On the surface, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is just another cheesy teen romance film which sets up an unrealistic expectation of what teenage boys are like, and puts enormous amounts of pressure on girls to have a boyfriend. However, if you look deeper I believe these female characters can teach us a thing or two about girl power.
Lara-Jean is everything I would have liked to have seen on the screen when I was growing up. As a character she isn’t particularly loud or outspoken in the film, but I wouldn’t call her shy, either. She was never mean and while she certainly wasn’t perfect and runs away from her problems on more than one occasion, it feels great to have a more introverted type of girl portrayed in films. I would have resonated with her a lot in my teen years.
HOWEVER, it isn’t Lara-Jean who taught me something about feminism in this film. It was her eleven-year-old sister, Kitty Covey.
In many teen films, you will find the stereotypical younger sibling whose only purpose is to get on the main character’s nerves and produce some funny one liners that will make the adults watching the movie laugh. And yes, Kitty Covey did fill this stereotype, but she was so much more than that.
In fact, Kitty Covey was something that I have never seen before in a younger sibling of a teen film, she was a feminist.
Frankly, I thought it was pretty amazing. When I was eleven, I didn’t even know what feminism or being a feminist was. Granted, in 2008 it was a very different time, but I wish I was that assured when I was eleven years old, and felt so strong and passionate about women’s rights. She was often seen sporting a ‘feminist’ necklace throughout the movie and put her dad in his place when he tried to explain how the female body worked.
Having such a strong female voice come from such a young character is something that I haven’t seen in a long time, if ever. I can only imagine the impact this will have on young girls seeing someone their age in a movie openly be a feminist and actually say intelligent and meaningful things rather than being used for a punchy one liner.
And let’s not forget, there would be no Lara-Jean and Peter if it wasn’t for Kitty. Of course, sending out letters that were supposed to be private probably wasn’t the best thing to do – but give her a break she is only eleven! However, this showed the girl making the first move, even if Lara-Jean didn’t know she was doing it. Suddenly, because of Kitty, this became a movie where the girl approaches the boy, rather than a girl pining after a boy, which was so refreshing to watch. Girls don’t need to wait around for a man, if they want one they should go and seek out a relationship themselves. How refreshing!
So while Lara-Jean may be the protagonist of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, it was her sister Kitty Covey that stole the show for me. She changed the dynamic of the ‘annoying sister’ stereotype and became such an important character to not only the plot, but to me. Seeing such a young and proud feminist is, I hope something we are going to be seeing more because after all, having strong, preteen female characters is just as important as having teenage ones.