Reese Witherspoon had to 'prove' she was sexy enough to play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde has a subversively empowering message for women. On the surface, it looks like a movie about a vapid blonde, but it secretly tells women that they can do anything, even if they like pink. However, one of the stories behind the movie isn't as empowering. In fact, it's downright sexist and holds up the cliché that even an actress playing as nun has to come off as bangable in some way.


Reese Witherspoon opened up to the Hollywood Reporter about her audition process for Legally Blonde. She had just come off of Election where she played overachiever Tracy Flick, and Witherspoon said casting directors thought she "was a shrew." She risked being typecast as horror of all horrors – an unsexy Type-A overachiever. "My manager finally called and said: 'You've got to go meet with the studio head because he will not approve you. He thinks you really are your character from Election and that you're repellent,'" Witherspoon told the Hollywood Reporter. "And then I was told to dress 'sexy.' "

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Witherspoon went with it, not questioning it at the time. "And you're 23, you have a baby at home, you need the money and you're being told that by people who know what they're doing," she said.

Witherspoon also revealed that the audition itself was also kind of weird. "I remember a room full of men who were asking me questions about being a coed and being in a sorority, even though I had dropped out of college four years earlier and I have never been inside a sorority house," she said. Witherspoon had dropped out of Stanford.

Thankfully, times have changed and Witherspoon says her reaction would be different nowadays. "It's funny to think of all the things we were told to do back then," she continued. "Now you're thinking, 'Oh God, if somebody told my daughter to do that, she'd be like, I really hope you're joking.'"

Witherspoon's experiences were part of a broader theme in her Hollywood Reporter interview. Even though Witherspoon has the skills, knowledge, and moxie to back up her ambition, she found herself continuously underestimated, indicative of the challenges many women face.

"I was in this position where I was making studios a lot of money, and I had for years and years, and they didn't take me seriously as a filmmaker. Somehow, they didn't think that 25 years of experience could add up to some inherent knowledge of what movies work and how to keep them on budget," Witherspoon said of her forays into producing "And you think about the kind of guys who come out of Sundance and get gigantic jobs off of one, like, 'Oh, I see the potential.' "

RELATED: A neuroscientist had a paper mansplained to her. Plot twist, she wrote it.

Women are continuously being made to prove themselves, which can make achievement feel like an uphill battle. However, there's an advantage. When you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself, you end up getting twice as good.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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When the "Me Too" movement exploded a few years ago, the ubiquitousness of women's sexual harassment and assault experiences became painfully clear. What hasn't always been as clear is role that less overt, more subtle creepiness plays in making women feel uncomfortable or unsafe as they move through the world, often starting from a young age.

Thankfully—and unfortunately—a viral video from a teen TikToker illustrates exactly what that looks like in real-time when a man came and sat down with her while she was doing a live video. He asked if the chair at her table was taken, and she said no, thinking he wanted to take it to another table. Instead, he sat down and started talking to her. You can see in her face and in her responses that she's weirded out, though she's trying not to appear rude or paranoid.

The teen said in a separate TikTok video that the man appeared to be in his 30s. Definitely too old to be pulling up a chair with someone so young who is sitting by herself, and definitely old enough to recognize that she was uncomfortable with the situation.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less