Friday, 8 March 2019

10 Women Who Inspire Me

Happy International Women's Day! This is one of my favourite days of the year as it gives us a chance to celebrate just how far we have come as women, all we've achieved and look to the future for what we can do next. I love reading about everything that is going on around the world in different organisations and by individuals to champion women's rights and lift years of oppression. 

To celebrate today I thought I would share with you 10 women who have inspired me. I love looking towards other women for inspiration and reading their stories just fires me up to keep writing my own. I hope you enjoy this post and I wish you a very happy International Women's Day! 

1. Coco Chanel 

"A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."- Coco Chanel

Where would we be without Chanel?! Probably still wearing a corset every day yikes! Gabrielle Chanel is such an inspiration of mine. Starting from very humble roots she defied all expectations and became a world renowned fashion designer of what is now one of the most famous fashion houses in all the world. Chanel fought for a place in a world that told her she wasn't good enough because of the class she had been born into. 

She completely revolutionised women's fashion, getting rid of the restricting corseted fashion of the day and instead replacing it with beautiful elegant less restrictive clothing. Her style, elegance and sharp business acumen in a world dominated by male businessmen continues to inspire me today. 

2. Agatha Christie

“The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. ” ― Agatha Christie

You'll know if you read my post yesterday just how much Christie's books have changed my life. Her writing is such an inspiration to me as a writer. Her intelligence, quick wit and unbelievable imagination continue to inspire my writing every day. She published her first Poirot novel at the age of 30 and then continued to publish over 70 books in her life time. 

Her enthusiasm for her craft and the use of inspiration that she found all around her from her archaeologist husbands digs to the medicines and poisons she learnt about during her time as at the pharmacy during the war, continue to inspire me as a writer. She has taught me that a story can be made from anything if one simply has the imagination to bring it to life.  

3. Audrey Hepburn

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others - Audrey Hepburn

My obsession with Audrey Hepburn has lasted a lifetime. It began as a child when I found a box of Audrey Hepburn films on video and I decided to watch Roman Holiday. It was love at first sight. Her beauty, her poise, her grace, her charm and her amazing talent as an actress had me straight away. As I grew older I began to learn more and more about the actress I had fallen in love with. After a very difficult childhood spent in occupied Holland during the second world war Audrey decided to follow her dream and become a professional ballet dancer. However a turn in her career lead to time on the stage, appearing in films as minor roles and then a sudden shot to stardom when she took on the lead in Roman Holiday

As a young girl I dreamed of becoming an actress just like Audrey. And it was not only her acting skills that inspired me. I loved to recreate her looks and even now so much of my style is influenced by her classic and elegant fashion sense. I even got myself a pixie cut at one point just like Audrey! I have also greatly admired the work she did in later life using her platform to highlight the plight of starving children. Hepburn worked for UNICEF doing all she could to help end poverty and starvation for children around the world. 

She is a style icon, humanitarian inspiration and her films still bring so much joy and pleasure to so many. She has been such an inspiration to me in my life as I have spent many years battling between my more glamorous side and my humanitarian side. As I was growing up it felt like I was either allowed to be glamorous or I was allowed to want to help the world and its people. I couldn't do both. Even now I find people judge me because I choose to wear make up and dresses as if that means I couldn't possibly care about anybody but myself. I presumed stupid and self obsessed. Audrey taught me that it is allowed to be fashion icon and a humanitarian. She inspires me everyday.

4. Jane Austen

"I wish, as well as everybody else to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way" - Jane Austen

As with Agatha Christie, if you read my post yesterday you will know how much Austen's writings, especially Pride and Prejudice, have influenced my own life. I love her books and have found so much solace and pleasure hiding in them from time to time. Jane taught me what a man ought to be and that waiting for the right one was never a bad thing.

I have been inspired by Jane Austen from the age of ten when I first read Pride and Prejudice. I loved the clever intricacies of the story, the amazing characters and the beautiful language. As I began to learn more about Austen over the years I fell in love with her writing even more.

She wasn't from a well off family and it is well documented that her family struggled. She had six brothers and a sister which meant money was tight and the best thing for her to do was to marry well. However, it is believed she refused many proposals including one from a rather wealthy man that could have changed her life completely. She was a strong believer in marrying for love and would not be pressured by society.

She was a women before her time choosing to have a career as a writer in a day when lady novelists were few and far between. She was forced to publish anonymously through her brother as at the time women could not sign contracts of their own. It was also seen as unseemly for women to be novelists as their primary roles were to be wives and mothers. But she defied all the odds, publishing four novels in her life time and two were published after her death. She is still over 200 years later one of the most popular authors of all time and her books have been translated into languages all over the world. Her strong and intelligent female characters have stood the test of time and continue to inspire my own romantic fiction writing today.

