Run, don’t walk, to see The Blind Side. Quick, before it leaves the theaters! I recommend this movie not because it’s an inspiring story about a young inner-city black man who makes a life for himself through determination and hard work, although it’s that. And not because it’s a heartwarming story about the kindness of a family who helps someone less fortunate, although it’s that too.
No, I loved The Blind Side because it is a story about a woman of courage and authenticity, a woman who does the right thing, no matter the cost. Leigh Anne Tuohy is my new hero, and this movie is about her.
It’s not popular to do the right thing. It is popular to succeed, which is not the same thing. When she takes a homeless 17-year old boy into her well-appointed home and her organized, highly accomplished life, Leigh Anne hardly considers the cost or the risk. She does it because it’s the right thing.
The beauty of the story is that Michael Oher, the adoptive son, does ultimately achieve success in the eyes of the world as a first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens. But this success comes only after the sacrifices made by Leigh Anne and the Tuohy family—losing friends, suffering ridicule and judgment, spending money, and more.
Most importantly, Leigh Anne does the right thing for Michael, which, more than anything, means standing up to people. She stands up to the football coach, the teachers, the heckler at the football game, the drug lord in the projects. She even stands up to her friends, going so far as to walk out of their luncheon, and, presumably, out of their lives.
We saw this movie as a family, with our sixth-grade daughter and third-grade son (and though it’s rated PG-13 I found it to be OK for those ages). In the car on the way home we asked the kids what they learned from it. Our son piped up, talking about the value of hard work and being true to yourself, and how if something bad happens in your past don’t let it affect your future. Great stuff. Our daughter thoughtfully replied “I like how the mom was really assertive, but not mean. She got her way but she didn’t hurt other people.”
Leigh Anne is tough as nails, takes no prisoners and has a heart of gold. (Sandra Bullock, who plays her in the movie, says she was scared of her, and scared to play her.) At one point Leigh Anne asks her husband: “Am I a bad person? Why do I do what I do?” He answers that she is a good person who sacrifices herself for others. I say she is a good person because she does the right thing. What a different place this world would be if each of us would resolve to be courageous and authentic, and to do the right thing.
Stacy Pena is a working mom who is on the board of Girls Leadership Institute. She also blogs for Silicon Valley Moms Blog.