When I was a teenager, I picked up an indie film called Little Miss Sunshine on the recommendation of my favorite video store clerk. He had good taste and was affable as well, so I trusted his judgment. The name sounded corny but it had to be good if he said it was, right?
On watching it, I realized it wasn’t good, it was AMAZING. It was the perfect blend of real-life, drama, and black humor. The film taught me a bunch of life lessons, lessons that I still rely on to this day.
On August 18, 2021, Little Miss Sunshine will be 15 years old. This is my attempt to honor its anniversary. Or more specifically, honor Olive, the little girl in the film. While there were other characters that I found intriguing, Olive stood out to me the most. She inspired me because she was authentic and brave even though she was only seven years old.
Here are 5 life lessons I learned from her as a teenager and what I continue to learn as a grown-up today:
1. Find your joy
Olive’s family was at each other’s throats all the time, but she didn’t let that stop her from finding joy in her life. She was the kind of person who tried her best to be positive in challenging times. Her family was the very definition of dysfunctional, but she always found a way to keep herself happy.
2. Believe in your dreams
Olive loved beauty pageants, so she participated in one. Even though she knew she did not look like a typical pageant girl, she tried her best to win. She was aware she was bespectacled, chubby, and toothy, and still followed her dream.
3. Live life on your own terms
Olive’s father hints that she needs to watch what she eats as she is fat and tries to convince her to stop eating ice cream. She almost gives in, but then changes her mind and eats it. This scene taught me an important lesson in body positivity. In a scene towards the end, when she has to wear a swimsuit, she feels self-conscious. But even though she struggles with her body image, she walks out on the stage wearing the same outfit.
4. Follow through even when you are afraid
Even when the world is trying to stop you, you have to have your back. Olive was afraid to go on stage and perform after she saw all the other dolled-up contestants. In fact, even her brother and father tried to stop her to avoid her being laughed at, and later, the judge herself. Still, she persists and finishes her dance.
5. Accept failure and don’t let it bring you down
Olive is happy at the end of the movie. Of course, she wanted to win. But when she didn’t and got banned from participating in future pageants in California, she took it in her stride. Instead of getting overly attached to winning and losing, she focused on a far more important thing: having fun.
What life lessons did you learn from Little Miss Sunshine? Who was your favorite character and why? Please let me know in the comments section below.