What Olivia Pope Taught Me About Feminism and Growing Up

I have always been drawn to stories about powerful women. There is something about their brazen, yet tender, approach to life that has always drawn me in. When the show Scandal first premiered, the little girl inside me, the one who used to spend hours’ a day dreaming of being a secret agent and one day ruling the world, sighed a breath of relief. Relief that for once I saw someone else living the way I always imagined I one day would. Except for of course that affair with the leader of the free world, but I digress. If you haven’t seen the show, I’m talking about resident super woman Olivia Pope.

Olivia Pope is a force to be reckoned with, and that’s putting it lightly. Now before I go too much farther, I know I must address the elephant in the article. Because television and film tends to get a bad rap for creating unrealistic expectations of how the world is supposed to be, however, there are actually a lot of redeeming qualities we can look to as a sort of loose guide to living life. And if television and film are the guide, then I like to think of Olivia Pope as my tour guide.

In the last two years, I have seen a lot of changes in my life, I graduated from college, moved home, and found myself navigating the harsh realities of “adulting,” and it has been the guidelines set forth by Olivia Pope that have helped me navigate this journey. While not perfect, this show has been helpful in helping me realize that life is beautiful, messy, and downright confusing, and that is OK. In fact, it’s better than OK – it’s normal. Here are just a few of the reasons all women should take a page from the Olivia Pope book of life.

Handle It

Olivia’s one key phrase that has provided me the most solace in the last five seasons is when she says, “It’s handled.” Anytime something goes wrong in life, or there is some emergency that needs my immediate attention, I handle it. I know that seems pretty logical, but how many times to things go wrong and we put it off to the side just hoping it will fade with time? Well, that’s not the Olivia Pope way. When life goes wrong, she handles it.

Dress for Success

Women and fashion seems to get misunderstood a lot of the time. I don’t think dressing nice or taking pride in how you look is wrong, and Olivia proves this time and time again. She is a smart business woman who also loves to rock a good stiletto heel. She has taught me it’s okay to be beautiful and smart, that’s not a contradiction, it’s a lifestyle.

Be A Gladiator

This is a lesson you might have to watch the show to understand, but Olivia and her “friends” (I use that word very loosely), are always talking about being gladiators. About fighting for what’s right, putting on the white hat, and being a voice for the voiceless. I love this so much, because in the midst of real life, we’re always forgetting to stand up for others and really make a mess on behalf of other people.

Parents Don’t Have All the Answers

As you get older, you learn that your parents knew so much more than you ever thought was possible. However, I think you also learn that they still don’t have the answers. In the last few years I have looked to my parents for guidance more times than I can count, and sometimes even they didn’t know what to do. Olivia Pope has the worst parents ever, and she navigates adulthood on her own, and proves that sometimes you just have to make your own path.

Act First, Cry Later

The truth is, sometimes you just need a good cry. Although, it isn’t always the time or the place for it. What I love about Olivia, is that on those rare occasions when you actually see her breakdown, she always does it privately. Don’t get me wrong, you sometimes do need to cry on the shoulder of a friend, but there is something to be said about not breaking down in an office meeting or at the first sign of crisis. As a woman, she taught me how to act first and then cry later.

Stand in the Sun

I have reflected on this lesson many times. Standing in the sun is a phrase Olivia utters to her lover, Fitz, when he brings up the idea of them running away to Vermont together. It is an idea that means to stand in truth, to no longer hide. I think that is a fear all women face. Personally, this is a lesson I’m still grappling with. I’m trying to be less afraid of standing in the sun, less afraid of risk and of loss. If that’s you too, welcome to the club. It’s time to stand in the sun.

Feature image: Disney ABC Television Group

Vannessa Jackson
Vannessa is a contributing writer for Quirky Daily. She is a lover of all things entertainment, especially anything comedic. She has dreams of becoming Mindy Kaling, but until then, she's enjoying pursuing her dreams in the beautiful city of angels. You can follow her on twitter NNessleigh or check out her other articles on clippings.me/vjackson.