5. Michelle Obama

"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens." - Michelle Obama

I fell in love with this woman only recently when I read her autobiography Becoming. If you haven't read it go out and get yourself a copy right now! Michelle is honestly one of the most inspiring women of our time. She came from very humble beginnings but proved to so many that anything is possible. She defied expectations attending Princeton University where she spent most of her time very much in the minority as a young black woman. She then went on to study at Harvard Law School and began her career as a lawyer in a world dominated by white, privileged men.

Over the years she decided to change career and instead focus a lot of her attention on public services before becoming the first lady of the USA. After moving into the White House she did not lose any of her enthusiasm for changing the world around her. She devoted herself to projects using her own platform to help make change for so many.

She is an incredibly intelligent, hard working and talented woman who has never let her gender or race determine who she could be and what she could do. She continues to fight for the rights of women all over the globe and is an inspiration to so many young women.

6. Livia Firth

"We (consumers) have the power...we are in charge" - Livia Firth 

I have been following Livia Firth's amazing work since I realised just how important sustainable fashion is to our world. Married to a very famous male actor, she hasn't let that take anything away from who she is and instead has chosen to use her platform as his wife for good. She is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of EcoAge as well as the founder of the Green Carpet Challenge an initiative that encourages celebrities to wear sustainable fashion on the red carpet. She spearheads multiple campaigns for environmental and social justice as well as being a UN Leader of Change.

As an advocate and keen campaigner for environmental and social justice myself I find her such an inspiration. Her dedication to changing the world through how we wear and view fashion is making such an impact on so many. She continues to inspire me and this blog every day.

7. Amal Clooney

"If you're a woman lying on the beach in the Maldives, you might want to know that a kilometre away, another woman is being flogged. And you might want to find your own way to protest that." - Amal Clooney

As I mentioned before something I have struggled with all my life is the idea pressed upon me that a woman cannot be both beautiful and change the world. Amal Clooney proves this wrong. As a top human rights lawyer and one of the most stylish and glamorous women in the world she is such an inspiration to me. She has made huge strides in her career as a human rights lawyer, taking on many major cases and helping to change the world. In a career that is normally dominated by white privileged males it is so inspiring to see a woman take centre stage.

Her intelligence, commitment to her career and fabulous sense of style continues to inspire me and reminds me that a woman can be both kick ass and glamourous.

8. Corrie ten Boom

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." - Corrie ten Boom

I first learnt about Corrie ten Boom when I was in school in a religious studies lesson and I found her story completely captivating. Corrie ten Boom was a dutch watch maker who during the dutch occupation in world war two helped many jewish dutch escape the holocaust by hiding them in her home. As a Christian she inspires me and my faith. Her unbelievable courage and trust in God during a time of such fear knowing that at any moment they could be caught. This courage and trust continued after the Gastapo arrested her and her whole family sending them to a concentration camp. Luckily Corrie survived and shared her famous story in the book The Hiding Place. She went on to write many more books about her Christian faith and they make for very inspiring reading. I hope one day to write books full of amazing testimonies like hers.

As  Christian I find her story utterly captivating and inspiring. She was such a brave woman who knew what was right and decided to fight for it.

9. Baroness Helena Kennedy

I recently came across Helena Kennedy when I read her latest book Eve Was Shamed and I was completely blown away by her work. Helena trained to become a barrister in a time when women were few and far between. She defied all the odds and although was repeatedly met with sexism in a heavily white privileged male dominated career, she has managed to help implement change for other women to step into the role of barrister.

She also campaigns heavily for the rights of women and her latest book Eve Was Shamed highlights just how much our legal system fails women. We as women are constantly fighting the battle everyday for our right to be seen as equals and Helena's work has been vital in pushing change within the legal system so that women can be treated as people not less than men.

Her book was so inspiring to me and really encouraged me to keep fighting for the rights of women around the world. If you haven't read it I really suggest you do!

10. Katherine Johnson

"Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men." - Katherine Johnson 

Being so totally hopeless as maths and science it seems strange I would choose a mathematician in my list of 10 women who have inspired me. But the fact is she really has inspired me! Katherine Johnson is an amazing woman and I am so glad I got to learn about her story.

Katherine Johnson was an African-American woman living in Virginia during a time when women, let alone black women, were not seen as anymore than wives and mothers. But with her bright mathematicians brain she managed to defy all the odds and got a job at NASA. She was repeatedly faced with racism and sexism but continued to pursue her passion and what she knew to be her calling. She proved her place by being instrumental in the success of the first and second U.S manned flights into space. Without her maths it never would have worked.

She turned 100 last summer and a few years ago was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her determination to fight for her place in a world that told her she had no business to be there is such an inspiration to me. She was an amazing woman with unbelievable mathematical skills who din't let anybody tell her who she could be and what she could do.

There you have it. 10 amazing women to inspire you today. Let me know your inspirational women down in the comments!


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