Brush Up on the Life Lessons from “Hairspray”

Baltimore.  1962.  Tracy Turnblad sings and dances her heart out to land a spot on the Corny Collins Show, and in the process, teaches us some life lessons we can continue to embrace.

Dream Big

Corny Collins: I’d like to welcome our new council member, Miss Tracy Turnblad! Tracy, cozy up to ol’ Corny and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tracy Turnblad: Well, I watch the Corny Collins show every day and I do nothing else!

Corny Collins: Oh!

Tracy Turnblad: I also hope to be the first female president… or a Rockette!

  • Size doesn’t matter. If you have a dream, the only limits are self-imposed.  Just go for it.  And go for it with zeal, enthusiastic joy, and a positive, can-do attitude.  Tracy knew it wasn’t about what she looked like, but about the passion in her heart!  If you believe it, big things can happen!  Even bigger than your wildest imagination!

Don’t Let Others Discourage You

Edna Turnblad: Well, I had a dream that I would own a coin-operated laundromat, but I came down from that cloud real quickly!

  • Tracy could have wallowed in self-pity from the unfair treatment she received from the show’s producer, Velma Von Tussle and her snooty daughter, Amber. But clearly, Tracy embraced the adage, “What others think of me is not my opinion.”  She didn’t let their disdain diminish her joy.  It’s easy to let someone else’s bad mood or negative attitude affect our day, but it takes a great strength of character to rise above it.

Heart Matters More Than Looks

Link Larkin: Sorry, little darlin’. Hope I didn’t dent your ‘do.

  • Tracy was crazy about Link Larkin and, let’s face it – he was gorgeous. But while she has a major crush on him, the moment she saw a less-than-stellar side, she backed off.  She was more interested in an attractive heart than she was a handsome face.  Thankfully (spoiler alert!), Link redeemed himself in her eyes.

Look for the Best in Everyone

Tracy Turnblad: [singing] Oh, oh, oh, woke up today, feeling the way I always do. Oh, oh, oh, hungry for something that I can’t eat. Then I hear that beat. That rhythm of town starts calling me down. It’s like a message from high above. Oh, oh, oh, pulling me out to the smiles and the streets that I love. Good morning, Baltimore!

  • Besides Tracy’s joy for life, she made a point to go out of her way to look for the good in people. Just as she saw past Link’s pretty face, Tracy wasn’t concerned about the color of anyone’s skin or what others thought.  She assumed the best and looked for the best in everyone she met.  (Though she wasn’t oblivious to Mrs. Von Tussle or Amber!)

Don’t Be Afraid of People Who are Different

Tracy Turnblad: People who are different, their time is coming!

  • Racial tensions were high in 1962, and unfortunately, racism still exists. But just as Tracy showed us that heart was far more important than a pretty face, she also taught us not to fear those who are different.  Different isn’t bad.  It’s just different.

Choose What is Right Over What is Easy

Tracy Turnblad: I think I’ve kind of been in a bubble… thinking that fairness was gonna’ just happen. It’s not. People like me are gonna’ have to get up off their fathers’ laps and go out and fight for it.

  • Choosing right over what is easy is yet another demonstration of Tracy’s great character.Her dreams mattered, but no more so than the dreams of others.  She knew she couldn’t fully enjoy her dreams when others couldn’t pursue theirs.

Hairspray is a fun, catchy musical with tons of heart and soul, and a heaping helping of life lessons thrown in for good measure.



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