01.14.13 Truth & Wisdom

Mariska Hargitay: Modern Day Heroine

Mariska Hargitay: Modern Day Heroine

BY Sarah Neal

Around my house, Monday nights are known as Law and Order: SVU marathon night.

Nothing like settling in after a stressful day at work to watch three hours of heinous assaults, autopsies, and intense interrogations to help a girl relax, RIGHT?

On a positive note, SVU reminds us there are perverted perps in this world, and we need to be aware of our surroundings. On the downside, every time I catch a creepy guy staring at me, my first thought is: “HE’S TAKING MEASUREMENTS FOR HIS SKIN SUIT.” (Another negative: Using police jargon like, ‘perps,’ when you’re not one. Obnoxious.)

I love the show because it’s proof modern heroines are alive and well. The damsel-in-distress role has been abandoned. Leading ladies are no longer a victim of, but seek to defeat the antagonist at its source. Case in point: SVU’s hard-hitting but compassionate detective, Olivia Benson. Like all of us, she’s fierce, flawed, passionate, resilient…authentic. Even more endearing, the actress who portrays her is equally incredible.

mariska-1
Try looking this flawless while chasing down an assailant in a dark alley. I would look like a ‘70s Yoko Ono with her foot caught in a bear trap.

I hold a tremendous amount of respect for Mariska Hargitay not only as an actress, but a role model. Many of her personal strengths run parallel with her character on SVU. Here are just a few reasons why she, like Olivia Benson, is a powerhouse.

She demands respect.
There’s no doubt Hargitay and her character on SVU are flat-out gorgeous, but both are distinguished for their resilient courage and intelligence, first and foremost.

It’s a shining example for other women to admire: Don’t mistake attention for respect. Be comfortable and confident in your own skin. Let the power of your convictions and actions take precedence.

Attention comes easily and wanes quickly, but respect is earned, intentional, and leaves behind a lasting legacy.

She has two adopted children.
This subject makes my face sloppy with happy tears. It resonates with me, because I’m also adopted.

It requires a special place in a family’s heart to adopt a child—it’s a chosen path marked with challenges, but are eclipsed by tremendous love and joy.

Mariska and her husband have a biological son, August, and two children, Amaya Josephine and Andrew Nicolas, who were adopted less than six months apart.

Raising a young son and two babies at once can be a huge challenge, but in an interview with People Magazine, Mariska states, “We never in a million years thought it would happen this quickly, but something inside of us knew that this was right, and we said, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’”

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Oh. Here come the sloppy-happy tears…

She’s an advocate.
After starring in a show that’s portrayed countless stories of sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence for over thirteen years, one would either lose hope, or help others find it.

Fortunately, Mariska Hargitay established The Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004. The organization helps women, men, and children who have survived horrific abuse find hope and healing. I can’t express how amazing I think this project is. Please take the time to review their site and help them empower those who need help to take a stand and find a voice.

Additionally, Mariska’s deep sense of love and advocacy for real-life victims of sexual abuse is present in every episode. Olivia Benson wears a gold charm with the word “Fearlessness” engraved on it. It was created specifically for her and The Joyful Heart Foundation by Me&Ro.

I’m so grateful to witness mighty women in this world carry convictions from their careers into their personal lives. Thank you, Mariska Hargitay, for being a beautiful fighter.

May we all learn to live a life of love and Fearlessness!

Sarah is a creative manager by career, a designer + artist at heart. She's a freelance writer for Hello Giggles, Media Foam and The Conversation. A refined bohemian soul, she's a lover of classic literature and has a penchant for men who play the banjo, handwritten notes and hipster bands. Her specialty is throwing the ethnic curve. You can follow her posts on Twitter @boldface.

Comments

  • Susan

    I’m a huge fan of both Mariska H and Olivia B as well. I think they both represent the best that women can aspire to in life-to be their own saviors, as that song by Adele suggests but also to empowering role models for young women and girls.Benson is the quintessential mother figure, a lioness,protecting every woman and child in distress. Mariska has a lot to live up with this role, and she does so admirably.

    • Love how you described her as a ‘lioness,’ Susan! I also whole-heartedly agree that both are powerful role models!

  • I love a bit of Law and Order and like you, I seem to have taken on some of the language – perps being one of my favorites.

    However, I’m going to disagree about Olivia (Absolutely adore Mariska, have you seen her true hollywood story??). I find Olivia judgemental and pretty harsh – especially when it comes to men – who as we know aren’t ALL bad guys.

    But then that’s probably a good thing, that she’s not some one dimensional character that everyone feels the same about.

    • Rachael, I totally agree with your observations on Olivia! She’s been abused and has built these impenetrable walls around herself. Maybe that’s why I find the character so intriguing–she’s flawed and struggles with issues like the rest of us.

      Oh, and YES! Mariska’s real-life story is amazing to me.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts along with our unnecessary use of police jargon. 🙂

  • Anne

    I am an ardent fan. Not only the Mariska. But also of Olivia Benson. Olivia is highly professional. But also sweet, soft, feminine when necessary. She believes in what he does and fight hard in defense of victims. And I disagree with those who say that Olivia seems to be too hard on men. Now look: in 90% of rape cases men are the culprits. Men are always the rapists, pedophiles, the rapists. Olivia lives with it daily. It is impossible not absorb this stigma. It is men who rape women. They always are. Olivia is always on the side of truth. Matter who it hurts.

    As for Mariska I really love. She is a celebrity differentiated by their humility, simplicity and authenticity. She is so pretty, but always gives me the impression that it is not very worried about it. A few days ago I read a quote that reminded me of it: “The more we move away from our ego, but we approach God. She must be very close.

    • Anne, I adore what you said about her beauty! It’s effortless because I think it’s genuine and comes from deep within. Thanks for sharing your love for Mariska!

  • Anne

    I am an ardent fan. Not only the Mariska. But also of Olivia Benson. Olivia is highly professional. But also sweet, soft, feminine when necessary. She believes in what he does and fight hard in defense of victims. And I disagree with those who say that Olivia seems to be too hard on men. Now look: in 90% of rape cases men are the culprits. Men are always the rapists, pedophiles, the rapists. Olivia lives with it daily. It is impossible not absorb this stigma. It is men who rape women. They always are. Olivia is always on the side of truth. Matter who it hurts.

    As for Mariska I really love. She is a celebrity differentiated by their humility, simplicity and authenticity. She is so pretty, but always gives me the impression that it is not very worried about it. A few days ago I read a quote that reminded me of it: “The more we move away from our ego, but we approach God. She must be very close.

  • I laughed because I had just watched Workaholics last night and her name was mentioned a few times in the episode and it was funny to come across her name again here right afterward. I have to agree with you, she is an inspiring woman and very worthy of admiration. Great post Sarah!

    • Oh, man. I love Workaholics. I’ll have to track down that epi!

  • AshHoney102

    Absolutely beautiful article on Marish Sarah – thank you! 🙂

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