I started college in 2016. For a time, I didn’t really have an idea of what it was going to be like. I knew from experiences from my brother, but I was a young woman, so my experience was going to be inherently different from his. One of my favorite pastimes was to watch college movies, from the impeccable Pitch Perfect to Old School and more – but one of my favorites was always Legally Blonde.
The movie, based on a book of the same name, was a huge hit for Reese Witherspoon, and really catapulted her career. A second one came out a couple of years later, and a third one is in the works. As a teenager, I always liked Elle, but never understood her.
Now that I’ve gotten older, graduated college, and went through quite possibly everything a college student could experience, I decided to re-watch Legally Blonde as an adult just for fun, because I always loved seeing Elle Woods' smile and her spunky personality. However, I found myself relating a lot more to her this time around, with the things I appreciated about her hitting much harder now.
I’m just going to start off by saying that this girl got into Harvard because she wanted to. It wasn’t a dream of hers, and it wasn’t because she spent her whole life looking forward to going to grad school there – it was simply because she wanted to get back at her boyfriend for basically calling her dumb.
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Granted, I’m sure the movie itself isn’t super realistic in its portrayal of the application process to the prestigious college, but that doesn’t change the fact that we saw Elle put in the work in order to get accepted there. She studied for hours on end when she really wanted to be out with friends. She would spend her days doing practice tests while the rest of her sorority sisters worked out or had fun.
Even when she was at Harvard, and she had already gotten into the school, Elle was ready to prove herself to anyone who asked. She worked hard to show that she did deserve to be there just as much as Warner did, as much as anyone did, and while she made some mistakes along the way, she’s truly one of the most determined young women I’ve ever seen in a movie or TV show, and it’s a determination that I’ve rarely been able to have myself.
Truth be told, I’ve never even seen this determination from coming of age movies or teen shows or any of that – she set her mind to something and just went for it. Plus, she's just as determined in the second film.
How Incredibly Smart She Is
I could just make this section about how she literally got into Harvard. I’m not sure what the exact acceptance rate is for Harvard Law School but I’m pretty sure that it isn’t something that anyone can easily do. The fact that Elle was able to get a decent enough score on her LSAT’s and get accepted is no easy feat, no matter how you feel about her.
It’s not even just the fact that she got into the school in the first place – it’s that she’s just incredibly smart overall. Before her acceptance, she had a 4.0 in fashion merchandising at California University, Los Angeles, a play on the real University of California, Los Angeles – which is not an easy school to get into. The acceptance rate for UCLA in 2016, the year I went to college, was 18% for California residents. That’s a very hard school to get into.
And she was in fashion – you know, one of the biggest industries in the world. Everyone was laughing at her in the film for being in that business, but in reality, Elle was going to be making major money regardless of which route she decided to take, fashion or law.
We don’t even need to really get into the ending, where she literally used her fashion knowledge to solve a whole murder investigation. That is so incredibly clever. She is so smart without even needing to try, and also learns to keep a level head in stressful situations as the film goes on.
This is just something I’ve come to love over time, because when I was younger, I kind of hated anything pink. Maybe it was because I refused to admit that I liked Barbie as a kid, but now, I can fully say I wish I had Elle’s style.
There are plenty of shows that have come out where I’ve begun to really love the styles of its main female characters, such as Wednesday in Wednesday, or even Shiv in Succession. But Elle is just on another level. She always knows what to wear, how to wear it, and where to wear it, too. She has this naturally good style that I can only dream of accomplishing.
Me and my leggings and oversized sweatshirt could never compare. I bow down to her and her style. Give me lessons, please.
Her Naturally Sweet Nature
Arguably, this is something I took for granted as a kid, and something I’m trying to implement into my daily life more now. Elle is just an overall sweet character. While she does have her moments of selfishness, as we all do, such as her literally going to law school in order to win her boyfriend back, she’s honestly a lot sweeter than I remembered her being.
She doesn’t seek revenge for those who wronged her, only tries to prove them wrong in her own way, whether that be succeeding at school or something else. She makes friends with her once enemies, like Vivian. She even becomes close friends with Paulette, her nail lady (played by the amazing Jennifer Coolidge) and helps her in her journey to get her dog back from her ex.
Elle is a naturally sweet person, and it's a kindness that is so rarely seen nowadays that it makes me happy to watch this movie and see a warmhearted protagonist who genuinely wants good for people – she just needs to figure out how to get there first, and that’s a lesson I think all of us can learn from.
While I’m not sure when Legally Blonde 3 is going to come out, I know that I’ll be re-watching this movie for as long as I can. Elle Woods will forever be a favorite role model of mine, and I hope she ends up being a role model for other young women to come.