If we learned anything in the year since our last open birthday card to Mindy Kaling, it's never to claim "truer words were never spoken" when talking about this woman. By the next week, she'll have said something equally incisive and hilarious.
Kaling perfectly articulates well-documented annoyances and hilariously identifies new ones in any medium she works on or creates for herself. From her hit TV show "The Mindy Project," to insider industry events, to Instagram, she always nails it.
In honor of Mindy Kaling's 35th birthday on June 24, here are 12 things the actress taught us this year. If "another year older" truly means "another year wiser," we have a lot to look forward to.
1. Being above a size 2 doesn't mean you don't care about the way you look.
In a March appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kaling debunked the bizarre idea that average-sized women just don't give a damn. "I am the recipient of a lot of backhanded compliments about it, where people are like, ‘It’s so nice that Mindy Kaling doesn’t feel she needs to subscribe to the ideals of beauty that other people do,’" she told Kimmel. "And I’m like, ‘I do subscribe!’ They’re like, ‘It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels comfortable to let herself go and be a fat sea monster. By the way, I run and work out. It takes a lot of effort to look like a normal/chubby woman." Ain't that the truth.
2. And it definitely doesn't mean you shouldn't feel good about yourself.
In a interview with Parade magazine last September, Kaling called out those who seem to think women must overcome some tremendous hurdle in order feel confident:
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?"
3. Crop tops are not badges of courage. They're just crop tops.
In her March interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Kaling poked fun at the tendency to valorize not-super-skinny women oh-so-brave enough to show some midriff on TV. After Kaling wore a crop top to an event, "Some people were like, ‘She’s just so courageous!’" she told Kimmel. "Aren’t surgeons courageous?”
4. Healthy women do not exist to "refresh" a waif-weary media.
During The Hollywood Reporter's comedy actresses roundtable this month, Kaling summed up years of backhanded compliments from the press: "You're ugly and fat, and that is so refreshing to us. I'm like, 'What are you saying to me, sir? That's not a question, sir,'" she (barely) joked. Emmy Rossum, also at the roundtable, channelled our collective internal reaction perfectly: "You're gorgeous, so I don't know what the f**ck they're talking about," she said.
5. "Not wanting to be skinny" is great, but it shouldn't be that extraordinary.
The Internet delighted in Kaling's March remarks to Vogue, in which she -- with unwitting bravery -- dismissed thinness as a personal goal. "I don’t want to be skinny. I’m constantly in a state of self-improvement, but I don’t beat myself up over it,” she told the fashion mag. We loved the sentiment, but Kaling reminded us that not wanting to very thin doesn't earn anyone a Nobel Peace Prize. “People were like, ‘That’s so great that you said it,’ and I didn’t think that was so weird," Kaling told Jimmy Kimmel later that month. "Every woman I know feels that way."
6. Women can decide for themselves when they feel beautiful.
When Elle's "Women In Television" edition featured four different women on four differents covers, only Kaling appeared in a black and white closeup shot, while the others had colorful, full-body covers. How could they hide Kaling's normal-sized body and neutralize her skin color? As far as Kaling herself is concerned, the picture was hot. "I love my @ELLEmagazine cover. It made me feel glamorous & cool. And if anyone wants to see more of my body, go on thirteen dates with me," she tweeted.
7. You don't have to be a teenager to think kissing is really fun.
"The problem with kissing, when you're older than 16, [is] you can't kiss a guy for like two hours, which is what I would want to do, because at a certain point, they're like, 'What is this leading to?'" Kaling said on "Chelsea Lately" in August. "And I'm like, 'That's it!'... I could kiss a guy for 90 minutes and be like, 'That was great!'" We hear you, girl.
8. Sometimes we all need a little stress management.
how do u balance job and personal and sleep and woman and female and race and culture and politics and funny and not funny and men and boys and body image and weight and stuff? Lil vodka straight from the bottle!
9. Women are writing brilliant, hilarious and important roles for themselves -- but it's kind of bullshit that no one else is. “Ultimately I’m very happy with the way it worked out, but I don’t think it’s my first choice for every role I do to have to write it," Kaling told Entertainment Weekly in August. "I guess I could play the lame, nagging friend of the beautiful white protagonist, but I’m neither going to have as much fun nor make as much money doing that." She's our "lean in" hero.
10. It's important to discuss gender and race thoughtfully, while recognizing biases that require us to.
Kaling has consistently called out a media double-standard that insists women only talk about being women. "There are little Indian girls out there who look up to me, and I never want to belittle the honor of being an inspiration to them," she Kaling told Parade in September. "But while I'm talking about why I'm so different, white male show runners get to talk about their art."
11. There's plenty of room at the top -- and the women who make it there love to celebrate one another.
In discussion with "The Mindy Project" co-stars and writers at the SXSW conference, Kaling delivered some real talk on Hollywood's insistence on comparing women. "You don't hear, ‘Is Will Ferrell too Steve Carell-y? Is Danny McBride too Aziz-like?' There's this mentality that there can only be one woman who is funny and running her own show and if there are more than that, you must hate each other. And, no, it's like, I wish you could see them more."
12. She's "a f**king Indian woman with a f**king network television show." Questions, anyone?
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