This year I have officially joined the WI. Having dabbled in finding a suitable group for a few years, I am now apart of Steel Belles WI in Sheffield, a very new group full of great ladies.
2015 is the centenary of the formation of the WI and as we are entering the week of the centenary celebrations I’ve been thinking about the women who inspire me and why they do. So here’s a top 4 women (in no particular order) that I think are awesome. They are all people I’d like to be when I grow up please, or at least steal aspects from…
I bought ‘Bossy Pants’, Tina Fey’s autobiography and it’s hilarious. I’ve read a huge number of funny books, but I’ve rarely laughed aloud to one as often as I did with this. In my eyes, Tina Fey can rarely do any wrong – she wrote Mean Girls, she wrote 30 Rock, created ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, she turns up in all sorts of things and is a breath of fresh air; I even really like Baby Momma and Date Night, I know I’m somewhat in the minority with the last two.
She wrote this prayer for her daughter:
“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers and the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
She also wrote this about expectations of women’s beauty:
“But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.
Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful.
Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
Actually she is infinitely quoteable, everything she says seems to make perfect sense to me and I love her a little bit too much!
“This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. “You’re up for a promotion. If they go for a woman, it’ll be between you and Barbara.” Don’t be fooled. You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.”
I first came across Allison Janney in either ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ playing a trailer trash woman trying to help her neighbour’s daughter compete in an increasingly deadly beauty pageant, or ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ as the porn writing principal. Then my best friend Claire introduced me to The West Wing when I was really ill and I found the greatness that is CJ Cregg, White House Press Secretary.
Janney is fantastic as CJ. The show has so many strong characters, all balancing the dramatic and the comedic, and Janney more than holds her own. And she did this:
“One out of forty American men wears women’s clothing. We’ve had more than forty presidents. One of these guys has been dancing around the Oval Office in a prom dress.”
She’s Tony Award nominated, Emmy Award winning. Look up her list of roles and you’ll realise she’s been in more things than you remembered and often been the most hilarious person in the cast. And see if you can watch a few episodes of Mr Sunshine because she’s with Matthew Perry and what could be better than that?
Emma Thompson, writer, actress, Oscar winner, activist, genius. I really should have bought the signed script of Sense and Sensibility when I found it for £3 in The Old Hall Bookshop, but I didn’t have the cash.
So why do I love Emma Thompson? She’s intelligent, she’s not afraid to speak up for things she believes in, she’s often the best thing at an awards show. She gets naked in front of Stephen Fry to make him feel uncomfortable. She’s got a sense of humour. She has talked about her depression and how she used writing to help her get out of it. She’s done film, musicals and went on a Greenpeace Save the Arctic expedition to raise awareness of the dangers of drilling for oil. (Thanks wiki)
“I don’t know about now but in the old days, when you got candida, you could sometimes treat it with natural yoghurt. One of my gags was about sending my boyfriend out to get yoghurt for the disease he had given me and him coming back with tropical-fruit-and-nut flavour, which just wasn’t what was needed. That used to get quite a big laugh.”
I believe Emma Thompson may be the answer to all things. And she helped me fall in love with Shakespeare by being my favourite character in my favourite play, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.
Ok, so this may seem like an odd choice for a lists of inspiring women – having a drag queen in here – but who am I to limit who is and who is not a woman? And in many ways, RuPaul is far more a woman than I shall ever be.
I was introduced to RuPaul’s Drag Race in Sydney last year when I had flu and couldn’t leave the house. David, who I was staying with, said that I would love it and he was completely right. It took me about 3 episodes to get into, but I am now hooked and have begun to introduce the show to my friends.
RuPaul is so over the top, she’s fabulous. She always has a zingy one liner, she is honest with her contestants and encourages them to be the best queens, and people, that they can be. She is stunning – obviously with a lot of money and time to spend on clothes, make up and wigs. She is a powerhouse. She seems very genuine when talking to the contestants and isn’t afraid to laugh at herself. And her laugh is brilliant.
If you’re not a fan of swearing then the drag race is not for you, but I would encourage you to watch it, partly for the spectacle of the drag that the queens produce, but also because among the hilarious edits of ‘throwing shade’ and awkward silences, there are moments when the queens open up about their lives and what they’ve been through to get to be who they really are.
So there’s a short list… who are your #inspiringwomen? Let me know in the comments below.