Six Feminist Icons To Inspire You
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Politics and Activism

Six Feminist Icons To Inspire You

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life–and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

Six Feminist Icons To Inspire You

Whenever I get stressed or sad, I look at a list of names I've saved on my phone. I have titled this list "WHO RUN DA WORLD??" and I am not ashamed about how nerdy that is. This list is ever-growing, and it contains some really awesome information: feminist women I can look up to. Whenever I'm anxious, afraid, self-doubting, or lazy, I simply take a look at this list of incredible women and it motivates me to be all-around kick-ass. Here's a sampling of some of these amazing humans to get you through your week.

1. Rowan Blanchard

Rowan Blanchard is the 15-year-old star of Disney Channel's Girl Meets World. She is also an extremely outspoken and eloquent feminist and fighter for human rights. She uses her Twitter, Tumblr, and other forms of social media to raise awareness about these causes, and she has also spoken at the UN Women and US National Committee's annual conference as part of He For She. Plus, this awesome gal has given several speeches and written several articles about self-confidence, feminism, and intersectionality. I wish I was as cool as Rowan.

2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been a Supreme Court Justice since 1993 and I've had the amazing privilege of hearing her speak. Seriously, this woman is amazing. She was only the second woman in our Supreme Court (this, in 1993!). In 1996, she wrote the Court's landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, which ruled that the Virginia Military Institute could not refuse to admit women. She officiated a same-sex wedding in 2013. And here's her definition of feminism, from a 2012 interview with Makers: "I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang, 'Free to be You and Me.' Free to be, if you were a girl–doctor, lawyer, Indian chef. Anything you want to be. And if you're a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that's okay too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers." Long live the Notorious RBG.

3. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter and is largely known for her self-portraits. Seriously, though, this woman is so cool. Her work openly dealt with topics like abortion, gender inequalities, and the personal and sexual lives of women. She pushed back against feminine beauty standards, depicting herself in paintings with a mustache and unibrow. In real life she wore those proudly, and would even sometimes darken them with a black pencil.

4. Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong'o is an incredible actress and film director, born in Mexico to Kenyan parents and then raised in Kenya. Seriously, this woman is talented. She speaks four languages, has given speeches on the beauty of black women, won an Oscar, is a Global Elephant Ambassador (!!!), and actively advocates for women's issues, acting, and the arts in Kenya. Here's what she's said about feminism: "I hope that my presence on your screen and my face in magazines may lead you, young girls, on a beautiful journey. That you will feel validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside."

5. Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe is most known for her gorgeous close-up paintings of flowers and/or women's reproductive organs (she also painted skyscrapers and landscapes of New Mexico). While usually her work was respected as good only in terms of being "a woman's painting," her work has recently had a resurgence in popularity with the rise of feminism. She once said, "I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life–and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." I think we could all stand to live like Georgia.

6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer and speaker. She has given speeches for TED, the Commonwealth Lecture, and more. One of her speeches, entitled "We Should All Be Feminists," was published as a book (which you should definitely read), has become required reading in Sweden, and was sampled for Beyoncé's song "***Flawless." I am so obsessed with this human. Here's my favorite quote by her: "The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

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