Mindy KalingPhoto via Shaileyann on Etsy

I adore nearly everything about Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project – the highly quotable dialogue, Mindy’s flawless wardrobe, the beautiful shots of New York City, and of course, the insanely handsome Danny Castellano.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a latecomer to the show; I didn’t start watching until last summer, nearly two years after its debut on FOX. I first started watching the show on a whim after running out of episodes of my guilty pleasure at the time, America’s Next Top Model. My expectations were pretty low for Mindy; I made the assumption that it would be just another guilty pleasure that I sort of loved but mostly hated.

I made the assumption that Mindy was just another vapid sitcom because of the clips I had seen, showing that the protagonist, Dr. Mindy Lahiri, was similar to Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling’s character on The Office); she appeared ditzy, boy crazy, and obsessed with pop culture. No way could Dr. Mindy Lahiri be as powerful as Olivia Pope in Scandal or as comedic as Ilana and Abbi of Broad City if she openly aspires to be the next Kim Kardashian.

I was being stupid, I know. I’ve learned a thing or two since then, thanks in part to The Mindy Project.

The first lesson I picked up on was this: dress how you want to dress, regardless of your body type. Having pride in your appearance has very little (read: nothing) to do with your size. Just because you’re on the chubby side doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to take part in the newest trends and wear outfits that make you happy.

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The Mindy Project | GenTwenty

I used to feel like certain types of clothing weren’t made for me (with my bubble butt, I had completely written off pencil skirts and fitted dresses forever), but Mindy knows what she likes and she proudly rocks it. In fact, we have similar body types and I like to check out The Mindy Project on Worn on TV to find out what she’s wearing in each episode. I have yet to find anything affordable, but a girl can dream.

Mindi Lahiri is probably (scratch that — definitely) the first TV character I have ever identified so strongly with when it comes to fashion. And yes, she showed me that it is perfectly acceptable to wear a pencil skirt even with a prominent derriere.

Secondly, Mindy teaches us that we are allowed to speak up at work. Studies show that ladies tend to keep their opinions to themselves at work, especially in the company of men. I can attest to seeing examples of this in my own workplace and even in classes while I was in college. But Mindy is no milquetoast – she will gladly raise her voice and share her opinions. She works in a male-dominated office and is not threatened by anyone. Mindy is a great role model for professional women everywhere.

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Mindy also teaches us how important it is to be honest with other people. Not only does she speak up in her office, she is the living definition of “blunt”. She will tell you when your outfit needs help or when your holiday party sounds like a snooze fest. Of course, we aren’t all living in Dr. Lahiri’s fictional world of comedy and we may need to display a certain level of tact when approaching a difficult conversation, but the lesson stands. Honesty is worth its weight in gold.

Being honest with other people isn’t enough, though. Mindy also shows that it’s important to be honest with yourself. If she’s hungry for McDonald’s, she’s going to eat McDonald’s. On the other hand, if she needs a workout, she will begrudgingly do a workout. And most importantly, if she knows it’s best to leave a fantastic relationship to chase a new dream in a new city, she’s buying the plane ticket right away. She knows what’s best for her and she doesn’t hesitate to go for it.

The Mindy Project | GenTwenty

My favorite lesson from Mindy — and perhaps the one I needed to learn the most — is that girly is not synonymous with vacuous. Mindy Lahiri is an avid believer in retail therapy, she adores Nicki Minaj, and will wear a dress covered in sequins without a hint of irony. She is also a successful doctor and a powerful woman who demands respect from her peers.

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For the longest time, I had a number of “guilty pleasures” that I was afraid to openly admit to. I live for the music of Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift. The color pink makes me giddy. I love curling up with an issue of Cosmo. But because of the idea that pop music and stereotypically “girly” things are superficial, I was afraid that enjoying them meant I wasn’t intelligent or worthy of respect. Mindy turns that idea on its head by celebrating it all — so-called “girly” things, professionalism, and intelligent women — in each 23-minute episode.

Based on my initial judgements, I thought The Mindy Project would be full of nothing but mindless drivel (I’m so sorry, Mindy Kaling!), but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Mindy Project isn’t a guilty pleasure (and neither is America’s Next Top Model, for that matter), because what is there to feel guilty about? It’s simply a pleasure, and one that I will blithely flaunt.