ESTJ: Helen Parr/Elastigirl, “The Incredibles”

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The Director, The Achiever, The Organizer

I’ve noticed a trend in my ESTJ collection—lots of strong female characters.

That’s not a complaint, we need more of those. But it seems odd that when a strong female character is ESTJ, she’s a hero, and if she’s ENTJ, she’s a villain (okay, that happens to male characters, too; but why are we less comfortable with leaders who create new rules rather than follow the old ones?). Also, strong female ESTJs seem to be sidekicks or supporting characters—you’ve got your Hermiones, your Saaviks, your Princess Leias. Rarely the leads.

Helen’s the lead female character in The Incredibles, but the movie’s main lead is Bob. When Elastigirl heads into action, she’s every bit as fun to watch as Mr. Incredible—that stretching through multiple doors scene is a classic. Makes me wonder what the story would look like if it started out from her perspective.

There’s some production company out there working on a female superhero movie, I’m sure. Right? Right, guys?

Dominant Function, (Te) Extraverted Thinking: “Organize the Experience”

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Helen’s just trying to keep everything together. As a young superhero, she was out to be the best. “Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so.” In her married life, she still wants to do everything right, and to run an orderly, successful home. She still makes note of her achievements, too—like unpacking the last box from their move-in three years ago.

She needs a partner, though, and hers is frustratingly slow to pitch in—he was almost late to their wedding night, for one thing. Helen tries to encourage Bob in his work, especially when she believes he’s gotten a promotion, but most of the time she has to badger him into engaging with the family. She hates coming across as the bad guy when she has to be the one enforcing the rules.

Helen quickly takes charge of the situation and stays focused in a crisis, even when missiles are bearing down on the plane she and her children are in. She orders the kids into action and pulls them together when all seems lost and they’re screaming and crying. She’s direct and honest with them about the dangers they’re facing, and doesn’t sugarcoat the facts.

She eventually encourages the kids to use their powers to their full potential. “Run as fast as you can!” she tells Dash. She demands a lot from them right away, though, and pushes Violet too hard at first.

Helen will keep her family together no matter what. She’ll trek halfway across the world to find her husband, and she won’t let him face danger alone. She continually reminds him that they’re a team now—both as husband and wife, and as superheroes.

Auxiliary Function, (Si) Introverted Sensing: “Relive the Experience”

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Helen’s smart and cautious. She notices details—like a white hair on her husband’s shirt, or a piece of rubble on his shoulder. She has a background in aviation and flies with seasoned professionalism. In the big battle with the Omni-Droid, she holds Bob back from taking the final shot until it’s the perfect moment—they can’t miss their only chance.

Helen’s moved on from her old life as a superhero, and desires to settle into the comforting rhythms of family life. She won’t do anything to upset or endanger that life, like letting Dash run track at school, or sneaking out for late night adventures like her husband. She wants to blend in with everyone else and be normal.

Still, she is Elastigirl. She tries to not think about it, but her old friend Edna Mode forces her to recall her true identity. Joining her husband’s adventure, Helen has to find a way to integrate her past super-self with her new life as Mrs. Parr.

Tertiary Function, (Ne) Extraverted Intuition: “Conceptualize From the Experience”

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Helen’s superpower means that despite her Te-dom, her greatest strength is being flexible. She adapts to many a situation, stretching to reach her goals and turning into a life raft, a slingshot, or a parachute as needed. She’s basically a shape-shifter, which comes in handy both as a superhero and as a mom.

Helen tries to adapt to life as a “normal,” but she can’t stand the constant change of location her husband’s mistakes force upon the family. Helen also has a tendency to worry and jump to conclusions about what her husband is up to. She’s all for fun and playful banter (or for making weird faces with the baby), but she believes there’s a time to set that aside and get down to work—or to remember that you have to be at your wedding.

When the situation changes, though, Helen is able to change her mind and encourage her kids—and herself—to embrace their powers.

Inferior Function, (Fi) Introverted Feeling: “Evaluate the Experience”

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Helen is definitely the rule-enforcer of the home, but only because she cares. She doesn’t necessarily want to squelch anyone’s individuality, but she has to put those concerns aside in order to protect everyone. Though she’s normally stoic and stern, she breaks down into a sobbing mess when she believes she’s lost everything to her husband’s imagined infidelity. It’s quite unlike her, and it takes the strong words of fellow Te-user Edna Mode to snap her out of her funk and get her back into action.

Once it becomes necessary to use their powers, Helen shows great insight and tenderness in bringing out the best in her kids. She apologizes to Violet for pushing her too hard and encourages her to trust her own instincts, and praises Dash for being a trooper. She’s fiercely protective of her kids and lets herself be turned into a human projectile to save Jack-Jack.

She takes her wedding vows very seriously and reminds her husband that he doesn’t have to fight alone. She’ll always stick by him, “for better or for worse.” Their new shared adventures together remind her why she loves this guy so much.

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