31 Lessons From Some of Our Favorite Single Women in Movies
Yes, there are some great movie couples out there, but what about the other female characters who aren't in pursuit of a love interest? The ones who aren't perpetuating unrealistic romantic expectations, but instead are paving the way for single ladies everywhere to be happy, adventurous, and honest? We raise a glass to these fearless female characters and share with you the lessons learned from both their triumphs and mistakes.
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano
Jo March, Little Women
"Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they've got ambition, and they've got talent, as well as just beauty. I'm so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for."
Is there a more inspiring single woman in a fictional story than Jo March? We'll wait. Saoirse Ronan's take on this headstrong, take-no-bullsh*t aspiring writer in Greta Gerwig's 2019 adaption is beautifully powerful.
Creating a sustainable source of income for her and her family, Destiny is smart, thoughtful, and there for those around her. She never looks for someone to provide for her, and she finds ways to do so herself (illegal or not). Destiny works hard and takes her time being single to make a life for herself.
Amy and Molly, Booksmart
Who has time for a boyfriend when you're working on getting into the top schools in the nation? Amy and Molly prioritize their education and friendship over relationships, and it pays off. They aren't looking for their high school sweethearts because they already have each other. They were able to learn about themselves in high school, so they could be prepared to grow in college.
Thelma and Louise, Thelma & Louise
Fabulous, fierce, and in no need of men, Thelma and Louise are the dynamic duo that all single girls should look up to. They are strong, independent women whose lives are not focused on finding a partner to complete them.
Charlotte Field, Long Shot
A woman in power, Charlotte Field has too many things on her plate to worry about a relationship. She got to the top due to her work ethic and brains, and finding a boyfriend is far down on her to-do list. Due to the amount she works and the travel that comes with it, Charlotte is used to being alone. Although love eventually finds her, she doesn't need it to complete her.
Who said a queen needed a king? Queen Elsa doesn't need anyone to help her run her kingdom (besides Anna, that is) because she is smart, brave, and powerful enough on her own. Her independence sets her apart, as does her strong will.
Bridget Jones, Bridget Jones's Diary
Messy, disorderly, and sometimes completely inappropriate, Bridget Jones starts off as a sad single woman. As she begins writing in her diary, she learns that she can help herself more than any man can (contrary to what her mother believes), and even though she does find love, it's because she is able to love herself first.
Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries
Mia Thermopolis finds out she's the princess of a kingdom, and worries more about how to fit into the big shoes she has to fill one day than what prince is going to rule by her side. She takes advantage of her time being single by learning more about Genovia, rekindling her friendship with Lilly, and showing her grandmother what it's like to be a teenager in the city.
Savannah, Robin, Bernadine, and Gloria, Waiting to Exhale
Waiting to Exhale is a testament to the idea that some of your greatest loves can be your friends. From losing love to finding it all over again, Savannah, Robin, Bernadine, and Gloria are there for each other every step of the way. Being single helps them realize their appreciation for each other, as well as their independence.
Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
Stylish, smart, and recently dumped, Elle Woods's plan to win her ex-boyfriend back turns into a journey of self-discovery and knowledge, complete with some of the best outfits known to the big screen. She quickly discovers that she doesn't need a man, proving that she is in fact much smarter than the stereotypical label put on her.
Elise, Brenda, and Annie, The First Wives Club
Newly divorced and newly reunited, college friends Elise, Brenda, and Annie seek to take revenge on their ex-husbands. In doing so, they realize how strong they are without them, and how important the power of friendship is. As they live their lives alone, they are able to grow into the women their husbands barred them from becoming.
Alice, How to Be Single
As the name implies, How to Be Single is a movie about just that. When Alice decides to take a break from her longtime boyfriend, she ends up getting dumped and having to learn how to live the single life. With a little help from her new friend, Alice finds out that being on her own is more empowering than she previously thought.
Erica Benton, An Unmarried Woman
Erica Benton's previous life of stability and comfort is ripped out from under her. Before long, she takes a look at how she got to where she is, and in doing so embraces her newfound freedom. She learns to take risks, make positive changes, and live the life she was made for.
Although her life might seem a little messy, Annie is an independent woman who is just doing her best. When her bakery is forced to close and she is left with little to nothing, she doesn't look for a man to rescue her. Instead, she moves in with her mom to get back on her feet, discovers the beauty of new friendships, and ruins her best friend's bachelorette party on her road to happiness.
Liz Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
After a brutal divorce, Liz Gilbert questions everything about her life as she knew it. Her journey to Italy, India, and Bali helps her discover things she never knew about herself, and she starts living a life that is free of those who brought her down. Complete with pizza, wine, and gelato, Liz finds out that being single is sweeter than it sounds.
