inspirational ladies

It’s resolution season, people. One of my goals for 2014 is to realize my Full Potential as a woman. Because I am an unabashedly feminine feminist, that means finding my power color signature red lipstick and turning to some of my favorite writers, politicians, and mavericks for a little independent woman inspiration.

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” -Virginia Woolf

Studying male dominated history is depressing. Virginia Woolf reminds us that women have been contributing to science and philosophy and poetry for centuries, hidden away under male pseudonyms and ghost writers (ahem, Bronte sisters). Every woman’s name on a Nobel prize, book jacket, or punk rock stage is a high five for ladies everywhere.

“Being born a woman is my awful tragedy… Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with the road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars— to be part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording— all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.” -Sylvia Plath

I want to be able to walk freely at night. Powerful stuff. Some itinerations of this quote, lifted from Plath’s Unabridged Journals, leave off the first sentence. But I think it’s important to acknowledge the full weight of her words. For better or worse, one of the most famous female writers and voices of feminine anxiety found her female-ness cloying. It’s been sixty years, and women still can’t explore their own cities with the same safety as men. This rather dire admission is a reminder that the fight for equality isn’t over until every woman can be proud of her identity.

“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.” -Diana Vreeland

Perfection is boring. Take heart that one of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar‘s most influential fashion editors finds flaws fabulous, and that a little “paprika” can define your style and set off a trendy outfit. Always nice to keep in mind when debating whether or not to buy 7 inch stacked snakeskin booties.

“In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: either she’s a feminist or a masochist.” -Gloria Steinem

It wasn’t easy to choose just one “defining feminism” quote. Too many starlets and singers are loathe to label themselves feminists when all feminism means is demanding equal opportunities, respect, and physical safety for women and men. Leave it to Ms. Steinem to lay it out in black and white.

 “I believe that the rights of women and girls are the unfinished business of the 21st century.” -Hillary Clinton

Hillary! Patron saint of female education, married women committed to their careers, pro-choice activists, female politicians, and anyone who prefers to be judged for a formidable list of accomplishments over their pantsuit. This quote sums up much of Clinton’s commitment to advancing LGBT rights, advocating reproductive healthcare, and making women and girls heard in American politics. Keep fighting the good fight.

I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde. -Dolly Parton

A lighter take on Eleanor Roosevelt’s “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” No one else bears responsibility for your self esteem, and insults mean absolutely nothing if they aren’t true. Dolly is also proof that being lighthearted and flamboyant are not incongruous with being successful, that waving your freak flag loud and proud can often give your life that little extra zing that makes people take notice of your other accomplishments. You know what’s bigger than Dolly’s implants? Her own damn theme park.

“When people say: She’s got everything. I’ve only one answer: I haven’t had tomorrow.” -Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor inspires us all to live a larger-than-life existence. We don’t have that long on the planet to strive for the biggest career and sparkliest diamonds. Professional success, media mogul, legendary beauty, influential humanitarian work, epic romance, and an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, Liz had it all and still saw opportunity for more.

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman. -Anais Nin

Leave it to Anais Nin to make finding a life partner feminist and sexy. Romantic love is a beautiful thing, especially with a man that encourages you to be your best self.

I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it. -Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn suffered from insecurities, abandonment issues, and the weight of embodying the entire planet’s sexual fantasies. But, underneath it all, she could always find comfort in her femininity. Her refusal to be defined by other’s expectations is as inspirational as her indomitable spirit. Being a woman is fun and, like Marilyn, I’ll do my best this year to enjoy it.

“Tomorrow is another day.” Scarlett O’Hara/Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

The inimitable Scarlett has a way of putting things in perspective. No matter what happens– catcalling, bad haircut, lost promotion, flat tire– tomorrow is another day. You can get through anything if you remember that there’s always a fresh start waiting.

Queen Bey’s album release has feminism and what it means to be a feminist back in the spotlight lately. These are the quotes that have me wanting to be a better woman in 2014.