Growing up, I didn’t really think of myself as smart. I had a hard time focusing in class, my little sister always came home with better grades than me, and math seemed like something only the devil himself could enjoy. Though I dreamed of being a vet or marine biologist, I decided early on that there was no way I’d ever make the grades.
But then, I saw Legally Blonde.
I know Elle and Bruiser Woods were created as lighthearted comedy, but my 11-year-old self took them very seriously. I’d never really imagined that I could be fun and love pink and also be smart and follow my dreams before. I became determined to be like Elle, to go to whatever university I wanted and become whoever I would like to be, unhindered by my bubbly personality, love of pedicures, and excitable nature.
By mid high-school, I had really turned my grades around, but just like Elle, my peers still didn’t take me seriously. When I told a classmate I was applying to one of the top universities in Canada, he literally said, “You’re not smart enough to go there” to my face, completely based on how I looked and my personality vs. my actual grades. But with every cruel comment or look of surprise, I only became more determined.
Last June I graduated from Ryerson University’s Journalism school, a program that’s difficult to get into and even harder to stick with. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was channeling Elle when I walked across the stage to get my degree in high heels and a sparkly dress. I was the first on both sides of my family to ever receive a university education, and though I didn’t have the best time in school earning my actual degree (so much repetition!) I feel pretty proud to have it tucked away in my office.
Elle provided me with the perfect set of beauty rules (and life lessons) to carry in my backpack through my college years, and some still help me make the grade today. Here are my favorites:
1. Think pink. You don’t even have to see Legally Blonde to know that Elle is all about the pink. I used to be afraid to admit my favorite color was pink, opting for a more “serious” color choice depending on the situation, but my cheerful rose accessories and neon pink nail polishes totally got me through tough study sessions, and they still get me through long work days now. As Elle would say, “Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”
2. Never compromise who you are. I was by-far the most colorful girly-girl in my class of 150, and though I got all sorts of weird looks and comments, I tried really hard not to let it taint my happiness. By graduation day I had a small group of friends who loved me for me, regardless of the fact that I refused to buy “J-school” sweats and always wore makeup to class. (Yes, even to exams!)
3. It’s all in the details. When you’re in a class of hundreds or thousands, the details can really make a big difference, and the same goes for applying for jobs later. Taking the extra time to scent your resume before handing it off, write a little thank-you note to your TA on the final exam, or add a swipe of your favorite lipstick before an interview can make all the difference, both in how you’re perceived and your confidence in yourself.
4. Blondes really do have more fun. I’ve been a dye-hard (see what I did there?) blonde for most of my life, and I don’t see myself changing that anytime soon. True, being blonde comes with all sorts of assumptions and stereotypes, but it also means I can add some pastel or play around with new shades anytime I like, and I really do believe that being blonde comes with a special sort of magical power.
My number one blonde-in-college tip? Make friends with someone who knows how to touch up your roots at home, and pay them in snacks/study notes instead of blowing your monthly food budget at a local salon.
5. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Elle has this great way of adapting and walking into any scenario without letting haters bring her down. She knows who she is, and even a courtroom full of judgmental eyes won’t get her to change her look. I like to channel that same spirit, imagining myself as a sparkle of confetti in an otherwise drab situation. Sure, I get hate all the time for being too silly and excited, too dressed up, or too unprofessional (thanks a lot, hair), but at the end of the day I love my life and who I am, and no amount of red tape or snobbishness is going to take my glitter eyeliner and pastel hair!
Over to you: Who was your college style icon? Are you as big of an Elle Woods fan as I am?