Ditch the damsels: these Hollywood heroines are the ultimate role models

By YP cadet Justine Wai

Fainting princesses are so out. Our cadets discuss why these five high-powered heroines are great role models

By YP cadet Justine Wai |

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Emma Watson as Hermione Granger is an image seared into the minds of Potter fans world wide.

Feminism means many different things to different people. At its root is the belief that both genders should have equal rights, but for many girls, feminism is also about being strong and standing up for what you believe in. Young Post picked out five strong, female, fictional characters that embody these values best.

Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen, a modern heroine.
Photo: AP

Katniss Everdeen: the Rebel Force

“I really like Katniss Everdeen because she shows that females are now strong, and not only there for the men. She makes me want to be strong too!” says YP cadet Gabi Leung.

Teens around the world know and love Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series. She is the selfless protagonist who sacrificed herself at the “75th Hunger Games”, where she volunteered as tribute for her sister.

Not only that, she also stands up for what she believes in. She joins the rebellion against the evil Capitol and risks death to fight for freedom. Unlike many lead female characters in movies, Katniss is more interested in defending her moral values than finding love.

As well being physically strong – something more associated with male characters – she always shows a mental strength and courage that helps her survive the Hunger Games. She breaks leading lady stereotypes and inspires women to value themselves for who they are.

Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) from Divergent, brave, intelligent, selfless, honest and peaceful. All in one.

Tris Prior: the Dauntless Divergent

“Tris Prior inspires me to stand up for what I believe in,” says cadet Iris Au. In the Divergent series, Tris is a strong female character, who is brave, intelligent, selfless, honest and peaceful. Her society values these traits, and she is considered a role model.

Above all, her determination to overcome challenges is impressive; as seen when she leaves Abnegation and enters Dauntless. From zero to hero, she blows audiences away with her hard work and bravery. However, she is also relatable: fans might never experience the same situations as Tris, but they can identify with her use of intellect and strength to solve problems.

Her ability to defend herself goes against the stereotype of women needing men for protection. Instead of relying on others for leadership and advice, she is able to rely on herself.

Hermione Granger: the Cool Nerd

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter is a strong and very intelligent witch. She is wary of risks but being a Gryffindor means she gives it her all when faced with challenges – especially when Harry and Ron are in danger. She balances being Hogwarts’ smartest student with defeating Voldemort – proof of her unstoppable can-do attitude!

She is kindhearted and a good friend, and doesn’t look down on those who are less smart. Most importantly, she stands up for herself. Instead of focusing on how she looks or which boys she likes, Hermoine is focused and determined, and great role model for academic women. She shows that working hard and determination is the key to success!

Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) breaking norms for a movie almost 40 years ago.

Leia Organa: the Warrior Princess

Despite the films being full of men, Star Wars has produced a feminist icon, Princess Leia Organa. Instead of fainting at the sight of danger, this princess refuses to get pushed around and takes a hands-on role in protecting her planet and fighting against the Empire.

She is physically strong and determined not to crumble when threatened or interrogated. As a leader, she has the political knowledge and intelligence to lead a rebellion. As a wise person once said, “it takes strength to show vulnerability”. She may be a tough leader and fighter, but is not afraid to show her emotions.

When she first appeared in the 1977 Star Wars movie, A New Hope, Princess Leia set the new standard for female characters by breaking norms and gender roles for women.

Instead of shying away from responsibility, Leia steps up to take charge and proving that princesses can be great leaders.

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) from Legally Blonde doesn't look feminist, but looks are in this case, deceiving.

Elle Woods, the Smart Blonde

At first, Elle Woods from Legally Blonde seems like the opposite of a feminist character – with her pink outfits and little dog. But she is highly intelligent and determined.

She goes to a top law school to pursue a career as a lawyer. This takes courage and independence – especially when her classmates refuse to take her seriously due to her girly appearance. She triumphs by ignoring what other people think and believing in herself. In the face of those who doubt her abilities, she remains hopeful and determined, and ends up coming out on top during a tricky legal case.

Elle’s feminist traits shine through, as she breaks the “dumb blonde” stereotype. She dresses in a feminine way, but is also intelligent enough to prove that this does not define her.

For feminism to work, women need to be able to support each other and work together to reach their goals. Elle builds a strong friendship with her classmate Vivian Kensington, and shows that being a feminist is not only about independence, but also being able to communication and bonding with others.