Welcome to one of my favourite days of the year – International Women’s Day!
It’s a day that never fails to make me emotional, contemplative, and proud to be who I am. There are thousand and thousands of women out there, working hard, being themselves, and not taking ‘no’ for an answer – and there are many women who sadly don’t have a choice, but endure and stay strong regardless.
This is a list of the women who’ve made me who I am, told me it’s ok to be vulnerable, and it’s ok to say ‘No’, it’s ok to be yourself – whoever that is – and that nothing is beyond your reach. There are a tonne of people who aren’t on this list – that’s not to say they aren’t as (or even more) important than the people here, it’s just that they haven’t changed me personally. In no particular order, here we go!
1. Tyra Banks
I was a huge fan of America’s Next Top Model as a kid. I especially loved Tyra – she was so unbelievably confident, and she was pretty silly too. She was never afraid to be herself at any point. Sometimes she was vulnerable (I have several memories of her crying on the show) and she wasn’t afraid of that either. She always stuck up for the girls, told them to love themselves and not to put themselves down. All of the things she taught those girls, she taught me too. It’s ok to be yourself.
2. Emma Watson
I feel like Emma should be on this list twice. First of all, Hermione Granger was probably my number one inspiration growing up (be honest, she was one of yours too right?). She was the smartest girl in class, never let herself be defined by boys or romance, she was kind, she was compassionate, and always stood up for herself – that time she punched Draco Malfoy made my entire year. She taught me that girls can be smart and powerful and successful… but also nice at the same time.
Then, enter Emma Watson. I’ll be honest, her He for She campaign speech made me cry, and I still get emotional thinking about it. Her speech attempted to destroy the idea that feminists are “man haters”, and tried to get men in on the conversation – because the patriarchy hurts men as well (if you haven’t seen it yet, the link to her speech is here). I love Emma Watson to death and thank her every day. In no small way she made me who I am now, and she continues to inspire me. Ten points to Gryffindor!
3. Caitlin Moran
How to Be a Woman is the first feminist book I ever read. Caitlin is hilarious, and everything she says resonates with me on a personal level. Her childhood is so awkward and in a way, so is her adulthood, but that is what makes her great. Unafraid to talk frankly on topics like body hair, sex, food, and weird habits, her book told me that there is no ‘one way’ to be a woman (and she’s influenced my writing to boot). If you haven’t read How to Be a Woman yet, where have you been? Go do it now – go!
Who run the world? Girls!
How can I make a list of inspirational women without the one and only ‘Yoncé? Dubbed ‘Queen B’, Beyoncé stands up for women everywhere and never takes a back seat – you only need to hear ‘Listen’ (or watch the great film Dream Girls for which it was made) to know that about her. B cares for women all around the world, is a businesswoman, a Mother, and wife, and a superstar all at the same time. Bey tells us all never to hide our shine or our confidence, or put away our dreams for anyone. #FEMINIST
5. Taylor Swift
What girl doesn’t currently have a crush on Taylor Swift? She’s the best. But, aside from all her amazing outfit choices and her catchy songs, Taylor Swift tells us that it’s ok to change your mind. A few years ago, Taylor Swift said firmly that she was not a feminist – however, since then she has done a complete 180 and is now an ambassador for the cause. She used to be defined by her boyfriends (and her breakups) but now enjoys spending time with herself, saying she doesn’t need someone else to make her feel complete. It’s good to show that people can change if they just stay open minded – I hope she’ll influence others to change too.
International Women’s Day is not just a day to celebrate the achievements of famous women or accomplished women – it’s a day to celebrate every woman in the world, especially the ones who gave birth to, raised, and loved, all of us. My Mum gave me a loving home, confidence when I needed it, stern words when I needed those too, and a happy environment in which I was free to become my own person. She never tried to make me into something that I’m not, never tried to influence me, never pressured me into anything – she just encouraged me to be the best person I could be. Every day I’m thankful that I got such a brave, kind, and loving person for a Mother. Thank you, Mum, for everything you’ve done and continue to do.
So there are my top 6 influential women. I realise they are almost all just ‘celebrities’ and that there are many thousands of other women worthy of recognition, but as I said earlier, these are just my influences. Honourable mentions include;- Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Laci Green, J K Rowling, Iggy Pop, Lorelai Gilmore (and, I guess, Rory), Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Christina Amanpour, and many, many more.
So, Happy International Women’s Day everybody! I hope one day that equality will be realised, and that that one day will happen soon. There’s still a long way to go, but all we need to do is keep fighting, keep campaigning, keep trying and it will happen. Tell me about some of your most inspirational women below – I’d love to hear about them!