Let’s Support Each Other – Lessons From Little Miss Sunshine

I recently rewatched one of my favorite movies, little miss sunshine (2006). If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a hilarious and heartwarming story that captures the wacky and wonderful essence of family, in all its dysfunctional glory.

The youngest member of the family, eight-year-old Olive, has a dream: to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. But Olive doesn’t quite aspect as the stereotypical beauty pageant contestant. And, as we eventually found out, Olive certainly doesn’t dance like your average beauty pageant contestant either. Her grandpa, who sniffs cocaine, choreographs her dance routine and it’s… pretty special.

Unfortunately, Olive’s grandfather dies (of a cocaine overdose) on the way to the pageant (and is wrapped in a sheet in the back of the VW family bus), so Olive dedicates her final big performance to her grandfather…and decides to give it her all on stage.

But she almost doesn’t, because at first, her team of followers try to stop her. They want to protect her from being ridiculed. By this point in the pageant, the rest of the family—Olive’s suicidal uncle, played by Steve Carrel; her angsty teen brother who hasn’t spoken in months, played by Paul Dano; and her growth-obsessed father, played by Greg Kinnear—have realized that Olive is NOT a fit for the pageant scene and that she’s going to make a fool of herself. So, as nicely as possible, they try to talk her out of performing her dance number in the talent show.

But Olive’s stressed but supportive mother (played by Toni Collette) explains because they need to let Olive dance, even if they laugh at her.

“Olive wants do this,” Mom explains. “She loves who she is. She loves to dance and has worked very hard to prepare for this contest, so us I need to let her do this.”

And just like that, Olive performs her outrageously funny and completely inappropriate dance routine (to the Rick James song “Super Freak”). Her family was right to be concerned: Pageant organizers and contestant families are shocked, then mortified, then outraged.

However, little Olive continues to dance, determined to finish what she started.

When the furious pageant organizer tries to get Olive’s dad to crash her performance, there’s a pivotal moment when Dad is about to get Olive to participate. arrest dancing, but then he changes his mind and instead jumps on stage and dances WITH her! The other family members quickly join in, much to the regret of the pageant organizers, but to Olive’s utter delight. She is excited to be dancing with her family in the parade of her dreams.

It’s a powerful moment because it says a lot about the importance of having a strong support network in our lives. Who has bear back in life? Who is supporting our dreams and other endeavors, whether big, small, or not the norm? Who in our lives will join us on stage, if necessary, and make a fool of themselves in support of something that means so much to us?

Similarly, who in our lives might be in need of us to jump his internship? What kind of small but meaningful show of support could we give to someone we care about, who could Do you really use that little bit of extra breath right now?

We all need a small but committed team of supporters to jump on stage with us, when and if we need it. Or even if they just stare from the sidelines, that’s fine too…as long as they cheer us on.

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