Similar to Phoebe, Paige was a free spirit, independent and forward-thinking. Upon first learning of her destiny, initially she was terrified however, was quick to learn the craft whilst maintaining her own identity. Paige took most things in her stride and whenever she faced a problem she was quick to think of a creative method to solve it.
“I choose to be a witch. I could have walked away. But I didn’t” – Paige Matthews: Season 5 Episode 9
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy Summers
There is so much to say about this show and character. Some might say that she is only considered ‘strong’ because of her enhanced capabilities. I don’t believe this is true.
At times, strength has nothing to do with ‘lifting weights at the gym’ and everything to do with the strength of a persons character. Never giving up. Protecting your loved ones and, at times, standing up for people you dislike.
There is a lot to say about Buffy, so I decided to let her do the talking.
Angelus: “No weapons.. no friends.. no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?”
Buffy: “…Me” – Season 2 Episode 22
“Things have really sucked lately, but it’s all going to change. And I want to be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again. And I want to see you grow up. The woman you’re going to become. Because she’s going to be beautiful. And she’s going to be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don’t want to protect you from the world, I want to show it to you” – Season 6 Episode 22
“Seize the moment, ’cause tomorrow you might be dead” – Season 1 Episode 1
“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live” – Season 5 Episode 22
“No guy is worth your life. Not ever” – Season 7 Episode 6
These are just a few of my favourite lines from Buffy herself. Yes, there is a team of both men and women behind this however, that is not the point. The point is they are spoken through her, and for a young girl to see that image can ignite a spark, and it can stay with you forever.
“I always find a way. I am the thing monsters have nightmares about” – Season 7 Episode 11
3. The Addams Family Values: Wednesday Addams
No I do not advocate violence, or homicide for that matter. I’m not saying that we should all look up to her for inspiration in everyday life, but I think this character offers something else to be admired.
Wednesday Addams is so unlike any other young girl on screen. One reason is her dark sense of humour. With her sharp tongue and witty comebacks, it’s safe to say she to me she is the funniest character in the whole movie.
Another obvious element of her uniqueness is that she knows she is different from everyone else and she does not care. Throughout the film we do not see her try to change or compromise who herself. She never doubts herself for a second. She is confident; resourceful and, though seems to find most normal things distasteful, she genuinely cares for her family.
Also, another aspect to her personality which, as far as I can tell, is usually overlooked is her intelligence. Numerous times she has shown herself to be intelligent by teaching her younger brother, plus her ability to communicate with adults and out-wit or out-think them on various occasions.
Gary: “Now, one of you will be the drowning victim and the other one gets to be our lifesaver”
Amanda: “I’ll be the victim”
Wednesday: “All your life”
Wednesday: “Be afraid, be very afraid”
4. The Swan Princess: Odette
This was my favourite film growing up.
When I was younger I loved the the story, the characters and I found the imagery mesmerising.
I watched it recently and realised there was another reason why I loved it.
Yes, there was humour which I didn’t see before, but there was also an element that other animated princess movies didn’t necessarily have at the time. Odette, from a young girl, was tough and unafraid to speak her mind. At the beginning we see her silently challenge Prince Derek to a wrestling match and best him at a number of different activities.
As they got older, she also refused the arranged marriage to him after the only reason he declared was her beauty.
When the evil enchanter, Rothbart, kidnapped Odette, she refused to give in to her captor at every turn – no. matter the consequences to herself.
This is such a fun movie with delightful characters, funny scenes and characters and wondrous animation. The best part for me is that we’re shown a woman who plays a pretty active role in getting what she wants. It still has ‘the hero saves the day’ quirk, it was made in 1994, but Odette’s character at the time was so impressive to a young girl like me growing up.
Prince Derek: “You’re all I’ve ever wanted. You’re beautiful”
Odette: “Thank You. But what else?”
Odette: “I need to know that he loves me.. for just being me”
Odette: “Every night you ask me the same question. And every night I give you the same answer.. I’ll die first”
5. Lorien Legacies: Six
Lorien Legacies is a series of 10 books which starts with I Am Number Four.
Six is one of four main female characters in this series. She is witty, tough, well versed in hand-to-hand combat and an expert in weapons. Six doesn’t back down from a fight, but knows when it’s time to get herself, and the people she cares for, out of danger. She remains calm in stressful situations and is well-known for her quick decision making and capability to stay collected when facing adversaries. Six is also shown to be on the same level, if not stronger and more skilled, in combat as her male counterparts.
I love this being shown in a female character. Women are strong, resilient, powerful and intelligent. They are also kind, loving and caring. Too many times we are shown female characters who are one or the other. We are all of these. Strong women are not emotionless and caring for others does not make you weak.
“I know what I am capable of; I’m a soldier now, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt”
6. Frozen: Elsa & Anna
I’ve decided to combine these two, and yes I’m going to talk about the aspect that everyone talks about when they watch this movie – their sisterhood.
I found this movie to be great in many ways.
Firstly, Anna didn’t look perfect and act chipper when she woke up in the morning. This might be shallow but, as much as I love Cinderella, who wakes up looking incredible and singing about their dreams?
Anna also teaches you to never give up on the people you love;
Secondly, It tackled a very outdated animated issue of ‘You can’t marry a man you just met” nor can you really know a person you just met, let alone declare your love after one day. I love that this movie shows the consequences if something like that were to happen in real life.
Three: No matter how afraid or insecure Elsa was about her powers, her main priority was always protecting her sister and anyone else from them. At the end she learns to embrace them as a part of who she is and isn’t afraid to be herself in front of anyone. She shows it is OK to be different and that we should celebrate it.
Four: The obvious, it wasn’t the man who saved the day. Men helped and hindered along the way, but at the end of the day Ana sacrifice herself, by running away from the man she loved, and chose to save her sister instead. It teaches the next generation something everyone knows but don’t necessarily enforce. It teaches us all that women should not be tearing each other down or view each other as competition. We should know by now that working together only heightens our limits and potential.
I like that Disney are starting to create movies like this; movies which prove that, while men and women work together to achieve their goal, women don’t necessarily need to absolutely rely on a man to save the day. They can rely on each other, or themselves, instead.
Elsa [singing]: “I don’t care what they’re going to say, let the storm rage on… It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small. And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all… It’s time to see what I can do. To test the limits and break through”
Elsa: “You can’t marry a man you just met”
Anna [to Hans]: “You’re no match for Elsa”
Anna [to Hans]: “The only frozen heart around here is yours” [She turns, but then whips around and punches him in the face]
Elsa: “You sacrificed yourself for me?”
Anna: “I love you”
I know there are so many incredible female characters from books, movies, television to which we can all aspire and learn. These are only a few of my favourites, both growing up and the more recent on my radar.
I feel privileged that I was able to grow up in an era of such fantastic fictional female characters. Each of them taught me something different in their own way.
I do hope young girls growing up today have similar characters in their lives. The characters who inspire you to be part of something great, to put your stamp on the world and leave your mark. The ones who prove time and time again that there are people who love you exactly as you are, and while trying to ‘fit in’ is understandable, it will not make you happy if you have to compromise who you are as a person. Each of these characters are unique, they don’t necessarily fit in with the ‘norm’ of their time. They stand out and take a stand for what they believe is right, something we should encourage in every girl and woman.
Originally posted 20th March 2016