Stereotypical female characters in cinema
April 26, 2022
FFF team decided to analyze our favorite female characters and make a list of the most common.
We all have our favorite movies, but have you ever thought how stereotypical and similar film characters are? Have you felt something like "I might have seen it earlier"? More often this problem applies to female characters. Actually, it is not a coincidence.

Cinematographic women most frequently are just an addition to male characters. They can play the role of muses, beauties, who inspire. In fact, even if in the titles they are called main characters, we know nothing about them. Women in films are often just images who highlight male protagonists. Hopefully, in the last decades the range of characters played by actresses is increasing and becoming more realistic and various. New heroines are brave and unusual and have multifaceted nature. But there are still many patterns of their behavior.

FFF team decided to analyze our favorite female characters and make a list of the most common.

Some of the female stereotypic characters might seem original and unique, so tropes do not always mean something negative. Moreover, we are sure you love many of them. So, if you find your favorite characters as the examples of our compilation, don't be angry
Dumb blonde

We'd like to start with the most stereotypic and sexist female image ever – "Dumb blond". Everybody knows it and has seen many times. More often you can meet this type of characters in comedies, but to be honest, cinema of 2010s is full of examples of "dumb blondies".

They can be cute and harmless as Elle Woods from "Legally Blonde" (2001), or, on the contrary, nasty and furious. Although such classification, Dumb blondies as a trope in cinema are pretty much the same.
Of course, they are light-haired, wear pink Barbie outfits as miniskirts and tube tops. Blondies are illustrated as stupid superficial girls, who care only about boyfriends and dates and look too feminine. Most frequently they are very sexualized. Such characters of the iconic movies formed the basis for many jokes and stereotypes which made girls feel embarrassed due to hair color.

Many actresses whose main roles became "Dumb blondes" characters are perceived as one-trick by directors and barely could change their lines. A perfect example of this is Marilyn Monroe, whose the most well-known image on the screen became exactly a coquettish blonde.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl

You will be shocked how many of the most iconic female characters turned out to be manic pixie dream girls. We can bet you had been dreaming of becoming one of them during your childhood and teenage years. Or maybe you even had your hair dyed in order to look like Clementine Kruczynski from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004).
In films, such girls are Illustrated as extraordinary and mysterious. They can be the ones who are different and ignore everyone and listen to the music no one knows what. The main character (it is important that in 90 % of situations this is a guy) who is hopelessly obsessed with a "Manic pixie dream girl'', is afraid to talk to her and prove himself as she is "too cool" for him. So, the whole movie is about how he becomes confident and finally gets the girl. As it was in "Paper Towns" (2015), where Quentin was looking for Margo for the whole movie.
Although such trope looks fresh, independent and makes thousands of girls of different ages dream about becoming one of them, this image is not as flawless as it may seem. It is a gut example of how general female characters can be strapped to a man one and be absolutely ephemeral singly. Actually, their whole image is built on the main character's affection. It only looks like we know "Manic pixie dream girl" well. In reality, there is no information about them, their personality and problems. Directors give them qualities of a girl every guy dreams of, but till the end of the film they stay just an addition and do not open themselves as characters. Thus, Ramona Flowers from "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (2010) is a typical "MPDG".
Weird girl

This is that girl who looks strange to society and does not care about what others think about her. She shares unpopular ideas which may sound literally weird. Actually, the list of the varieties of manifestation of such images is very long. But almost always "Weird girl" has an unusual appearance and alternative interests. She prefers to go her own way. That's why in many cases she does not get on well with the society and as a result has few friends. Sometimes her weirdness is a consequence of family problems, but it is not necessary.

Wednesday Addams from "The Addams family" (1999) is a "Weird girl". She is into crime and too mature for her age, which really annoys the society.
Weird girls often have no relationships and are bullied because of it. Somehow the society tries to expose such characters as unhappy ones only because of their oddity. So, directors choose to "redesign" them by making "normal". As it happened to Dasha Vasnetsova from "Papiny dochki", whose gothic image was completely destroyed by the image of a happy mother.
Fortunately, in the last few years directors started to depart from this formulaic plotline. Yes, a weird girl may be uncomfortable and confuses people around her because she is different and has her own opinion. But she does not have to become "normal" to be happy with herself.

Luna Lovegood from "Harry Potter" franchise may look strange to some people, but isn't that the reason we love her so much?
Damsel in distress

Let's look at one of the most classical and stereotypical female images that appeared even before the cinema was invented. Archetype of "Damsel in distress" tends to romanticize femininity and vulnerability and shows how masculine the main character is, as we can see on the example of Mary Jane from Spider-Man by Sam Raimi.
The history of that image begins in Greek Mythology, where Andromeda couldn't solve her own problems and waited for Perseus to help her. Actually, the main idea now is the same: girl is puzzled and does not know what to do.

Such character often is young and naive. She is in danger and needs to be saved by the male protagonist, who is in love with her and ready for everything to rescue her. That's why "Damsel in distress" is very common for classical cartoons based on fairy tales as "Sleeping Beauty" (1959) and movies with heroic vibes (for instance, first parts of Bond's franchise).
Pick me up girl

Speaking about "Pick me girl", it is essential to keep in mind that they are represented in two different ways:

• Тhe one who literally does everything to be "picked". In movies of 2010s this type of image is often manifested in secondary characters who lose to the main character at the end of the film. Such girl is smart, cute, an honor student and tries to act just perfect.

• And a more common type: the girl who is one of the lads. She likes cars and skating. In her spare time, she plays the guitar. All the feminine stuff such as make-up, dress-ups and pink color are foreign for her, because she is "not like the other girls". Boys choose chilling with girls like that because they are real "bro" and don't care about diets and broken nails.

But the problem is that even this image that seems to be perfect in men's minds is criticized by patriarchy. Male society really believes in the idea women do everything to get their approval. So, females cannot just like technology and rock music, which absolutely discredits women as fully functional persons.

But if we are talking about "pick me girl" as a stereotypical character, then nice examples of such are:

Kat Stratford from "10 Things I Hate About You" (1999)
Ginny Miller from "Ginny & Georgia" (2021)
Mean Girl

So, we are in front of our last trope today, which is "Mean Girl".

Yes, this is that girl you might have seen in the teen movies of the 00s, who rules the whole school with the gang near her. But let's figure out what her starter pack is.

She is always confident, ambitious, glamorous and looks perfect. Just like Chanel Oberlin from "Scream Queens" (2015).

Such girl tries to prove the statement that "Power corrupts". This is the reason why she chooses to be on top and to bully those who are weaker than her. "Mean girl" might be a good manipulator and takes advantage of it. For example, there usually is a nerd who does homework for her.

Quite often "MG" is just a spoiled child who has many problems with aggression and believes in her exceptionalism, or vice versa, such character has some troubles in family or challenges in assuming herself. So, she tries to find what is missing through her behavior towards classmates and teachers.

Regina George is the most classical illustration of the "Mean girl".
Feminism in cinema is becoming more and more significant. Female characters now are less stereotyped than it was even a decade ago. We see different tropes and stories, which help us choose those characters who inspire us the most and break the frames of "classical female roles".

We hope you learned a lot of new information in today's article. Thank you for your attention!
Author: Arina Bokach