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Lessons I’ve Learned from Steel Magnolias

There are only a handful of films that have left an indelible impression on me. Steel Magnolias happens to be one of them. I remember watching this film quite frequently as a child. Some people may be surprised that I could handle such adult themes at such a young age. In fact, I managed to repeatedly watch the entire film without being overwhelmed with emotion. Perhaps it was the actresses’ comedic timing that kept me from breaking out in tears. But of course, it wasn’t until I became an adult that I was able to fully comprehend the lessons in this film.


Steel Magnolias tells the story of an overprotective mother, M’Lynn, who always feels that she knows what’s best for her daughter, Shelby. Though she’s a diabetic, Shelby goes against her mother’s wishes and becomes pregnant with her first and only child. Despite their differences, both Shelby and her mother love each other immensely.


I realized growing up that mothers make many sacrifices to meet their children’s needs without expecting anything in return. Like M’Lynn, my mother has demonstrated great strength in times of adversity. She never ceased loving me because of the choices I’ve made. I have come to understand why she worries so much when I travel alone at night or forget to return her call. She has proved to me that a mother’s love for her child is never-ending.


In addition to M’Lynn and Shelby, the film also features several generations of women who form a remarkable bond. In the years of knowing each other, they grow in friendship and love. They attend various events together, and candidly speak with one another about anything and everything. I love how these women are imperfect, vulnerable, and compassionate. Their witty commentary always seems to release any tension between them. Not even a cynic like Ouiser can destroy their friendship.


One of the more notable scenes in the film is the emotional outburst by M’Lynn after Shelby’s funeral. M’Lynn’s friends listen as M’Lynn tearfully asks the question that most people ask themselves when they’ve experienced a loss—”Why?” As M’Lynn expresses her heartbreak, Truvy lightens the mood with a hilarious jab at Ouiser. In the midst of her pain, M’Lynn is able to break a smile. She is surrounded by friends who genuinely love her.


Once you experience those inevitable trials in life, you will soon learn who your true friends are. It is often easy for people, including myself, to conceal our emotions during a tough time. We quietly face many storms without revealing our feelings to others. But you can’t escape your true friends. They won’t take no for an answer. They’ll be there for you when you least expect them to.


We can all learn valuable lessons from this classic film. The authenticity of the story will make you reflect on your own life. You’ll come to know that you can overcome any obstacles with a lot of laughter and love from others. The lessons taught in Steel Magnolias can help us all to move forward when times get hard.

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