Have you ever met someone and thought you had them all figured out only to discover you had it all wrong? That is how I feel about Elle Woods, the main character in the Legally Blonde movie. At first glance, she seems fun, positive, and gives great beauty advice (how to apply lip liner and don’t wash your hair after a perm). She may also come off as vapid, air-headed, and not serious. But when you dig a little deeper it becomes clear that we need more Elle Woods in the world.
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It is with passion, courage of conviction, and a strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct.
There is no hiding Elle’s passions – her passion for her dog Bruiser, the color pink, her friends, fuzzy pens, and scented resumes. She does not apologize for embracing who and what brings her joy because she would not think twice about someone else doing the same. How are you embracing joy and inviting more joy in?
“Do you think she woke up one day and decided to go to law school?” – Elle is a “get’er done” girl. Once she sets a goal (like getting into Harvard Law School and being one of five selected for Professor Callahan’s internship), she does the hard work, sacrifices, learns from her mistakes, adjusts, then goes beyond expectations. Even getting a vote of confidence from the very tough Professor Stromwell at the end of the movie. When I feel like someone might be underestimating me, I think of Elle Woods and decide to prove them wrong. How about you?
We all have biases that drive our judgment of others. Although we cannot turn them off completely (we’re not robots), we can be mindful and act accordingly. Elle battled the “dumb blonde” label. Let me tell you – I know a lot of smart blonds so I can rule out that hair color has anything to do with intellect. In the movie, Emmett and Elle discuss the blonde stereotype. His advice to her – “You know, being a blonde is actually a pretty powerful thing. You hold more cards than you think you do. And I, for one, would like to see you take that power and channel it toward the greater good, you know?” Yes! How can you take whatever you think might be holding you back and make it work for you?
Let’s face it – Elle is judged repeatedly. Sometimes even ostracized, made fun of, and humiliated. Here’s what amazes me – she does not get jaded. She does not stop being who she is. She may take a moment and then she rolls with it. I almost see the thought bubble over her head that says – you do you and I’ll do me. We can cheer each other on! Why make yourself fit in when you are born to stand out?
When Elle is upset about her ex-boyfriend, Warner, being engaged to someone else and gets a call that her sorority sister wants her to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, she does not squash someone else’s happiness or success. She stays positive and happy for her.
How do you handle judgment from others? When was the last time you uplifted someone else when you were not feeling uplifted yourself?
You must always have faith in people.
a great line in the movie is Elle telling Emmett – “you need to have a little more faith in people, you might be surprised”. She doesn’t just say the words, she demonstrates this in her actions too. Elle lives by the values of kindness and inclusiveness.
Elle believes in Paulette and builds her confidence. They become fast friends and Elle teaches her the bend and snap which has a 98% pick up success rate. This newfound self-esteem results in Paulette reuniting with her dog, Rufus, and finding love with the UPS Guy, even after breaking his nose. My favorite part of Elle and Paulette’s friendship is not only how they support each other, it’s also how they listen to each other. Sometimes that is all you need from a friend.
Elle believes in Brooke Windham’s innocence and, even when there is pressure to give up Brooke’s alibi, she gave her word and does not break that trust. She knows they will find a way to prove Brooke’s innocence. When others are judging Brooke herself and her marriage, Elle defends her and uses her fashion knowledge to prove that Enrique, the pool boy, is lying about their affair. Sisterhood!
On the surface, Elle and David Kidney look like unlikely friends but once again we need to dig deeper. Elle hears a girl rejecting David. Instead of walking on by, she slaps David in the face pretending they were together, and he never called her back which increases the girl’s interest in him. Although I hope he never went on a date with that girl, Elle and David’s friendship is further demonstrated by him helping pull books from the library’s top shelf to his support in court when he gives proof that Elle, a law student, can argue Brooke’s case. They have each other’s backs.
How do you show faith in others?
And Most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.
Elle knows that you need to care for yourself as much as you take care of others. She is not too proud to tap into the power of self-care. Elle gets manicures and eats chocolate. She exercises because “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” What does self-care look like to you?
Elle spends much of the movie trying to win back a guy who never really accepted her for who she is. If you have to change for anyone, they are the wrong person for you. Be with someone who believes in you. If Elle had won Warner back, she would have missed out on the dreamy and super supportive Emmett. Who do you have around you that believes in you?
Don’t get me wrong, Elle is not perfect and struggles like the rest of us. The line in the movie that I always feel in the pit of my stomach is when she has a realization about her ex-boyfriend, Warner, and pointedly states, “I am never going to be good enough for you, am I?” As if she already knows the answer and has to say it out loud for herself. Her reaction turns to “I’ll show you how valuable Elle Woods can be”. She knows her worth and will no longer let someone else make her feel less than that. Do you know your worth?
I have watched this movie many times. Afterward, I am reinvigorated to take new steps in the world by choosing to believe there is good in people and choosing to believe in myself. When life gets hard, find inspiration from Elle Woods but be you.
Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and development. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results.
Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and facilitation. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results. Their mission is to help you be the best you can be.