What women (in real life, in history and/or in fiction) have inspired you to JUST BE who you are?
For me? My real life inspiration is my Mom. I've looked up to my Mom my whole life and wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She is kind, a saint among mere mortals, funny when she's not trying to be, compassionate, smart, and fierce. My mother is Sicilian and while she is the most selfless and thoughtful person I have ever met, you mess with one of her cubs and you better watch your ass. My Mom was always the person who defended, stuck up for me, and dried my tears when I came home crying from school...which was a lot. While the interactions with my peers throughout my entire adolescence were made to make me feel worthless, my Mom never let me feel that way. I have never settled, I have never not worked for what I wanted, I have never not felt that I don't deserve the good things I have been blessed with. My Mom taught me that feminism is about choice. Whatever that choice may be. Stay at home mom, full-time career, some, all, or none of it in between, true feminism is allowing and respecting a woman's choice in how she decides to live her life. My Mom is an inspiration and if I'm half the wife and mother and person she is...then I'll consider myself lucky.
In history, this will come as no secret that Anne Boleyn is my homegirl. She was the creator of playing hard to get and making a man chase you. HELLO, DUH! It took me longer than I'd like to admit to realize this but it is so true. She was clever, outspoken, opinionated, cunning, and fiercely intelligent in a world where women were meant to be seen and not heard. She broke the mold of what was expected of females and had no shame in using her feminine charms, either. While history doesn't paint her in the best light and her end was tragic, she is still an inspiration to me and always will be.
I went back and forth with my fictional choice but in the end I knew the without a doubt that one fictional character in particular changed the way I thought about myself. Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead was the first female character I read that like her curvy body. Let me tell you how I was smacked with all kinds of shock. Rose is not thin or tiny or small, all euphemisms for skinny. She is fit and active and has breasts and hips and an ass and she loved it! She eats donuts because she wants to and doesn't feel bad about it. This was the first time, in our model-driven anorexic society, that I felt good about have a curvy figure. Today, I love my body, imperfections and all, and wouldn't change it. It took me 25 years to love what I look like and accept that this is the body God gave me and work it is what I do. Richelle Mead and Rose Hathaway give such a positive portrayal of a young woman who loves her body that I couldn't help but be affected by it. And to them I say, thank you.
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In Real Life? Although there are a number of women who have inspired me throughout my life, my mama has definitely been the biggest influence on the person I am today. Some of my favorite things about myself come from her, and some of the qualities I most wish I had are ones I’ve watched her model all my life! She’s smart, selfless, and totally sassy. She doesn't just inspire me to be who I am– she’s also the kind of person I wantto be!
In History? Jane Austen. I could write you an essay on all the reasons I admire her and am inspired by her! I love her early passion for writing – and that she continued to pursue it for the rest of her life. I adore her clever mind and sharp tongue because it’s what makes her books such a delightful experience. And I can’t help but love the way she knew her own mind and defied convention. Plus, she’s basically taken over the world.
In Fiction? For this answer, I had to go back to the very beginning: Anne Shirley. I don’t think there’s another fictional character that has impacted me the way she did (and still does!). I love that she is an optimist, a dreamer and always sees the good in people. Growing up, she was a reminder for me that being different wasn’t a bad thing. She was fully herself – but she also accepted others just as they were. And I’ve always been inspired by her because of it!
Ellice from Paper RiotReal Life: My mom. This choice required no thought whatsoever. My mom is an amazing woman. She's so smart, and there's absolutely nothing she can't do when she sets her mind to it. She taught me since Day One what it means to be a strong, independent woman, and she's always encouraging me to follow my dreams. I wouldn't be even half the person I am today without her constant source of inspiration and motivation. Basically, if I'm Rory, then she's my Lorelei.
History: I had a hard time deciding on who to choose for my historical inspiration. I wanted to pick a lady from history who I've actually admired and who I really do think about periodically as a source of inspiration. And though this isn't very far back in history, and may sound crazy, I'm going to say Lucille Ball. Truthfully, I know very little about her personal life, but in terms of her professional life, she was a super successful lady when women were expected to be little more than housewives. I've watched her in I Love Lucy since I was a little bitty girl, and I still start every morning with a couple of episodes of her show. I ADORE HER because even though she has that obnoxious controlling Ricky Ricardo for a husband, she always, ALWAYS does it her way in the end (even if her idea is totally crazy, which it usually is!). I guess it's more her role in her show that I admire, but there's no doubt about it that Lucille Ball was a very successful female in a man's world.
