In recent years, television has given us some of the most memorable female characters who have reminded us what it is like to fight against the odds and stand up for what we want. Be it kicking butt in a physical fight or engaging in a war of wit and words, these powerful leading ladies prove that gender should not define a person’s capabilities. In celebration of International Women’s Day, here are eight strong female characters who will inspire you to empower your own life – one episode at a time.
Jessica Jones (Marvel’s Jessica Jones)
If there’s anyone who doesn’t let her mental condition hold her back from living her best life, it’s Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter). Despite suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), she possesses a no-holds-barred attitude which allows her to be proudly unapologetic of her personality as she freely voices her unfiltered opinions on everything she disagrees with, especially misogynistic individuals. Though she may also be seen as somewhat flawed, her willingness to fight for others who are victimised like she was, is exactly what makes her a strong and defiant superhero of today.
Jessica Jones’s words of wisdom: “Feel how you feel. You have nothing to forgive yourself for.”
Kimmy Schmidt (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
After living most of her life in a bunker underground as part of an apocalyptic cult, integrating back into society would have been quite a challenge for Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) if not for her constant optimism. Even though her life has been an overwhelming mix of hilarity and absurdity, she still makes the most of it as a survivor. While she accepts that she had gone through situations that were beyond her control, she doesn’t let these hurdles discourage her from following her dreams. Her tenacity is a testament to the human spirit which we should all aim to replicate in our lives.
Kimmy Schmidt’s words of wisdom: “Life beats you up. You can either curl up in a ball and die, or you can stand up and say, ‘We’re different and you can’t break us!’”
Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
There’s always been a need for strong female representation in the media, but they don’t necessarily need to come in the form of a well-versed fighter-type that saves the day. Hailed as one of television’s best characters, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) goes down in history as one of the most memorable females who manages to overshadow her imperfections with bounding energy, an unrelenting attitude and a heart of gold. Employed in a government profession where it isn’t easy to cut through red tape, her relentless optimism and unwavering belief in herself teaches women to embrace their flaws as they harness positivity to push past resistance and cynics who say otherwise.
Leslie Knope’s words of wisdom: “Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do.”
Liz Lemon (30 Rock)
As probably one of the first few inspirational feminists to appear on television, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) resonates with women who deal with everyday discrimination. As a woman in a male-dominated environment, it’s not easy for her to deal with her patriarchal boss and group of male subordinates especially when they often treat her with insensitive remarks that tend to question her abilities. Instead of letting the comments affect her, she takes it in her stride and claps back with a sarcastic rebuttal or a level-headed response; proving that a woman’s actions are not stereotypically controlled by their emotions. Apart from holding her own in the face of gender inequality, she still manages to change the perception of dating – that it’s okay to be single until the time is right, and nobody but you should have the authority to dictate your life.
Liz Lemon’s words of wisdom: “There ain’t no party like a Liz Lemon party ‘cause a Liz Lemon party is mandatory!”
Midge Maisel (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)
The 1950s was an exceptionally tough time for women especially with the glaringly apparent patriarchal system, where women were often overlooked for their capabilities because of their gender. Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) was one of those women who routinely observed her domestic duties until she decides to break free from the suffocating society she lives in as an unapologetic rebel. Instead of continually accepting whatever roles society has pre-determined for her, she finds courage and determination to work toward her dreams even when faced with humiliation and public scrutiny. The setbacks she faces also further motivates her to stay true to herself and her beliefs, as she uses her newfound stand-up comic skills to give women a voice by highlighting the double standards they face with unabashed confidence during her set.
Midge Maisel’s words of wisdom: “Why do women have to pretend to be something that they’re not?”
Olivia Pope (Scandal)
Quite possibly the most intelligent female character to ever grace the small screen, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is a fierce boss lady who fixes the problems of influential politicians in Washington D.C. Despite swimming with the sharks in murky political waters, she is never afraid of speaking her mind even if it threatens to hurt and impact those around her. From solving scandals to finding loopholes in sticky situations, Olivia uses her critical thinking skills to ensure that she delivers satisfactory results that conclude with justice getting served. Boldly confident and fearless, she is a force to be reckoned with who inspires us to know our worth, and be courageous even when the odds are stacked against us.
Olivia Pope’s words of wisdom: “I am many things. Stupid is not one of them.”
Peggy Carter (Marvel’s Agent Carter)
Originating from the Marvel universe, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is an inspirational non-superhero character who resonates with women of today. As a female living in the gender-oppressive 1950s, stubbornness and wit are her strengths – which often challenges her male peers to think before questioning her capabilities. As a progressive woman who takes charge of her own life, she is the early definition of a tough lady who rejects society’s mould of a woman. Despite being underestimated by her male colleagues, she never fails to teach them a lesson in respect by correcting their perception with her comparable capabilities, proving that domesticity is not all that defines the female gender.
Peggy Carter’s words of wisdom: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”
Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
If it wasn’t for the list of unfortunate things that happened to her, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) might have just been like any ordinary, witty high-school outcast instead of a crime-solving teenager who had mastered the art of sleuthing, thanks to her side gig at her father’s private detective agency. She often seems like she is made with nerves of steel, but her close-calls in dangerous situations never fails to show off her vulnerable side; which reminds us that it’s okay to be emotional when we need to be. In addition to her ability to distinguish her emotions, she is also extremely determined and resilient which is evident in the way she stands up for what’s right. The experiences she went through not only helped to shape her but also aided her growth in becoming a better version of herself.
Veronica Mars’ words of wisdom: “This is where I belong, in the fight. It’s who I am.”
Be bold, strong and fearless – just like these fictional heroines. Happy International Women’s Day!