Before having a daughter I envisioned what she would be like. I assumed she would be anti-princess, and have zero interest in all things glittery. However? Not what happened. Not at all, actually. If you ask my daughter what her favorite color is, she will tell you “pink and purple.” Also, to my dismay, she wants to be princess Jasmine, or maybe even (gasp!) Ariel for Halloween. Don’t get me wrong — my daughter is awesome. She is articulate and funny, creative, assertive and brave … and completely girly. When she was a baby I truly believed that she would escape the societal mold of a pink, frilly girlhood, but alas, she hasn’t. She is fully entrenched in it. It’s something I actually find myself struggling with. To balance out her love of all things princess, I try to weave in other role models. I have tried my best to open up a whole new world to her filled with terrific characters that will empower her. Without further ado here are my top ten girl-power movies.
1. Penelope (2006)
I adore this film. It starts out like your typical fairy-tale — girl is cursed, girl must find prince to reverse curse and rescue her. Only instead of being rescued by a prince, Penelope saves herself. Penelope learns to love who she is, pig nose and all, and decides she doesn’t care what other people think. She takes charge of her life showing girls the importance of believing in one self.
2. Whale Rider (2002)
Whale Rider is the embodiment of what a children’s movie should be. It embraces s the idea that a female can be a strong leader. Paikea, the main character in this film, in my opinion, may be the greatest example of young female strength depicted on the big screen. This movie is for older kids, middle school and up. And if you haven’t seen it yourself? You’re missing out.
3. Girls Rock! (2007)
This movie is a must see. It is a documentary that follows the lives of four budding female musicians as they make their way through a summer rock camp. It is funny and touching and heartbreaking all at once. I love the real-feel of it. It’s an accurate portrayal of the lives of girls and what it feels like to be an outcast, but gain acceptance within yourself.
4. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Dorothy is a bad ass. Time and time again throughout the course of this film she stands up for herself and forces those around her to do the same. This movie speaks volumes for itself.
5. National Velvet (1944)
This film, starring a young Elizabeth Taylor, features a girl who has heart set on competing in the male only Grand National horse race. Velvet, Taylor’s character, goes on to win the horse race. It’s film about courage and strength, and the ability of a girl to succeed in a male dominated sport.
6. Mulan (1998)
One of the few Disney movies with a powerful female lead. While it has its flaws, it still sends a message to young girls that there is much, much more to being just a pretty face.
7. Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
A super-hero, intelligent, self confident, spelling-goddess — what’s not to love? My favorite quote among many from this film is when Akeelah quotes Marianne Williamson in saying:
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate; our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
This is probably my favorite movie adaption of a novel. The content is heavy and suited for somewhat older children but it’s a must see. It opens the door for discussions on race relations, gender stereotypes, morals, and relationships. I adore Scout Finch. Enough said.
9. The Labyrinth (1986)
Jennifer Connolly does an awesome job of playing the role of a teen-aged protagonist. The most powerful line in the movie comes when she proclaims to the goblin king:
“You have no power over me!”
10. The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)
This is an oft-overlooked film that most people have never even heard of. It’s a magical story that is both quaint and heartwarming, told from the perspective of main character, Fiona. Through the course of the film, Fiona, the film’s hero, is able to bring her family and community back together.
Honorable mention: Alice in Wonderland, The Little Princess, Annie, Paper Moon (for the older set) , The Secret Garden, PollyAnna, Matilda, and Inkheart.
What movies have you guys seen that really scream ‘girl power?’ (Aside from that Spice Girls movie. Because that so does not even count.)