Fiction: Eeep. I hope you didn't want us to choose only ONE fictional lady because if so I'm totally breaking the rules! Haha.
>>Honestly, Liza Palmer's leading ladies are truly the most inspirational fictional women I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Obviously Anna & Sasha from Girl Before a Mirror, but also Queenie & Merry Carole from Nowhere But Home, and then there's Maggie from Conversations with the Fat Girl. They are all examples of what it means to be your own person, independent and intelligent, and yet still maintain healthy relationships with others.
>>One of my other recent favorite fictional females is Jess from One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. She is AMAZING, raising her own daughter plus her ex-husband's son on a very small income. I admire her determination and dedication so much. To hell with societal constraints, Jess just wants what is best for her children, and by God you know she will accomplish it!
>>Then there's Rosetta from I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe who fought in the Civil War disguised as a man so she could be near her husband. What's even more amazing? Rosetta was based on a REAL PERSON.
>>Skeeter from The Help by Kathryn Stockett is another amazing female from historical fiction. She broke quite a few "laws" and lost a lot of friends by mingling with black maids and telling the truth about the horrors that they faced as black women in the South. She never really batted an eye though--she was determined to do the right thing despite the repercussions that she faced.
That's some powerful stuff, y'all! These fictional women took on the world and kicked its butt! haha. These are just a few of the ones who have been a huge source of inspiration for me to "just be" myself, but their stories packed a hard punch and will certainly stay with me for a very long time!
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When I think of the fictional ladies who inspire me, I find myself drawn towards those gals who were on the cusp of growing up in their stories. Witnessing the way they change from start to finish of their tale really left a strong impression on me, and bolstered my courage to stay steady adrift a sea of shifting circumstances in my real life.
--Jo March from Little Women – Jo is, quite simply, a firecracker. She’s clever and strong-willed, determined to pursue a path that’s all her own. I admired her tenacity, her loyalty to her mother and her sisters, and her love for literature and writing.
--Sara Crewe from A Little Princess – I draw constant inspiration from how Sara manages to stay hopeful and optimistic, even when her world comes crashing down around her. Together with her sense of decency and vivid imagination, she is the kind of person I want to be like.
--Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series – It’s not just her brains that I admire, but it’s her fortitude and her loyalty. She always has her heart in the right place, and constantly strives to do her best by the people she loves. In spite of the odds stacked against her, she constantly manages to triumph and sets a shining example of the fact that you can be who you are and succeed.
In real life, there are really only two ladies I can think of who are excellent examples of allowing themselves the freedom to just be who they really are.
--My grandmother, Aida – Oh, my grandmother is the embodiment of the kind of woman I want to be someday. She’s strong, and she’s smart, and she’s also very wise. The way she handles herself, the way she is confident in her values and the things she likes, it sets a great precedent.
--Taylor Swift – If there’s one young woman I don’t know personally but look to constantly for inspiration, it’s Ms. Swift. She owns her sense of self, whether it comes to her fashion choices or her hobby preferences, and I admire that. I also love that she’s such a positive spirit, and one who tirelessly supports her friends and family, and also makes time for her supporters.
I really thought I would find myself stumped by the historical aspect of this question, but I surprised myself when one name came to mind immediately. Even though what I know of her is largely influenced by the Disney-fied version of her tale, I definitely think it’s worth mentioning her:
--Pocahontas – What I love most about her story is how she made an effort to embrace a people different from her own, seemingly without fear or judgment. While I’m sure it must have been terrifying for her to defy what she’d known and what was familiar, she did it anyway. Her biggest impact is the courage to stand up for what she felt was right, at least to me. I love that.
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My biggest inspiration from my life is without a shadow of a doubt my mother. That may seem cliche or typical, but it could not be more true. My mom raised me and my brother basically by herself, and she showed me what it is to be independent. Not only did she show me independence but she also showed me how to believe in myself. Years after she started teaching me about life, I realized she is the smartest woman I know, and I am so lucky to have her as a kickass role model!
In fiction, I admire Rosetta from I Shall Be Near to You. This woman is the definition of fierce. She is stubborn and driven and those are two qualities i immensely respect when they are used for the greater good. Rosetta is someone I look up to, and have the upmost respect for. This woman can do ANYTHING and she never let anything stop her. Not a man, not a war, nothing. Now tell me what other female can top THAT?!
Now just in case you still need a little inspiration, in case that wasn't enough, I have to include Emma Watson's speech at the UN this past year. I've watched it no less than half a dozen times and I love it. It is strong, empowering, and beauitful.