I love women. All women. So let me assure you of the difficulty of narrowing down this list when I could make a top 100 list of every different shade of woman (Top 50 Latina Women Who Live in Venice and Like Braiding their Hair). Just know that there are a million other women that could be on this list.
Last night, I sat curled up on the couch watching Hillary Clinton’s historic DNC speech while my dad did the dishes in the kitchen. Women are doing amazing things all over the world. Feminism is alive and well and more complex than ever. Here are five incredible examples of inspiring women!
1. Serena Williams
Serena is potentially my biggest idol. I come from a tennis family, and I remember watching her matches when I was five, ten, fifteen years old, sprawled on my living room floor and gazing up at the TV. I played for my school’s varsity tennis team, and during criticism about Serena’s temper I remember most of our team demonizing her for her righteous anger on the court. As a black woman in a predominantly white sport, Serena has faced vitriolic hate (see: the 2001 Indian Wells tournament), but she has persevered mightily as one of the best athletes in the world. Also, her clothing line is amazing, and she always wears the coolest outfits on the court.
2. Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and, at just 19 years old, the youngest ever Nobel laureate. Shot by the Taliban in 2012, Malala gained international attention for her spirit, resilience, and activism. She’s written a memoir, I Am Malala, and there was a movie about her, He Named Me Malala, all about her incredible young life. Frankly, if we all cared about one thing as much as Malala cares about girls learning, we would get so much done in this world.
3. Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama, our country’s First Lady, is an American idol. She’s the most educated First Lady ever (Harvard Law, Princeton undergrad)—in fact, she and Barack met at their law firm, where she was assigned to mentor him. As First Lady, she has supported important causes like healthy eating, international girls’ education, and higher education in America. She is also an unapologetic feminist who knows that her roles as mother and wife don’t prohibit her from other types of success. When Hillary becomes President in November (fingers crossed), this country will miss Michelle more than we can bear.
4. Gina Rodriguez
Actress Gina Rodriguez, while arguably smaller-scale than these other women, is a personal inspiration to me. Winning the CW’s first Golden Globe in 2015 for her work on Jane the Virgin, Gina is blazing trails for Latina women. While accepting her award, she said it represented “a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes,” and since then, she has continued to impress the media and inspire young people with her poise, activism, and talent. She has also recently refused to label her sexuality, saying, “I don’t need anyone to define their sexuality to me nor do I feel the need to either. I love hearts. Period.” In one interview, while relaying a story where a casting director told her they needed to determine if she was pretty enough to put on the cover of a magazine, Gina said, “This is how you put someone on the cover of a magazine—you get a fucking backdrop, you get a photographer, you take a picture, and you print that shit out… The camera will not break, unless I fucking break it with my hand.” Incredible.
Beyoncé Knowles is an icon. An accomplished singer, dancer, and actress, Beyoncé’s biggest successes in my eyes are the strides she has made for black women in America. She essentially epitomizes modern feminism in all its complexity. And her work has only gotten more nuanced and impressive as time goes on. Her 2016 visual album Lemonade lays out an intricate narrative about love, anger, fidelity, forgiveness, race, and womanhood, all while (of course) showcasing her amazing voice and performance skills. Also, can we take a minute to appreciate the pun (and message!) of “Come on, ladies, now let’s get in formation (information)??
Who run the world? Girls.
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