Zooey Deschanel: My Feminist Icon

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Zooey Deschanel has a new hit show, her own band, is co-owner of a brand-new website for women that focuses on being positive, is an actress who has starred alongside the likes of Jim Carrey (and was able to hold her own when it came to comedy), and is – undeniably – completely adorable. So why is there a bunch of Zooey backlash?

Zooey has been called a “hipster queen” – at least that’s how she’s been packaged – and a lot of folks will scoff and roll their eyes at the mention of her name. Part of this, I believe, has to do with her amazing turn as Summer in the indie flick ’500 Days Of Summer’. This is a common thing that happens to actors and actresses – they are so heavily identified to a character that people believe they are that person. People confuse Zooey with Summer and think Summer was kind of a bitch. To those people I say: you clearly did not understand ’500 Days Of Summer’, and that is all.

The film is about Tom, who falls for Summer, then becomes hurt when she ends their causal relationship. Throughout the whole film, Tom is portrayed as someone who is a hopeless romantic and he believes Summer is the one. Summer clearly states over and over again that she is not a romantic, Tom is not one, and this is just fun. But Tom is wrapped up in their time together and is hurt and blindsided when Summer moves on and marries someone else. The problem in the film is Tom. ’500 Days Of Summer’ turns the romantic comedy formula around and makes Tom the typical swoony girl and Summer the boy who will never be tamed. That’s why people have a problem: Tom is not the sweet guy you want to end up with. He is a whiny, selfish boy who doesn’t listen to what she is saying because he can’t believe he would be wrong about this girl. He feels that there’s no way she wouldn’t fall for him, but it’s meant to be according to him. It’s hard to see women in masculine roles, instead of your non-stereotypical swoony dames. So poor Zooey …

… gets the backlash for being a feminist in an indie flick.

The truth is, Zooey is an extremely talented actress and singer, she’s a brilliant business woman, is ridiculously financially responsible (unfortunately, Zooey is going through a divorce and her financial records were leaked, girl has three credit cards at a zero balance, a hefty savings, investments, donates to charity every month, and there’s not one thing she over spends on), she is also completely adorable. You know, like I said.

If you follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or frequent HelloGiggles.com (where our very own Sarah actually has a column as well) you know her tastes run to bright colors, cute animals, and anything that makes her smile. What’s wrong with that? A well-balanced, happy, colorful, responsible world where the girls look like Zooey Deschanel? Who would say “no thanks, I’ll pass”? Honestly.

Zooey is a perfect feminist icon. Even though she’s going through a divorce, not one slanderous thing has been said about her or her ex, nor has she been photographed falling down drunk, or hooking up with randoms. There are no stories of her being late to work and showing up overtired on set. Only the opposite, Zooey is known to be one of the sweetest and nicest people in Hollywood and her businesses, albums, and endorsements continue to grow.

Last week’s episode of ‘The New Girl’ illustrated my point. The New Girl is based around Jess, who’s cute, quirky, and a bit odd. She finds her boyfriend cheating on her, moves in with three guys after answering their ad on Craigslist (she thought they were girls) and deals with the fallout of her old life. We see her cry and fall apart, we see her question her sexual abilities when she gets a new boyfriend, we see her bond with the boys. Never once do we see her give up. Her best friend is a model and never does Jess look in the mirror and say “I’m not as pretty as Cece.”

But it was last weeks episode that made me fall in love with Jess and Zooey all over again. One of the roommates has a girlfriend, Julia, who is a ball-busting lawyer with anger issues. She is the very opposite of Jess, and she wears pantsuits. She’s very tough, her hair is always pulled back, and there’s an inherent severity to her personality. In this episode, she spends most of the time insulting and talking down to Jess for being so “girly.” In one scene she tells Jess, “If I acted like you act when I was at work, no one would listen to me.”

Jess looks right at Julia and delivers one of the best feminist speeches I’ve heard in a long time, she says: “I brake for birds, I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours, […] and I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. That’s just weird, and it freaks me out. And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown, and I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it, or something to make it just slightly cuter. And that doesn’t mean I’m not smart and tough and strong.”

That sums up Zooey’s persona to a tee. Yeah, she’s cute, she looks and sounds like someone plucked from the 1950′s, she likes puppies, crafts, and wearing bright colors. But she is completely in control of her life, her career, and her friends and co-workers have nothing but praise for her.

I don’t know about you, but Zooey Deschanel is my modern feminist icon and I’m damn proud to say so. Who’s yours?

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4 thoughts on “Zooey Deschanel: My Feminist Icon

  1. This also relates to my post Ms. Thatcher,if you fall within the parameters of what the liberal feminist handbook allows,cool,otherwise,need not apply. I also love her.

  2. Completely disagree. I don’t think she’s funny at all. Nor does she have a singing voice that is pleasing to the ear. She also plays the same role in all the movies she’s in. New Girl is a joke in itself. The writing is terrible and she SUCKS at acting. Because she has found success she’s the perfect feminist? I don’t think so. I like her as a person, but she is famous for no reason at all. Talentless and boring.

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