For the past three years, this poster has been the view I have awoken to every morning. Staring me in the face was a strong-willed woman – urging me to get up, get a move on and get out there into the world. I don’t mind saying that this poster has inspired me hugely and encouraged me daily to make a difference in the world, just as the women of Great Britain did during the Second World War. Just think of all those young girls who dropped everything to join the land army and or work in munitions factories; consolidating their efforts to give Britain a fighting chance. If they could have had such an effect, then so can we. The poster also affirms my strong belief in feminism, but it’s probably best if I leave my views on that particular subject for another post altogether! To see a visualisation of inspirational women take a look at Bollykeck’s post on the same topic.
Last Wednesday was International Women’s Day. The byline on their website reads “connecting girls, inspiring futures”. I can think of no better plan, especially as this includes providing “a common day for globally recognising and applauding women’s achievements as well as for observing and highlighting gender inequalities and issues”. I am inspired by so many women; dead and alive, fictional and real, family members, friends, teachers, writers, actors and politicians to name but a few. They all possess different qualities which I aspire to one day have myself, yet are united only because they all share the same gender. Here are the chosen few, known to all:
The Queen is the ultimate model of poise, grace, patience and hard work. She always projects positivity and never, ever, shows any degree of being tired, bored or uninterested by the people she meets or the places she visits.
Helena Bonham Carter (who has portrayed two Queens in her time!) is fearless with her fashion choices as well as being a versatile and captivating actor. Transforming from the teenage girl in Howard’s End to the kindly Mrs Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the chilling and terrifying Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series proves her acting capabilities.
Caitlin Moran wrote an extremely good book last year. It’s called “How to be a Woman”. I’m confident that many of you will have read it. In it she professes on paper everything we have all being thinking about feminism for the last few years but have been too self-conscious to say out loud. Moran is also a journalist for The Times and her weekly column in the Times Saturday Magazine has been my weekend luncheon companion for the past six years.
Emma Watson cropped her beautiful locks short to celebrate the end of an eleven year contract by which she had agreed not to tan her skin or alter her hair whilst appearing in the Harry Potter series. The result was that she inspired many girls to do the same and take the short-hair plunge. I was in such a “GO EMMA!” mood about it that I wrote a post at the time.
Victoria Coren, as well as being a top-class journalist and presenter with a degree from Oxford is also a World Poker Champion and a member of Team PokerStars Pro, with lifetime winnings of $1.5 million. I finished her autobiography “For Richer, For Poorer – Confessions of a Player” in January and found it engaging, witty and refreshingly honest. Coren is a quirky individual who deflects negativity and instead focuses on what matters to her. I think she is incredibly cool.
Bel Rowley (The Hour) was played brilliantly, last Summer, by Romola Garai. Bel is a fifties feminist and a woman who holds a strong journalistic role at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios in the middle of the Suez Canal crisis. Despite her ability to perform her role extremely well, she is subject to subtly sexist marks. When inquiring after Prime Minister Eden’s health, one of his Press Advisers replies “Such maternal instincts. I do think you are rather wasted in news”. She later slights his intelligence by saying to her Editor, in the adviser (Angus’) presence, “Auribus teneo lupum”, and then snapping to Angus “Look it up”. The Latin translates into English as “Take the wolf by the ears”.
Morgan Le Fay, the villain of the Legend of King Arthur of Camelot is one of the oldest records of a feminist. True, we have little or no evidence as to whether she actually existed, but she is portrayed in the printed word and on-screen as a woman who will not rest until her right to ascend to the throne of Camelot is acknowledged.
Jenny Mellor (An Education) decides against marrying a much older man who can give her all the riches she could ever want in favour of studying to gain a place at Oxford and make her own way in the world. The character of the early 1960s schoolgirl Jenny, played to perfection by Carey Mulligan, doesn’t fall into the trap of giving up on her education to be married in her teens simply because she has had a good offer of marriage and in doing so proves to herself, and everybody else, that she can be independent.
Which women inspire you and why?