Pinker Perspective

Inspired by Elle Woods

Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers from the movie “Legally Blonde” (2001).


y entire junior year has personally been, to say the least, challenging. Going into junior year, I felt more unconfident in myself than I ever had in my life. I often doubted myself as a person because of the judgement I received from my peers. Along with the SAT and AP classes, I felt pulled in different directions at once. I didn’t accomplish as much as I planned.  

For a long time throughout the year, I was stuck on what I actually loved to do and felt like I was hardly achieving anything worthwhile. I felt more stressed and unhappy with myself. I felt like no one cared about me and that the work I put into all my classes and extracurriculars were meaningless. I felt invisible.

The lack of self-confidence generated by self doubt made me afraid to truly be myself at school.

— Betty Nguyen

It wasn’t until after the junior trip—an event that only happened to heighten my self doubts—in February that my grey perspective on life started becoming brighter. Because it was February break, I was able to stay home and watch “Legally Blonde” for the first time in years.

Portrayed by Reese Witherspoon, Elle Woods, a blonde sorority girl with a love for pink, decides to follow her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School to win him back before realizing that she does not need him and proves to everyone at Harvard Law that she is not a stereotypical “dumb blonde.” She wins her first trial as a student intern and learns how powerful believing in herself can be. Throughout the movie, Elle’s ditziness and perseverance made me laugh and smile a lot. Beyond our shared love for fashion and pink, I began to realize that I had more in common with Elle on a personal level.

Like myself, she doubted herself because mostly everybody in her life refused to look beyond her pink surface and take her seriously. Only she could see that she was more than just the stereotypical “dumb blonde,” and she took power in proving not only others wrong, but also herself. And while she set out to prove people wrong, she remained true to herself. She never stopped being bubbly, kind, fashionable and pink, despite being surrounded by the drab Harvard “serious” stereotypes who looked down on her. I found it very brave of Elle to keep her head high and be kind to those classmates. She also was not afraid to say whatever she wanted to say, no matter how dumb she might have sounded. From my own experience of being afraid to speak up because I think people are judging me, it takes a lot of courage to do that. Elle learned to not let her peers’ judgments of her define who she was.

Elle dreamed of getting engaged to her ignorant ex-boyfriend Warner at the beginning of the movie. Even though she did apply to Harvard to win him back, her whole life changed in a way she never expected it to. From working hard to excel in Harvard Law to proving people wrong, Elle learned that she loved law. Throughout the movie, Elle chose to conquer her unknown future at Harvard Law with a brave smile. She learned the hard way that she could not always control the future or have the life she wanted, but whatever happened ended up being better than what she had expected.

I learned from watching Elle devote herself to learning law that progress, no matter how frustratingly slow it can be, takes time. It took me until the end of this year to realize that even though I did not accomplish all the grand things I wanted, I still achieved a lot academically, socially and mentally. Inspired by her unwavering optimism, I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone more this year and to keep my head held high.  The millions of small things and the occasional big things that I accomplish continue to build my self-confidence and strengthen my drive to not be afraid to show people who I really am. Realizing how far I’ve come this year, I am now truly able to say that I am happy and proud of myself. Who would have thought that the fictional and fashionable Elle Woods would inspire me to have more faith in myself?

The millions of small things and the occasional big things that I accomplish continue to build my self-confidence and strengthen my drive to not be afraid to show people who I really am.

— Betty Nguyen

Now, whenever life tries to get me down, I always turn to “Legally Blonde” to brighten my day. Every time the personally-symbolic song “Perfect Day” plays in the end credits, I feel like I can do anything—like anything is possible. I know that sounds cheesy, but to me, “Legally Blonde” holds a certain magic that gives me a warm, motivational feeling every time I watch it—a feeling that I’ve kept with me ever since I first watched “Legally Blonde” again.

Looking back at junior year, I would not change a thing. With all the bad memories and situations I had, I was able to make great memories that outweighed the bad. Those great memories came from learning to believe in myself more. And while Elle Woods showed me how powerful believing in myself can be, I think the most important lesson I learned from her was that in order to believe in myself, I needed to pinken my perspective first, no matter how grey life can be.  

After all, a wise blonde once said on her first day at Harvard Law, “What, like it’s hard?”