7 Life Lessons From 'The First Wives Club' You Should Know

Take them or leave them, lean in or lean out, these women are ones we all wanted to emulate after the movie’s release—and today we still totally do.
09/29/2016 11:54 am ET Updated Sep 29, 2016

For Vogue, by Brooke Bobb.

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The year was 1996 and the women were Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton. The song was Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” The movie was an epic ode to female empowerment, and it was called The First Wives Club. Today marks 20 years since its release, and the film’s sarcastic, brilliantly colorful feminist undertones couldn’t be more on point. After being jolted and cheated on, Brenda (Midler), Annie (Keaton), and Elise (Hawn) band together to form a coalition in order to seek justice from their egotistical, manipulative dogs of ex-husbands. It’s irreverent and oh so true, and even if you aren’t a die-hard Gloria Steinem devotee—she even has a cameo in the film—any woman can appreciate the First Wives Club “hear me roar” campaign. Really, you’re not alone if you’ve secretly danced and sung along with the ladies at the end: “And don’t tell me what to do! / And don’t tell me what to say!”

Take them or leave them, lean in or lean out, these women are ones we all wanted to emulate after the movie’s release—and today we still totally do. So drop your wedding band in a class of champagne, toast to chick flicks and independence, and heed these seven shreds of real-life wisdom from The First Wives Club.

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1. Success is the best revenge.

“Ladies, you have to be strong and independent, and remember, don’t get mad, get everything.” —Ivana Trump

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2. Always tell it like it is.

“I’m saying this to you with love, compassion, and the spirit of true sisterhood: You are full of shit!” —Brenda

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3. Don’t make excuses for your vices.  

“I drink because I am a sensitive and highly strung person!” —Elise

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4. During a breakup, indulge to your heart’s content.

“Bye-bye, love; hello, Pop-Tarts.” —Brenda

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5. Making false justifications to yourself will lead you astray (and maybe toward overinjecting).

“Plastic surgery is like good grooming; it’s like brushing your teeth.” —Elise

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6. Face the facts.

“Aaron is so terrific, we’ve been married for 25 years, and Chris is just perfect, lesbians are great nowadays and, well, the marriage is going to be really fine, Aaron and I, you know we’re temporarily, sort of, just a little bit . . . we’re separated.” —Annie

[Boisterous laughter from Brenda and Elise ensue.]

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7. Sometimes mother isn’t always right.

“Well, what if I found someone else, mother? I mean, it’s possible . . . maybe?” —Annie

“Oh, honey, you’re 46; a woman your age has a better chance of being slaughtered by a psychopath.” —Annie’s mom

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