Cady Heron, Mean Girls
Cady Heron might be a mean girl for most of the movie, but she is able to get back to her roots, grow from her mistakes, and stop trying to get with her ex-best friend's ex-boyfriend. She learns that calling somebody else fat won't make her any skinnier, calling someone stupid doesn't make her any smarter, and chasing Aaron Samuels is not worth her time. She instead chooses to hang out with her friends and bond with her family.
Frances Halladay, Frances Ha
Even with her life in shambles, Frances Halladay knows how to make the most of it. A single girl living in the city (sometimes sans an apartment), she relies on herself and no one else. She has big dreams and knows that she doesn't need a relationship to make her happy.
Carly, Kate, and Amber, The Other Woman
These three recently single women won't let a pesky breakup (or divorce) ruin their lives. Instead, they decide to make the most of their situations and turn things around. Carly, Kate, and Amber team up and prove that empowered women empower other women.
Donna Stern, Obvious Child
When unemployed comic Donna Stern accidentally gets pregnant, she takes matters into her own hands and decides what is best for herself and her life. Without a job or a husband, Donna is proof that sometimes being alone is the best way to figure yourself out.
Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun
After divorcing her cheating husband, Frances Mayes finds herself with depression and writer's block. In an attempt to start over, she takes a vacation to Tuscany, Italy, where she finds more than herself. Her inspiring and brave journey proves that being alone isn't so bad, and that once you love yourself you can accept the love of others back.
Katherine, Mona Lisa Smile
Katherine Watson makes us believe in the power of education, the importance of being alone, and the fact that one's life can still be fulfilling without getting married. She pushes her students to pursue their own dreams and teaches them to think for themselves and to question the status quo — all of which women should be doing every day.
Samantha Jones, Sex and the City 2
Samantha is genuinely upbeat with her life and happy for her trio of besties as they go through marriage and children while she remains single. Even as the oldest of the bunch, there is no hidden jealousy or resentment about their happiness, no crying and ice cream eating because she's alone. Instead, she's living the single life to the fullest and loving the sexy perks . . . and quite enthusiastically!
Julianne Potter, My Best Friend's Wedding
Not many modern romantic comedies end with the couple you're rooting for not getting together. But Julianne Potter really shows how sometimes truly loving someone means letting them go (but not without some cringeworthy pitfalls along the way).
Romy and Michele, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
We learned from Romy's reunion mishap not to dwell on past crushes; the memory seems to get better in time, while the person may not. Case in point: Billy Christensen. Also, we love how in the end, Romy and Michele discovered happiness and fulfillment in their close bond and a new business together — not a double wedding!
Natalie Keener, Up in the Air
Natalie proves there is life after a text message breakup. Even after following the boyfriend to Omaha, NE, just to be dumped by him, she isn't afraid to change careers to something she enjoys more and in a city she wants to be in, on her own.
While Poppy does eventually meet someone in Happy-Go-Lucky, her sweet, spunky, and uberpositive attitude is there from the beginning — the cause, not the effect, of the relationship. Her outlook on life, even in tough situations with difficult and irritable people, is something to aspire to, single or otherwise.
Jane Austen, Becoming Jane
Although the love story between Jane Austen and Thomas Lefroy is more fiction than history as portrayed in Becoming Jane, the film's heroine makes the wise decision not to run away with the man she loves, for his family and their relationship's sake. And even without a husband, she continues to pursue her passion for writing and becomes one of the most famous and loved writers to date. And that part is not fiction.
Holly, P.S. I Love You
Although Holly didn't have a choice in the matter of being single after her husband tragically dies of a brain tumor, she does have a choice in deciding how to move on. With the help of her family and friends, and of course the letters her husband left her, she begins doing what she loves, supporting her friends in their happiness, and opening herself up to what life has in store for her.
Alice, Alice in Wonderland
Alice chooses an unpredictable, dangerous new job over a safe marriage to a (wealthy) man she doesn't love at the end of this psychedelic sequel to the classic fairy tale. Go Alice!
Rose Lorkowski, Sunshine Cleaning
As a single mom barely making it as a maid while having an affair with her high school ex, Rose isn't doing so hot at the beginning of this indie flick. But she courageously dumps the fella and starts a new career for herself, all with selfless motivation and a lot of love for her imperfect family.
Patti, Under the Tuscan Sun
While Frances Mayes is the leading lady learning to be single in this flick based on a memoir, we were really struck with her best friend Patti's predicament. Apart from a cheating partner, it doesn't get much worse than being left alone while pregnant. But she manages to turn things around, following Frances to Italy to have the baby and start a new life as a single mom.