Ok, I know, this movie is about a fashion magazine and therefore technically has got NOTHING to do with the energy industry. Or does it?
Today I’ve decided to break down and analyze “The Devil Wears Prada” directed by David Frankel, which I admit I have lost count just how many times I’ve rewatched this over the years.
I’ve however decided to take a different approach by rather looking at the leading characters and picking apart character traits that I admire and loathe and how they could possibly relate to my professional life even though the industry differs.
Let’s start with her Majesty in all her couture glamour Miss Miranda Priestly.
As a girl, I misunderstood this character when I first watched this movie, I, like countless others mislabeled her as evil among other unflattering adjectives.
Now as a woman, I realize that Miranda is just a perfectionist who is confident because she is damn good at her job and requires the same standards she has set for herself in those that work around her.
The following are the main traits that I picked up from Miranda and that I plan to work towards cultivating within myself:
Choose an industry. Perfect it!
The main message in the first quarter of the movie is that the protagonist Andy although having not been her first choice still decided to go for an interview at Runway knowing fully well that the job was at a major Fashion magazine, however, what annoys Miranda is that she doesn’t see any effort on Andy’s part to show that she is trying to learn about the industry and play an active role in trying to belong.
In my own personal life, I took this one as a major career lesson moving forward. Miranda herself although multifaceted chose to work in the fashion industry, perfected her knowledge and eye for fashion, and through her work etched herself as an internationally recognized and respected voice in fashion.
To me, this means always being hungry for knowledge by not only perfecting what I know but taking the effort to push outwards to subjects that I don’t know; working towards learning all the different screws and bolts that make up the sustainable energy industry. It was a good slap in the face to stop being complacent and to be more hardworking in striving to perfect my skills in order to etch my place in the corporate world.
Be confident. Speak up.
Miranda is one bad mamma jamma who is very confident in what she wants and unafraid to voice her unedited opinion.
Although we do get to see some vulnerable moments from her, for the most part, Miranda exudes this sense of knowing who she is which I feel ties into my first point. I think that sort of confidence comes from accomplishing major feats through your own hard work, dedication, and experience.
Her character reminded me of the importance for women to especially be confident in themselves and their opinions, for them to be unafraid to raise their voice if they don’t agree with something and to know how to stand up for themselves.
Sorry but looks do matter whether you work for a fashion magazine, energy company, bank, or as a street vendor. Miranda always looked her best. ALWAYS. I think this added to the respect people had for her and set a standard where even her employees wanted to emulate that.
You don’t have to look like you just walked off a Karl Lagerfeld runway but especially in a corporate setting how you present yourself can set a precedence on how people perceive you and whether or not they decide to listen to what you have to say.
Does it suck? yes but that’s life, humans are primal beings that rely on our visionary sensors to get a first impression of the people we meet and this is evermore true at work. I believe we initially judge people according to how they look but how we continue to perceive them after that should not be solely based on that.
Looking your best adds a flare of confidence to yourself, you just have to define what that means to you and run with that.
Set your standards. Stick to them.
It’s clear that Miranda has set high standards not only for herself but for the magazine, the standards she wants her employees to operate, and the standard to which she provides to her children.
She never wavers from those standards, in fact, she seems to continue raising that bar no matter how ludicrously high it gets.
This is a good trait to have both professionally and personally. Having a set of reasonable standards for yourself and boundaries for others helps you to identify when either you or someone else is crossing a boundary. Being consistent with these standards makes people respect them more.
Know when to speak.
I know I just wrote about the importance of speaking up but if you really look at it, Miranda was a woman of few words, and when she did speak there was a purpose to it. She also seemed thoroughly annoyed when someone would talk with no point or bombard her with questions that she believed the individual could find out themselves.
It’s ok to just keep quiet and observe and only open your mouth when you have semi-analyzed what you want to say. Also making sure that if you are asking a question to be sure it’s concise and relevant.
The following are the bad traits that I picked up from Miranda. These are the the traits that I don’t want to cultivate:
Her vicious words and backstabbing
Although I admire how confident Miranda was with how she expressed herself it’s still no excuse for how she addressed people in her life especially her employees.
Being assertive can be done in a classy way without dehumanising the person you are talking to.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I admired how she managed to find a way to dodge a bullet that threatened her place at Runway but the fact that she was comfortable enough to backstab Nigel in the process didn’t sit well with me. However come to think of it what drives Miranda isn’t to make friends, it’s to exceed at her job which defines her, and therefore with that being her guiding principle, it wouldn’t matter what she did because that’s just business. I beg the question that if it was a man would my feelings be biasedly different.
The titanium wall blocking her emotions
This is a trait I relate to and see within myself. A lot. Miranda seems to have a titanium wall that blocks her from truly being free in expressing her emotions. I understand this as being open requires one to be vulnerable and vulnerability is yucky because it opens you up to being hurt.
That being said although I don’t condone letting go of this trait completely as I feel that it can protect you from people with bad intentions, it’s important to notice and be free around a select few who allow a safe unbiased space.
She does have one moment in the movie where she subtly breaks down in front of Andy but even then it’s reserved and she moves on from it immediately after. It might not be healthy to hold onto emotions just so that you seem always put together.
I was contemplating adding the fact that she doesn’t seem to have a proper work-life balance but I’m not entirely sure about that because even though she made her choice to kill it in her workspace under all that pressure she still seemed to cater to her children and even factor in her husband however best she could, maybe if the movie expanded on that part of her life more I would have more to say.
As to her marriages failing I don’t think its because she isn’t trying I mean all those men must’ve known what they were getting into when they courted her I just think they couldn’t handle how she didn’t make them her whole world.
It was a great nostalgic moment re-watching this movie and I have taken away some productive traits that I will apply to my own life and see whether they fit and become values I define myself with.
In the next post, I will be breaking down the protagonist Andrea Sachs and what I learnt from her. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly!
Till next time.
Never forget to carpe all the diems.