Heidi Montag, "feminist hero"

The New York Times heralds the "Hills" starlet as a role model.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published March 24, 2008 11:25PM (EDT)

Speaking of kick-ass female heroines ... Heidi Montag is returning to our living rooms tonight with the premiere of the new season of "The Hills"!

Uh-huh, you read that right. You've spent all this time lamenting the lack of role models for today's girls, while surveying the stark pop culture landscape for a young woman with a sharp tongue, steel trap of a mind and the kind of self-confidence that could swallow alive the entire self-help section of Barnes & Noble. But -- sillies! -- that young woman was right before your eyes all along, flexing her feminist credentials by ascending the Hollywood it-list and occasionally putting her lying leprechaun of a boyfriend in his place, according to Ginia Bellafante writing for the New York Times:

Defying our expectations, Heidi has emerged as a kind of feminist hero this season, climbing her way to a bigger position at the event-planning company where she orchestrates Nascar parties, and refusing to acquiesce to the demands of her fiancé, Spencer, that she get herself home on time. Her career-mindedness sets their relationship off course. Heidi identifies the problem with no name: a boyfriend who sits around an apartment decorated to look like an ’80s video arcade while trying to deny Heidi a real wedding with the glory of registering. Her groundswell of self-assertion begins when he insists on eloping, prompting Heidi to declare, "This isn't, like, Spencer's relationship and you decide what we do."

The full-on joyous Oprah-fication of Heidi culminates with the show's return and gives "The Hills" a new momentum. After taking a break from Spencer at her parents' modest house in Crested Butte, Colo., Heidi returns to Los Angeles to kick him out and chastises him for taking her flat-screen TV with him. How proud Gloria Allred would be.

One gets the sense that either Montag or young feminists everywhere should take offense at Bellafante's comments -- but which is it? Thanks to Feministing's sly detective work, we don't have to wonder: Bellafante is the very same author who argued that feminism was dead in a now infamous 1998 TIME cover story. Believe me, if I thought Montag was a feminist icon, I'd be dancing on the movement's grave, too.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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