Fashionable Feminist Icon: Ellen Page

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Quick note: I am writing this post as part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network. I'll be writing a few more posts in the coming weeks that bring feminism and fashion into conversation with each other, so be watching for those. And for more information on the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network, click here.

When asked to choose a fashionable feminist icon of my very own, I felt a strange personal pressure to look for her (or him, I guess) in previous generations. Perhaps the suffragists of the late-19th and early-20th centuries would hold a suitable choice; they had those wonderful hats, after all.

Or perhaps I should look in the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, during the 1970s. Feminists galore! In wide-legged pants, with blazers and pins!

In all honesty, though, picking women from these days would have been false. I admire them fiercely, but are they my fashion icons? No, they are not.

Then I realized the error of my ways: I was looking in every place and time but my own, believing in the popular idea that feminism is in the past. As often as I see headlines lamenting the death of feminism in my generation, swearing that young women just don't care about these issues anymore, my own experience is much to the contrary. I know some young feminists personally and admire others from afar, and since many of my personal fashion icons have ages similar to mine, it stands to reason that my feminist fashion icon would as well.

Enter the wonderful Ellen Page -- just two days older than me, every bit a feminist, and a source of personal fashion inspiration.

It's not necessarily easy to pinpoint the genuine style of an actor or a model; people in these professions are so often styled in a certain way for roles or promotional shoots. From what I can tell, though, Ellen Page's style hinges heavily on comfort, androgyny, layering, and simple dresses (usually black) when the occasion calls. Whether she looks dressy or casual or disinterested in fashion, she looks like herself. She's not a clotheshorse or, thus far, a muse for designers and stylists; she's Ellen, getting dressed, and I like the way she does it.

Ellen is a good ol' fashion tom boy and she wears it well. She even claims to wear the same jeans and flannel on almost every day of the week. Ellen told the New York Times “I always want to dress up like an animal or something really obscure, like a carrot or a wrench,” she said last weekend. “That would be awesome.”

“I am a feminist and I am totally pro-choice, but what’s funny is when you say that people assume that you are pro-abortion. I don’t love abortion but I want women to be able to choose and I don’t want white dudes in an office being able to make laws on things like this. I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?”

When asked about what Hollywood is like for women:
“I think it’s a total drag. I’ve been lucky to get interesting parts but there are still not that many out there for women. And everybody is so critical of women. If there’s a movie starring a man that tanks, then I don’t see an article about the fact that the movie starred a man and that must be why it bombed. Then a film comes out where a woman is in the lead, or a movie comes out where a bunch of girls are roller derbying, and it doesn’t make much money and you see articles about how women can’t carry a film.”

"All I mean by [calling myself a feminist] is that I would like women to be equal to men, so I'd probably hope that everyone's a feminist. Women still get paid less than men, and women's bodies are still treated like ornaments, and young girls are being hypersexualised, and it's really unfortunate. I hope that most people would be feminists, whether male or female."

on whether she had input on the way Juno dressed:
"Yes... I was very specific, I was like: 'This girl's wearing a sweater-vest!' I knew how I wanted her to look. I wanted her to wear a sweater-vest, or wear baggy pants or wear a flannel shirt and be unapologetic for it. Like: that's okay, that doesn't mean anything, you know what I'm saying? People get judged for the way they dress, especially in junior high or high school, and it's, like, really childish."

"I do think there's this hypersexualised energy that happens with young girls, especially because so much is projected on you. You're told what you're supposed to find sexy, what to listen to, how to dress, it just goes on and on. I get pretty frustrated with how young females are commonly portrayed in popular media, but maybe with a film like Juno that will slowly start changing and people will be less narrow-minded and less judgmental."

on whether she'll get tons of media attention:
"You know, I still live in Nova Scotia in a small apartment with used furniture and that's just genuinely who I am. It's not to make some judgment or statement against Hollywood. I keep my feet on the ground and just try to be as sincere as... you know, as honest as possible. And anyway I'm pretty boring. I mean, I'm an active person, I love camping, I love hiking, and I love to travel, and I love to read, and I play the guitar, and that's about it. I don't go out a lot. I'll never receive that kind of Lindsay Lohan attention because people will be like: 'Here's Ellen Page with her tent going camping!' I don't really think they'll do a story about Ellen Page eating a mooseburger in Newfoundland."


  1. Great choice!! She looks gorgeous and also like a totally different in each of these photos. And I'm really excited by those quotes- she's really go her feet firmly planted on the ground. It's great to hear a famous actress talking about this stuff!!!

  2. Excellent! Ellen Page has had the strongest feminist message of all the icons I've read today (they're all good choices, mind you). I enjoyed reading about a young feminist (and a Canadian to boot!).

  3. I have to second that - great choice! It's awesome that a young woman not primarily known as a feminist/activist but as an actress is out there being so outspoken about these topics. I also love that she calls herself a feminist simply for the fact that she's pro-equality, which is in sharp contrast to a lot of people I see calling themselves not-a-feminist despite holding feminist opinions because their idea of feminism is this very hostile humor-less-anti-men-cliché... and that she says everyone who is pro-equality is in fact feminist. Oh, and her style looks great too!


  4. PS: I realize that we cross-commented. Thanks for your comment :) as you see I continue to struggle with the feminist-thinkers-who-aren't-feminists...

  5. I like you, Ellen Page.

    And this reminds me I STILL haven't seen Whip It! how can this beeee.

    Nice choice! She is actually wearing a lot of pretty great stuff, and in a surprising array of garment genres. I'd not seen that, because.. well, where would I have seen that I guess? Hah. And I am so glad she's spoken about abortion rights in such straight terms.

    I could go for a mooseburger.

  6. What a great choice! She seems like such an interesting person, but I love camping and used furniture and travel.

  7. ya know, i didn't used to be the biggest ellen page fan...this changed everything....

  8. She's such a dude, and so level-headed. Reading those quotes reminds me of Christina Ricci - when I was younger I was always impressed by her ideas and articulacy. It's refreshing to read views we all support expressed with such frankness and lack of jargon.

  9. I don't think she's boring at all, in fact, I'm even more interested now! This is an excellent choice I love the way she thinks.

  10. Although I don't identify as a feminist and I'm about as far from being fashionable/a fashion blogger as is humanly possible, I found this round-up from the Feminist Fashion bloggers very interesting. I read around to some of the other posts and comments and it was really interesting to hear how fashion is a feminist expression for so many. I'll have to figure out if staying in my pajamas 24-7 is more of a statement than I realized ;)

  11. I love ellen page's style, i have since I watched Juno for the first time. Since then I haven't tried too hard to be fashionable. I wear what makes me feel comfortable, like oversize blazers and boys jeans. People ask me if i'm a lesbian occasionally, but since I know that I'm not, that really doesn't bug me. You made a great choice for your role model!

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