Reese Witherspoon reveals which of her film roles inspires women’s careers

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Susan Devaney
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Sixteen years since the film’s release, its female lead is still inspiring women’s university decisions.

From Madeline Mackenzie in Big Little Lies and Cheryl Strayed in Wild to June Carter Cash in Walk The Line, Reese Witherspoon has played many a fictional character on the big screen with aplomb. But it would appear there’s one female lead who keeps on inspiring our careers: the formidable Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

Woods, who first appeared back in our screens in 2001, defied the ultimate stereotype: that femininity, womanhood and the colour pink are not mutually exclusive with intelligence, ambition and determination.

Hell-bent on smashing the patriarchy, Woods graduated as a young law student from Harvard in a chic suit, and made a big point of providing support and compassion to her fellow women along the way before clutching her degree.

And Woods is still inspiring us today.

“At least once a week I have a woman come up to me and say, ‘I went to law school because of [the film],’” Witherspoon recently told the Wall Street Journal

And just like Elle Woods, Witherspoon is done with being modest.

“I know I’m good at things, and I’m over being bashful about it,” she said.

“Do basketball players have to sit there and act coy?” she continued. “Tell me something: does LeBron James twiddle his thumbs and say, ‘Jeez, I’m kind of great at shooting, and I guess I’m OK at dribbling and passing’? No, he’s like, ‘I’m amazing! I rock!’ I wish more actresses had that kind of bravado.”

Legally Blonde is available to watch on Netfix.
Legally Blonde: Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods

Only a few months ago, Witherspoon - who is married to talent agent Jim Toth - spoke to Glamour about the importance of finding a partner who’s supportive of your ambition.

“Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition,” she advises fans. “Run.”

And, for those tempted to stick with the person who holds them back because they’re worried they won’t find anyone else, Witherspoon insists that it’s better to be happy and single than unhappy and in a relationship.

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Images: MGM / Instagram