There are few things more depressing than trying to think of movies about young women who aren’t white. It’s also depressing trying to think of movies about young women who aren’t straight. Oh, and when you try to think of movies starring women who are plus-sized? Ha! Good luck with coming up with more than a handful, if that much.
Despite the fact that there are so many different kinds of girls out there–black, brown, queer, fat, etc–the media really hasn’t caught up, especially the movie industry. Seriously, we have a larger chance of seeing vampire girls than seeing a gay Asian chick. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure there are more gay Asian chicks than vampires. What gives? Er, okay, the answer is racism but anyway…
There might be a huge lack of diversity in some of your favorite movies, but there are still some great films out there that actually represent the diversity of young women’s experiences. Check out these 15 movies that aren’t about straight, thin white people and add some new favorites to your list.
GirlhoodRarely do I call a movie beautiful but this movie is straight up beautiful. It's a French movie about a black girl who becomes friends with a crew of tough but loving girls and discovers the meaning of sisterhood, growing up, and being vulnerable. If you're into coming of age movies then you absolutely need to see this ASAP.
Beasts Of The Southern WildIf you think Quvenzhané Wallis is just that cute little girl with the puppy purses then you need to get your life together and check her out in the movie that made her the youngest person ever nominated for an Oscar. Beasts Of The Southern Wild is about a young girl named Hushpuppy who has to learn how to be brave and take the lead when her father grows ill in the midst of a flood ravaging their community. It's an absolutely gorgeous movie with a touch of fantasy and a lot of heart.
Bend It Like BeckhamThis movie about the daughter of Sikhs who rebels against gendered traditionalism to play soccer is an absolute classic. It's funny and is a great early introduction to gender inequities. You don't have to like soccer to like this movie, by the way, but it definitely helps.
But I'm A CheerleaderIf you're into campy movies then you're going to love But I'm A Cheerleader, the story of a teen cheerleader who, after experiencing homosexual desires, is sent away to a bizarre camp to send the gay away. This movie is ridiculous in the absolute best way.
Show Me LoveWho doesn't love a good opposites attract movie? If you're a sucker for this cliche but you want to see it in a queer context, check out Show Me Love.
Gotta Kick It UpBack in the early days of Disney Channel Original Movies, this film stood out from all of the others for its portrayal of a group of Latina teens from East LA. Their goal? To have a kick ass competitive cheer crew. Their problem...getting a kick ass competitive cheer crew. If you want a movie that is surprisingly good for a DCOM with a little more diversity than the usual DCOM fare--oh, and some early 00s realness--you've gotta (ha) check it out.
HairsprayWhether you watch the original 80s version or the 2007 rendition, Hairspray is seriously one of the only movies with a fat protagonist who believes in loving and embracing her body and rejects feeling restricted because of it. Honestly, you don't even have to like musicals very much to appreciate this movie.
Just Another Girl On The IRTIf you want to watch a movie about a young black woman who speaks her mind and is all about empowering herself and her people...then you're going to love Just Another Girl On The IRT from start to finish. Oh, and you're also going to end up wanting everyone's ultra '90s clothes, too.
Ma Vie En RoseIf you want to watch a movie about transgender girls, please watch Ma Vie En Rose. It's a dramady about a young French girl who is still seen by her family and her suburb as a boy. If you have any skepticism about how someone so young can understand their gender identity, watch this movie and think again.
PariahUnfortunately there aren't too many coming of age movies about young, black lesbians. But one that is out there is Pariah and it is absolutely brilliant. It follows the life of a girl named Alike who is embracing her identity as a butch lesbian while trying to keep it on the DL at the same time.
PersepolisWhether you're into animated movies or not, you need to watch Persepolis. Based on the (awesome) book of the same name, this movie tells the story of a young girl who is growing up in Iran during the revolution. It's absolutely different from any other coming of age story you've ever seen, trust.
Real Women Have CurvesSure, the title of this movie might make you cringe because curves obviously don't make a woman. But this movie--and the title--is ultimately about the empowerment of a young Latina woman who is learning to embrace who she is--love handles and all. Definitely worth a watch if you want a good dose of body image positivity.
SelenaIf you don't know who the late singer Selena is then you should one, find out; two, listen to her music; three; fall in love and then watch the biopic about her life. It stars, guess who? Yeah, ultra '90s JLo. Don't let that distract you from the empowering story of a young Latina woman who followed her dreams all the way until her tragic death.
The Incredibly True Adventure Of Two Girls In LoveThis movie is about a black girl from a bougie background who begins a relationship with a lower-class white girl. Their differences add tension, but can that be overpowered by their affection toward each other? Er, you're going to have to watch the movie to find out. I'm not spoiling!
The Joy Luck ClubThere's an embarrassing lack of movies about Asian-Americans. But at least there's The Joy Luck Club, a movie about a generations of mothers and daughters and how they have navigated the ups and downs of life.
What other movies are empowering for young women of color? What about queer girls? Fat girls? Tell us in the comments!