How Legally Blonde battles imposter syndrome

·5-min read
Photo credit: MGM/Digital Spy
Photo credit: MGM/Digital Spy

Each year as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, Digital Spy writers share their experiences of how entertainment can be part of the conversation around mental illness.

The first time I interviewed a Hollywood star at a press junket I was filled to the brim with nerves. Sat across from two famous faces, surrounded by bright lights, cameras, and microphones, I asked myself: “What am I doing here?”

Of course, I managed to survive the interview, secured some great exclusive quotes, and even enjoyed myself. However, I couldn’t help feelings of imposter syndrome seeping in – not helped by the fact I bumped my head on a low-hanging light as I hastily left the glitzy hotel room afterwards.

Interviewing is something I love, but I couldn’t help feeling out of my depth when I was first plunged into the world of entertainment journalism.

Almost every day I met another reporter whose previous experience and career success left me awestruck. I regularly asked myself if I deserved to be working among such accomplished colleagues.

In reality, however, I wasn’t out of place at all. I worked hard for years to climb the ladder and specialise in an area of journalism I’m exceptionally passionate about. Whether I realised it or not, I had earned my spot in the fast-paced world of showbiz news.

Photo credit: MGM
Photo credit: MGM

We’ve all been there. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t struggled with a confidence wobble, whether that be in their career, social circle or love life.

In the social-media age, it’s easy to scroll through Instagram or Twitter and compare yourself to others. These feelings can quickly consume you, leading you to believe you’re not good enough or not deserving of certain achievements in life.

Thankfully escaping through films and television can often give us the boost we need and there’s one movie, in particular, that’s guided me through challenging times.

Legally Blonde is a feminist masterpiece in my eyes, but it’s also the perfect movie to watch if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome. As well as offering up heaps of comedy and girl-power fun, this film empowers its audience with important messages about insecurities.

Grabbing some popcorn and settling down for another rewatch has certainly helped me oust negative thoughts and self-doubt over the years.

Photo credit: MGM
Photo credit: MGM

Throughout her time at Harvard Law School Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) feels as though she doesn’t belong, is a fraud, and should return to her former life as a pampered sorority girl. Comparing herself to her fellow law students, Elle wrongly concludes she needs to change and be more like them.

These negative thoughts cloud her mind despite the fact she had already proved her academic ability. Elle earned her place at the prestigious university with her 4.0 GPA and by studying hard for months to successfully score 179 on the Law School Admission Test.

Thankfully the bubbly blonde soon proves to herself, and those around her, that she has every right to be there and really does have a natural talent for working in the legal system.

Imposter syndrome isn’t the only challenge she has to overcome; she also battles judgment from others and sexual harassment in the workplace, but still manages to succeed. Elle well and truly goes on a journey of discovery as she learns the importance of self-belief and inspires the women around her along the way.

As the movie draws to a close, our protagonist shares some wise words about believing in yourself in her iconic valedictorian graduation speech – valuable advice that can help us all in day-to-day life.

"It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself," Elle tells her fellow graduates.

It may sound cheesy, but whenever I get through a challenge at work or in my personal life, I fondly recall her delightfully high-pitched squeal at the end of the speech: "We did it!"

While it’s far from being the most realistic film in the world (I’m sure there aren’t many court cases that have been won by scrutinising someone’s haircare routine), Legally Blonde successfully tells a comical yet heart-warming story and empowers its viewers.

Photo credit: Jon Kopaloff - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jon Kopaloff - Getty Images

Some people may think it sounds odd to believe a noughties comedy film can help you through imposter syndrome. But, with the coronavirus pandemic having such an enormous impact on people's mental health across the globe, the value of media has been proved more than ever. Many have turned to films, TV, music, books, podcasts, and more to help them get through challenging times over the past two years.

Although I am no longer struggling with imposter syndrome, I have no doubt it is something that can linger in the background and unexpectedly flare up. Therefore, it's a comfort to know I have Legally Blonde to fall back on and remind me that just like Elle I can conquer those overwhelming feelings.

So, if you’re ever doubting yourself, expel imposter syndrome by following in the hot pink stiletto footsteps of Elle Woods.

We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 ( or Mind on 0300 123 3393 ( Readers in the US are encouraged to visit

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