Childhood heroes: Fictional female characters who have inspired us

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Throughout my childhood, there have been a plethora of fictional female figures who have inspired me in unique ways. In their resilience, imperfections and journeys, I and many other girls have come to see a little bit of ourselves in the following characters. In celebration of International Women’s Day, here are how a few fictional female characters have each left their mark on us.

Sandy Cheeks

I never really knew as a child that Sandy is a scientist, but it was always fun to see her working on crazy projects in her dome. She possesses a sense of authority of herself and her Texan background, which really inspired me to be proud of my individual identity. Sandy is a great example of breaking the status quo in pursuit of innovation. She also has many talents, including, but not limited to, karate, playing guitar, surfing and wrestling clams. She’s truly an icon above and under the sea. 


Mulan is inspirational for her strong sense of moral direction. She was willing to challenge obstacles in order to protect what was most important to her. She is a great example of not letting circumstances define your trajectory for success. When she learned about the Huns, she didn’t hesitate to do what was right to protect her father and family honor. Mulan has taught me that we ought not to let expectations limit our growth and ability. Mulan goes to show that with a little encouragement and a lucky cricket, anything you set your mind to is possible.

Elizabeth Swann

I remember watching “Pirates of the Caribbean” when it first came out and being blown away by Elizabeth Swann’s vigor and fearlessness. Her poufy dresses were a guise to her rebelliousness and sense of adventure. Elizabeth was able to find her calling, despite being surrounded by people who tried to stop her because of their own expectations for her. I appreciated how Elizabeth was a direct antithesis to the “perfect woman” that was championed in her time. She valued her independence and ability to make her own choices. 


As I get older, I start to understand Lilo more. Instead of letting the world turn her cold through experiences with bullying, Lilo continued to maintain an open heart and accept Stitch. Lilo was able to teach her older sister to be more empathetic by helping her realize that “family” can transcend blood relation. Just as Lilo accepts her sister despite her sister’s mistakes, Lilo got Nani to accept Stitch.

Mia Thermopolis 

I didn’t get some of the jokes when “The Princess Diaries” first came out, but with my teenage years well past me, I finally understand the angst of sitting in a car being drenched in rain. I always envisioned a “glow-up” similar to what Mia had, but alas, we can’t all be princesses with makeover teams. The main takeaway I got from the movie, however, was that even though Mia came to alter her physical appearance drastically, she still had the same personality and quirks that couldn’t be “fixed” (and they didn’t need to be). 

These are a few of the many fictional female figures who have impacted my perspective as a woman, but there is still an even longer list. Though there are many female figures who have been able to inspire through their actions in real life, it is comforting to know that there were fictional characters available to encourage us to discover an inner strength that we could then bring to reality.

Contact Malvika Singhal at [email protected] .