I know what you're going to say - "Jess, it was 30 years ago." "Jess, you need to move on." "Jess, nothing became of these women and you should let it go." I know, I know... but 'Steel Magnolias' is one of the greatest movies of all time! And yes, I realise that in the intervening years, no one has heard of Dolly Parton, Sally Field or Shirley MacLaine; I can hear you thinking, "Who the hell is Julia Roberts?" But I love them all and I have loved, laughed and cried along with them for the past three decades.
Now, confession time, I tend to do this a lot in these articles - I am a feminist, but I'm also in my mid 30s, and over the years I have listened to countless female Hollywood idols get up on stage to receive awards and accolades and talk about the lack of "great female roles" or "roles for women over 40" or the struggle to get female-led films made and or marketed - and I have to be honest, I have no freakin' idea what they've been talking about. While I never doubted that their plight was real, I just simply couldn't comprehend it. So many of the films that I've loved, worshipped and quote ad nauseam to this day are so deliciously women-centric that I feel I couldn't possibly have been living in the same world as these actors. I must have just naturally gravitated towards them, or I have exceptional taste in movies. Ah, who am I kidding, it's both!
So for anyone out there raising a future woman in whatever shape or form who finds themselves wondering what to show them after you've ticked off childhood the standards ('Grease', 'The Sound of Music', 'Mary Poppins', 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Home Alone'), here's a little list of films (made before 2002 when I turned 18) and the glorious women who taught me how to be me.
A tale of female friendship in adolescence, how it and their shared experiences shaped them as people, and then how those friendships grow and change once you reach adulthood, all defined by a single summer in the 60s when shorts were short, boots were tall (and made for walking) and our four best gal friends were starting to become women. Boys, divorce, bra stuffing, the birds and the bees and one mysterious dead little boy all play their parts as Roberta, Teeny, Samantha and Chrissy embark on a summer they'll never forget. There's also a treehouse. Just sayin'.
The year 2000 was an absolute killer for girl power. Three films from that year appear on this list. I was 15 at the time, and my head was exploding with female empowerment.