I was raised on a steady diet of Broadway musicals — you know, those sing-a-long, toe-tapping plays full of wit, whimsy and heavy doses of glittery goodness? Entire vacations were spent listening to soundtracks on repeat, but lately, there’s ONE that stands out above the rest for me. I may have come to the Broadway version later in life, but I’ve loved the John Waters’ 1988 movie since I was a wee tot. Cool fashions (ratted-up ‘dos and sparkly dresses)! Cool tunes (“Good Morning, Baltimore,” anyone?)! Cool scenery (1960s Baltimore, complete with old-fashioned cars)! And…that plucky lead character with a heart of gold and mind determined to change things for the better! In honor of tonight’s Hairspray Live, here are four life lessons from Hairspray’s Tracy Turnblad…
What is it about this film that speaks so loudly to me? The answer showed itself in the face of Tracy, a bright-eyed, brown-haired girl in a pleated skirt with her radio and can of Ultra Clutch Hairspray never out of arm’s reach. She’s just your average teen who wants nothing more than to be a regular dancer on The Corny Collins Show. She’s spunky. A bit sassy. And she’s not as skinny as some of the other blonde, silky-skinned dancers. But Tracy is oblivious to all that. In fact, her self-esteem is as high as her hair, and a smile — a genuine one — is permanently etched across her face. And did I mention just how infectious that smile is??
Be who you are — mean girls be damned
There are a lot of mean-spirited people out there — people who rejoice in bullying you and in trying to change who you are. Tracy shows us the power of NOT letting them get to you. It can be a scary road to walk when you feel so alone, but if Tracy proves anything, it’s that it’s most definitely a journey worth taking. Who you are is a BEAUTIFUL thing — probably the truest, purest, most beautiful thing you could ever do in life.
Follow your dreams
There will be times in life where people will try to deter you from following your dreams. Heck, some of those people are probably the same ones who find it necessary to bully you. Don’t let them. Realize your dream and GO FOR IT. There’s nothing more worthwhile than having a passion in life and pursuing it fiercely and with all your heart. Imagine if Tracy had just given up on getting on The Corny Collins Show! That would have been a sad day — a very sad day, indeed!
Fight for what’s right
It might not be easy — or popular, for that matter — but fighting for what’s right is one of the most courageous things we’ll ever do. It can change your town, your country, the world. Tracy was determined to make a difference and she did so with everything she had, so don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Working hard for change is never a futile endeavor, so remember that.
Have fun in life
Tracy doesn’t just walk through life. She dances through it, with an effortless ease that I’ve always admired. She realizes something truly remarkable: Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Life is all about finding those little pockets of enjoyable moments and embracing them with all you’ve got. I guarantee you that your upbeat positivity will spread faster than a wild fire and have a ripple effect on everyone around you. Then maybe they’ll “pay it forward” and spread that positivity to everyone they know — do you see the patter here? It’s a pretty powerful thing, if you ask me!
Take your cue from Tracy. She knows who she is. She stands her ground for what’s right and leaves the naysayers (read: Amber Von Tussle) in her dancing dust. She loves herself and will never compromise. Me? I may look a bit like an elf. And I may have a little stomach bulge that could be declared its own mountain. But in my heart, I know who I am and I’m comfortable with who I’ve become. How can you ever love anyone else if you’re constantly criticizing yourself?
When was the last time you had a Tracy Turnblad moment? There’s a Tracy in you that’s just waiting to jump out and burst into song. Once you find her, hold on tight because it’s going to be one glorious, satisfying ride… xoxo