Fiona Gallagher, from Showtime’s hit TV show Shameless, is breaking boundaries for women. Originating from the rough South Side of Chicago, she wasn’t dealt the best cards. Her mentally ill mother and alcoholic father were never equipped to raise their six children. Fiona took guardianship and responsibility of her siblings from a young age, forcing her to drop out of high school and work indefinitely to support everyone. With no help from her parents, she managed the household and cared for her siblings.
While she does make some bad life decisions, she is an example of strength and perseverance. Along with being completely badass, Fiona’s character challenges traditional gender roles and stereotypes and empowers women. Not only is she an incredibly strong person who is independent and self-sufficient, she also has many strong personality traits that make her a great representation of real women who are raw and uncut.
Generally speaking, women portrayed on television shows are not usually made to be unedited, unfiltered and explicit, but Fiona is. She doesn’t hold back and she isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants, which is something ground-breaking for women as a whole. Many women are terrified of being shamed for being vocally expressive and being labeled as “bi*chy” or “bossy," but Fiona shows no fear of being stereotyped. She’s a loud woman who doesn’t think twice about telling others exactly what she wants and what she’s going to do to get it. She doesn’t feel the need to apologize for being who she is.
It’s important to take the time to recognize female characters when they are truly great because that is a rare occasion. Here are just a few reasons why we love Fiona Gallagher.
1. She has sex. A lot. With multiple partners.
She’s not ashamed of being sexually free and shows us that women have every right to have sex with who they want, when they want. There’s nothing wrong with being sexually active and enjoying sex. Fiona expresses her own sexuality, regardless of the opinions of others. As women, it is hard to live in a society that is constantly shaming us, but she fights against the unfair stereotypes that exist.
2. She is the head of the household.
She cares for her siblings, goes to work and finds the time to make sure everything is in place at home — all with help from no one. When we consider traditional gender roles, we usually see the man as the head of the house. This is not the case at all in Shameless. Fiona never stops to think about herself for even a minute and it shows us how much she really cares about her family.
3. She expresses what she wants and sets out to achieve it by any means.
She even takes the risk of buying a business, owning it and managing it, which is an unusual accomplishment for a young woman on television. To everyone’s surprise, she does extremely well as a business owner. We need to see more women on TV being business owners, being part of the professional world and doing big things.
4. She rarely wears a bra which is empowering.
It’s the little things, I promise. Believe it or not, going braless is still somewhat demonized today. Fiona is comfortable with her body and feels no need to give into society’s expectations. She doesn’t care what someone else may think of her. As long as she’s comfortable, that’s all that matters. This mindset is extremely important for women to possess.
5. She doesn’t feel the need to wear makeup.
She often picks a comfortable outfit over a “sexy” one, which isn’t always common for women to do on TV. It shows us that we don’t always have to kill ourselves to look beautiful. Fiona is real, raw and natural — and she still kills it.
6. She isn’t afraid to speak up.
That’s huge for a female character, which is sad to say, but true. Not only is that finally addressing the fact that women don’t need to be quiet and submissive, but it is also getting the point across that we have important things to say and that our voices matter.
7. She knows what she wants and what to do.
When she found herself pregnant, she made it clear that she was going to decide what she wanted to do. Since a woman’s body is her own and no one else’s, it was really great to see Fiona take charge and make the best decision for herself. Her experience with abortion was something so real that it almost seemed unscripted. Every woman’s experience is different and unique and when she went through hers, it showed us that not everyone feels regret and remorse after they terminate.
It is so important for young girls to see strong and powerful women characters in popular television shows. Positive representation can be the difference in a girl's confidence and what she believes she is capable of. All it takes is one character, like Fiona, to help women embrace the beauty of being who they are, regardless of society's expectations.
Lead Image Credit: John Wells Production, Warner Bros. Television, Showtime Networks.