January 14th, 2013

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.

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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!

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