The fourth annual, fan-led, #MariskasBirthdaySpiritWeek kicks off this Tuesday, January 16, to raise money for the actress/activist Mariska Hargitay’s non-profit organization, The Joyful Heart Foundation. The organization, founded in 2004, works to “change society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing and end this violence forever.” Each year fans inspired by Hargitay’s work, and message of hope and healing, take to social media for a themed week before her birthday to spread awareness, share the love, and raise money to support her cause. In the wake of Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, and the recently launched “Time’s Up” movement, this kind of campaigning at the grassroots level is just what we need–in the words of General Leia Organa: “To be the spark that will light the fire that will bring this old order down.”
Spirit Week was started in 2015 by an incredibly inspirational young woman named Safia — known well on Instagram as @therealjoyfullaughter. Safia has coordinated with donors to make it possible for those who can’t afford to donate to participate by making each of their posts, using the hashtag with the coordinating day’s theme, worth fifty cents, which is donated by contributors on their behalf. The ultimate goal for the eight days — the full themed week, plus Mariska’s actual birthday the following Tuesday — being $1,000. They were successfully able to raise over $3,000 last year, and we are here to help spread awareness and boost those numbers. For details on each day’s theme we reached out to Safia, who was more than happy to help us participate and share her goals:
“We usually only do a standard 7 days but this year Mariska’s birthday is on a Tuesday and one of my favorite themed days is ‘Teach me the Mariska Tuesday’ and we don’t want it to clash with her birthday.
The breakdown of the themed days:
1.Teach me the Mariska Tuesday: I created a remix to the song “Teach Me How to Dougie,” but made it Mariska themed. The idea was for everyone to do the Mariska, which is a dance I created to go along with the song. I got the moves from things we’ve seen Mariska do frequently. Mariska has a beautiful head of hair and she is the queen of the hair flip. She also loves to throw her thumb up with approval or excitement. Lastly, she went through a jazz hands phase and the fandom went wild naming it her signature move. The idea is to imitate Mariska, but be yourself…with just a dash of Hargitay. The fact that we have a lot of shy people that may be afraid to do the dance, I made it so that people could post pictures or videos of Mariska doing her signature moves. #teachmethemariskatuesday
2. Bad Ass Benson Wednesday: This day is dedicated to everyone’s favorite bad ass, Olivia Benson. Post pictures and videos of your favorite bad ass Benson moments. We love Mariska the person, but Olivia the character also holds a special place in our hearts. #badassbensonwednesday
3. That Hargismile Thursday: This day is basically a day to post pictures of Mariska’s beautiful smile. I mean who doesn’t love a great smile? That’s exactly what she has. This day is awesome and creates a sort of euphoria because smiling is contagious. It inspires joy. This day was a back-up because again people were to shy or did not want to dress up like Mariska or recreate photos of her. #thathargismilethursday
That Freaky Twin Thing Thursday: This was the original Thursday plan and I still have a vote out on it. Early in my fandom days I used to create twin pictures of myself and Mariska, people seemed to like it, so I thought it’d be fun to do with the fandom. #thatfreakytwinthingthursday
4. Fabulous Hargifashion Friday: Let’s face it, Mariska has worn some amazing things over the years. She has caused many of jaws to drop. So, this day we just want to remind everyone that Mariska can slay a look effortlessly, whether it be red carpet or just attending a tennis match or Hamilton for the 30th time. #fabuloushargifashionfriday
5. Share Your Joyful Heart Saturday: This day is all about the Joyful Heart Foundation. Whether you decide to bake a cake with the logo or where a t-shirt or draw a picture. You’re even welcomed to share how the Joyful Heart Foundation has impacted your life. We have this wonderful foundation because of Mariska and so it’s befitting that we recognize it during her spirit week. #shareyourjoyfulheartsaturday
6. Speak Up, Speak Out Sunday: This day was originally created to support the NO MORE movement. No More Excuses, No More Silence, No More Violence. This year we’re going to add in the Joyful Heart Foundation’s initiative to END THE BACKLOG (Of untested rape kits—endthebacklog.org). The more of us talking about it the harder it is to avoid. We’re louder together. #speakupspeakoutsunday
7. Mix Match Mariska Monday: This day was meant to just mix it up. Wear mix match socks just a fun silly thing to do. Doesn’t really have anything to do with Mariska but it’s fun and silly. People are shy with this as well, so I said they could find a way to make it work with Mariska. #mixmatchmariskamonday
This kind of awareness campaign is great because it is fun, it honors leaders, creates ways for others to participate, and it helps others on their paths towards hope and healing. Check it out on Instagram starting this Tuesday, and if you’d like to participate, you know the hashtags (remember to include the #mariskasbirthdayspiritweek in each post also). You can also donate, in honor of spirit week, directly at the joyfulheartfoundation.org. We can all be a spark.