Kristen Bell on the How She's Learned to Embrace Her 'Brave' and 'Cowardly Parts'

The actress was honored with the #SeeHer award on Sunday night, which recognizes "a woman who embodies the values set forth"

Kristen Bell is learning to accept every part of herself.

On Sunday night, the Good Place actress was honored with the #SeeHer award at the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards and gave an inspiring speech about being a woman and learning to embrace her flaws.

“Sometimes I do get asked, ‘What does it mean to be a woman today?’ And I respond always by asking them to repeat the question so I can buy more time, because it’s a really, really hard question,” Bell joked at the beginning of her speech. “My immediate reaction is always to answer with words like ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ and ‘powerful.'”

“But if I’m being honest, to me, being a woman isn’t about being brave or being strong or being powerful. It isn’t about being anything specific. It is just about giving yourself permission to be the things you already are,” she continued. “Which seems very easy, but it is not, because women have been conditioned to fit into boxes. Usually tiny, pretty sparkly boxes, with bows on them generally.”

Kristen Bell accepts the #SeeHer Award onstage
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

However, Bell said she’s learned to ignore that box, and paid homage to some of the unique female characters she’s had the chance to portray throughout her career that have embodied this narrative.

“So to me, the idea of womanhood is someone who sheds the perfect little box and owns their complexity. [And] I’ve been really lucky to be able to play some really complex women,” she said.

“Veronica Mars who was sassy and strong, but also soft and sad. Eleanor Shellstrop (The Good Place) who’s tough and independent, but who was also capable of love and community,” Bell explained. “Princess Anna (Frozen) who’s most likely the most unprincessy princess that has ever been animated, and Sarah Marshall (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) who, let’s be honest, was kind of an a——, but to me she was a really likable a——.”

“What I’ve learned from all that is that nobody is just one thing,” she added. “We are all all of the things.”

Kristen Bell arrives at the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards
Steve Granitz/WireImage

The 39-year-old star — who wore an elegant green jumpsuit for the awards night — went on to thank her fans for the award, which she said will serve as a reminder for her to always shed the “pretty” box.

“So thank you for this, the reminder to #SeeHer and see myself in total, the brave parts and the cowardly parts and even the parts that cry at sloths,” Bell concluded, referencing her famous viral video meltdown from 2011 when her husband, Dax Shephard, surprised her with a chance to meet her favorite animal.

Past recipients of the #SeeHer award include Viola Davis (2017), Gal Gadot (2018) and Claire Foy (2019). According to the Critics’ Choice association, the honor “recognizes a woman who embodies the values set forth by the SeeHer movement, to push boundaries on changing stereotypes and acknowledge the importance of authentic portrayals of women across the entertainment landscape.”

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