The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Embracing Flawed Female Protagonists



At no point is Minnie shamed for her desires, the direction is not exploitative in anyway. When watching Minnie walk into bad situations and make mistakes for the sake of her own exploration and growth, we are not condemning her, we are simply observing and, often, empathizing. Going through the teenage years and discovering sexuality is not a new or crazy radical idea, it is simply something rarely explored through a female character in film. Heller has changed this through The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Rather than shaking our heads at Minnie’s actions, it is the adult characters we see to be careless and often self-obsessed. Her mother, Charlotte (Kristen Wiig), has not seemed to embrace motherhood and longs to stay in her youth, drinking and partying with friends with her two young daughters up in their rooms or watching TV nearby. Monroe projects his own issues onto Minnie and dismisses her thoughts and feelings as ‘childish’ and ‘stupid’, all whilst taking advantage of her eagerness to experience sex. It is the youth we identify with and the adults we dismiss.

However, both Minnie and her mother Charlotte seek one thing; love. They learn together through their own experiences that love does not necessarily come from another person. This is discovered through putting themselves at risk of heartbreak; being human. Heller is showing us women worth more than their bodies.

Minnie openly expresses the flaws she finds in herself. For all her naivety, sharp wit and insecurities, this makes her endearingly real. When she stands naked in front of her mirror examining her own body, the majority of us will likely have stood in her place. She is not our typical throwaway 'strong female character' because she is not always strong, she makes a lot of stupid and selfish decisions, but Bel Powley's portrayal and Heller's direction do not invite judgement or speculation; only watching and understanding. Everything we see is on Minnie's terms, because it’s her life and her lessons to learn as a young woman.

“If we start to view women with agency – and with needs and desires that are as important as boys’ – it takes heterosexual men out of a position of power.” – Marielle Heller, Director