For Mindy Kaling, being a feminist is so much more than just being bold and brash. She leads the way in the women’s equality movement with her unabashed challenging of gender stereotypes, her momentous hard work, and her ability to shutdown well-intentioned microaggressions with a forceful grace.
In her book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Kaling writes, “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?”
And she’s right.
There are so many reasons to be thankful for a role model like Kaling.
Not only is she vocal about being a feminist, she also write, produces, directs, and stars in her hit tv shows, The Mindy Project and Champions. She’s also the star of some major, women-packed blockbusters such as A Wrinkle in Time and Oceans 8.
She’s also known for being a proponent of “feminine feminism.”
“A lot of people,” said Kaling at the 2016 Watermark Conference for Women, “…sometimes think that you can’t be interested in things like fashion or things that are traditionally feminine and also be a strong woman…because that means you are doing that for a man…I wish that we didn’t inextricably link being interested in those things and being a strong woman.”
Kaling teaches us that strong women don’t have to fit into any boxes. They don’t have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and we are all capable of being empowered feminists while still enjoying traditionally feminine hobbies such as fashion, cooking, cosmetics, and more.
Perhaps even more importantly, Kaling pushes the fact that we shouldn’t be amazed when women hold traditionally male jobs.
In 2014, Kaling told Marie Claire’s Anne Fulenwider, “You shouldn’t be applauding the women writers on my staff, that should just be the way it is…You can get hung up and say [you’re] the victim, or you can be in charge of the situation.”
What she is pushing is equality, not sympathy – and that is the root of what feminism is. Kaling is teaching the world to teach by example…by setting an example.