Picking from the thousands to millions of women who are consistently putting their life, families and comfort on the line for the sake of the progression of those around them, picking ten women who inspire me was incredibly difficult. These are in no particular order.
Okay, okay. Maybe she’s number one for a reason. Beyoncé, for decades, has been a force for feminism, empowerment and black women through her creative outlets of music, film and art. Beyoncé has taken an opportunity and made it an empire. While she has helped make leaps and bounds within social justice, Beyoncé has managed to instill a need, a desire for empowerment in young women in a world that wants to tear them right back down. I slay, Beyoncé, I slay.
2. Megyn Kelly
Working in such a polarizing field can be incredibly difficult to be taken seriously, especially as a Republican, female reporter. Megyn Kelly represents what all women have to deal with on a daily basis: mansplaining, belittling and battling for respect – and she does it with grace. Megyn Kelly has continued to be one of the most respected right-leaning female reporters and, despite her male counterparts, regularly displays her intelligence and commitment to the art of journalism.
3. Michelle Obama
For a different turn, Michelle Obama may seem pretty obvious. Similarly to Ms. Kelly, she has been under mass scrutiny for the entirety of her time as First Lady for one reason or the other: starting with her looks and escalating to her politics. (Is she doing too little? Is she doing too much? Can she win?) Through all of her criticism, she has kept her head up high and had massive success – never losing her cool or lashing out. That’s class.
4. bell hooks
Feminist author bell hooks will forever inspire me in the way that she can transcend generations in her activism. An activist for not only women’s rights but specifically Black women’s rights, she has broken out of the shell where so many writers of her era are stuck: in their old ways with no means for change. She is a teacher, an activist, a writer, a children’s advocate, and has done more in her lifetime than I could ever wish to achieve.
5. Laverne Cox
Ms. Cox is right next to Beyoncé. She has taught me and so many other Millennials what it means to be a woman and how we are allowed to challenge that. It’s a powerful thing to see a woman express herself in a way with complete disregard for the opinions of others that makes women everywhere feel comfortable in their own skin. Laverne Cox reminds us that you decide who you are and those around you better respect that.
6. Rupi Kaur
Known for her “shocking” poems about period blood and tea, Rupi Kaur has used the medium of Instagram to bring back two seemingly dying arts: hand-drawn doodles and actually decent poetry. She is a woman of color and she takes complete ownership of her relationships and her body. And sometimes it hurts. And she’s not afraid to show it. Rupi Kaur reminds us through her poetry that sometimes being a woman can suck but it’s all a part of the package and we are not alone.
7. Jenji Kohan
My obsession with Jenji Kohan came when I began her show Weeds freshman year of college. I saw how empowered Nancy was and how a female character can make it through 10 seasons of a show without being owned by a man. Jenji uses mainstream television (Orange is the New Black) and shock-value material to lure audiences into her world of empowered women, people of color and the taboo and sends a deep message that is current, but not overdone.
8. Amy Poehler & Tina Fey
I feel obligated to put these two together because of all the work they’ve done as a power couple. It’s a powerful thing to have two women working together independently as opposed to a team of men plus a woman, or something of the sort. They’ve essentially created their careers on strong, empowered characters that challenge female characters in television, in the workplace and in comedy. As someone who spends 85% of my day telling jokes to my cat, how could I not be inspired?
Not sure where to begin. She has spent everyday of her 83 years on this earth defending gender equality (for men and women), is a mother and grandmother, and has probably been the most influential woman in politics for women’s rights. One time someone said, “I made them consider feminism.” That counts right?
10. Daisy Ridley
My galactic goddess has graced us with her presence in Star Wars as Rey and needed no man, no love, no parents, nothing. In the real world, Daisy is a health advocate and strong supporter of empowered women and girls, using her stature as a female icon and celebrity in the “nerd” world to bring light to an often criticized fanbase of women and girls and reminds us we can like whatever we want, whomever we want, however we want! (Also people constantly tell me I look like her so…)