I am constantly and consistently inspired by amazing, beautiful, strong women who are doing incredible things everyday. Whether it’s changing history to confidently wearing a bikini for the first time. I can’t get enough. I try to absorb their amazingness each and every day and put it to good, noble, creative use. Sometimes I fail, get self conscious or down on myself, and I need another dose of inspiring stories to rouse me back to action.
A lot of the time, I can just log onto Facebook and hear from my lovely lady friends. But I still love reading and rereading the stories of my favorite historical female icons.
So, for your Saturday, here’s a list of some badass women to help inspire us to be strong and capable and badass in general.
1. Audrey Hepburn
The woman who put a face to Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is more than just a glamorous dress and diamonds. Not only did this gorgeous and talented woman survive German occupation of her home in the Netherlands, but she immigrated to America and became one of the most iconic faces of the silver screen.
The first movie I think I ever saw her in was Sabrina, and the way she executed all of her roles with such depth and sincerity made me fall in love with her even before I became completely obsessed with Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Later in her life, after retiring from Hollywood, Hepburn worked tirelessly as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, where she visited orphanages and helped establish clean water programs across the world.
Not only was strong as well as classy and chic, she was a person who cared deeply about the important things in life, and worked hard to make sure she did everything in her power to make the world a little bit better.
“Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicisation of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanitisation of politics.” — Hepburn
2. Sylvia Plath
People always seem to give me a funny look when I say that my favorite book is “The Bell Jar.” Although, those with similar experiences to mine, absolutely understand why it’s a favorite for so many. I first read it when I was 16, towards the end of my sophomore year in high school when I was really trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted to do and where I wanted my life to go.
And a lot of things had been going wrong lately. So reading a book that showed me that when everything seems to be turned against you, you can find a way out. You can make things better, and it will all be okay. I even got a tattoo of part of the quote below, to remind myself of this.
I loved Plath’s poetry as well, when we read some of it in class earlier that year. She had such a deep sense of life and the role our actions and emotions play in the greater scheme of things. And she had such a wonderful way of conveying emotion without having to spell it out. My writing is so inspired by her and I wish she could have lived to see how her writing has helped so many people. I only hope mine can do the same.
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” — Plath
3. Frida Kahlo
No list of badass women would be complete without the lovely Frida. When I first heard her story in a high school art history class, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I felt a deep and sudden kinship with this woman who had overcome so much adversity and still managed to create art.
Kahlo’s life hit a rather large bump early on when she was involved in a horrible bus accident in which a rod ran through her hips, causing irreparable damage to her entire body, and especially her spine. While bedridden for months on end, she turned to painting and became one of the most revered modern-surrealist painters of all time. Although, she never called her painting surrealism, it was simply the reality of her life.
Like Plath, Kahlo had a unique way of portraying messages and emotion with such finesse that the viewer can’t help but be moved. I think of her every time I face any kind of adversity. And I think, if she could get through everything, so can I.
“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.” — Kahlo
4. Malala Yousafzai
Not many teenagers have such a deep understanding of right and wrong, never mind the drive to change the wrong and make it right. But, Malala is not most teenagers.
I don’t think, even when I was young and naive, I ever loved school and learning as much as she does. But that is the very thing that kept driving Malala to fight domestic terrorists of her home country of Pakistan when they threatened to take it away from her.
Yousafzai has survived so much, including being shot for her beliefs, and she’s still going, still campaigning, still standing up for what she believes in. I read her memoir, I Am Malala, last year and I can’t tell you how moving it was. I truly believe we all need to give it at least one read-through because it is such an important story to know given the current state of our world. We must hear her story, if for no other reason than empowering us to fight for what we feel must change in our lives.
“I said to myself, Malala, you must be brave. You must not be afraid of anyone. You are only trying to get an education. You are not committing a crime.” — Yousafzai
5. Nellie Bly
If you don’t think traveling around the world in 72 days to prove a point, or going undercover in an asylum to unearth wrongdoing, or raging against misogyny through editorial columns, don’t a badass make, there’s something seriously wrong.
I learned about Bly in high school and was immediately struck by this woman who would risk her mental, physical and emotional health to expose the horrors of a The Woman’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. And this was in the 1880s, no less. You have to be a certain kind of person, and a certain kind of journalist to even be willing to go to those lengths for your story. And I want to be that person so badly.
Not only did she survive the experience, but her writing helped a grand jury initiate major reform for the treatment of mental illness.
In my journalistic endeavors, I strive to honor her legacy and live up to her standards.
“Could I pass a week in the insane asylum at Blackwell’s Island? I sad I would and I did.” — Bly
I was going to make this post longer, but I’ve been babbling in my praise, so expect more installments of this in the future!
Who are your heroes? Who are the badass women in your life? How do they influence your life? Let’s talk.