Women’s History Month is celebrated in the beautiful month that holds the first day of Spring, March. We gathered 10 women who have broken boundaries in their fields, opening many doors for us to follow; from voting, to running for POTUS, to protecting our bodies, every curve, every dimple, and becoming exceptional citizens. Let’s carry the torch and continue to celebrate the power of being a woman!
1. Never afraid to speak of her love life, which was unheard of in the 1930’s, Anaïs Nin’s was one of the first women in history to write female erotica. Oo la la! Her critically acclaimed work proved that women should celebrate their sexuality, rather than being ashamed of it. Perfect timing!
2. Shortly after the death of her friend Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou overcame her depression and wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Despite the graphic depictions of childhood rape, the book shined a bright light on her as one of the best authors of our time. Goes to show, the greatest work can come from the darkest places, and still, you rise!
3. Feminists believed Georgia O’Keefe was the originator of ‘female iconography’, due to her very sensual paintings. However, O’Keefe refused to join the movement and thought of herself as an artist, as opposed to a ‘woman artist’. Hey, it really isn’t a man’s world.
4. Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress, and in 1972 she ran for President of the United States (she didn’t receive the Democratic nomination, unfortunately). She said “her goal was simply to challenge the status quo” and that she did. With our last presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Chisholm’s story has come back to light, giving all women hope that we can make powerful moves on our way to POTUS.
5. Vogue Italia’s Editor-In-Chief, the late Franca Sozzani, transformed the fashion-filled publication, making it a priority to include articles that were rarely discussed. For example, domestic violence and drug abuse. Her biggest chess move was ‘The Black Issue’ that celebrated women of color in an industry that still faces racism to this day. Whoa!
6. Janis Joplin’s original and gritty voice was a heaven-sent to the male-dominated bands she made music with. The rebel also smashed a bottle of Southern Comfort in Jim Morrison’s head. Not telling you to go smash bottles, but be inspired by her independence and drive to dominate the industry and of course, to not take shit from anyone.
7. Known for her humanitarian work and kick-ass acting skills, Audrey Hepburn called the experience of her father leaving ‘the most traumatic event of her life’. Despite his involvement with Fascist activity, Hepburn reconnected with him after years of not speaking. Though he was still emotionally detached, she supported him financially until his death. Lead with love, always.
8. The undeniable Nina Simone got her first concert recital at age 12 mainly because of her incredible talent with the piano. However, her parents who had taken seats in the front row for her recital debut were moved to the back to make way for the white audience. Simone refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front…this was just the beginning of her strong involvement in the civil rights movement. Boss!
9. Burlesque, then known as a chorus line of girls, began as early as the Victorian era. However, the first big star was Millie DeLeon. With her more suggestive dance moves and elaborate costumes, she was known for toying with the media and the law. She had been arrested numerous times, most famously for ‘accidentally’ forgetting her tights.
10. There is no better time than now to read up on Susan Bromwell Anthony! A women’s rights activist in the 1800’s who made daring moves for the abolition of slavery and women’s right to vote. She was arrested for voting in her hometown, convicted for said ‘crime’ of which she refused to pay the fine. How badass!
No matter your story, your age, your field there is and will always be a way to make a difference in our world. Who inspires you to be great? Whomever it may be, share your love, knowledge, and skill with the world… and let us all, rise up!
by Alia Michèle Orane