Happy International Women’s Day to all of the powerful women in our lives. Today we celebrate YOU, your stories and all of your accomplishments in addition to all the amazing women that have paved the way. From Coco Chanel to Tracee Ellis Ross, each woman below is a testament to the phrase, “Where there’s a WOMAN, there’s a way.” With courage, strength, love and a bit of ingenuity, these women overcame life’s challenges to transform our culture and the world.
1. "It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody." - Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s poems are tremendous — but it’s her longer autobiographical works that truly showcase her courage and how strong this brilliant woman truly was. Her seven autobiographies, beginning with "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," reveal her commitment to authenticity and vulnerability — the hallmarks of true strength. Angelou overcame trauma to become one of America’s most treasured and prolific creators. She teaches us one of life’s greatest lessons: that forgiveness isn’t something you exclusively offer to others — it is the greatest gift that people can give themselves.
2. “When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.” - Madonna
Madonna has epitomized strength and ambition since the day she made her first TV appearance on "American Bandstand" in 1984, where she prophetically told Dick Clark that her dream was “to rule the world.” Despite incredibly humble beginnings, including losing her mother at a young age and moving to NYC to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer with only $35 in her pocket, she certainly has ruled the pop music world and beyond. This quote is the simple secret to her success: she listens to her needs and honors them. In turn, she’s captured our attention for four decades and counting (with no signs of stopping in sight).
3. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” - Coco Chanel
What you probably already know about Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel is that she launched one of the most coveted fashion brands in the world. What you probably don’t know is that she found the strength growing up in an orphanage to get there. She is credited with several notable firsts in the fashion industry, including liberating women from the constricting fashion of the time (hello Chanel suits, instead of corsets!) and was also the first designer to put her own name on a bottle of perfume (Chanel No. 5). Norms or precedent didn’t define or limit her. She thought for herself – aloud. How's that for an incredible woman?
4. “The challenge is not to be perfect... it’s to be whole.” - Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda has worn many hats — from broadway, TV and film actor to activist to fitness guru. Now in her self-proclaimed “third act,” she is candidly sharing about overcoming her quest for perfection to achieve the ultimate strength a woman can possess: wholeness. Her inspirational quote for womankind reflects that. For Fonda, wholeness has a dual meaning: first, in being whole without being defined by a partner (a realization she achieved after splitting from her husband, Ted Turner) and second, in accepting and loving your body (an important shift, as she struggled with an eating disorder for decades). When we relinquish the need for perfectionism and instead see ourselves through a lens of gratitude, our strength is amplified.
5. "The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs… to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect.” - Joan Didion
Joan Didion, an esteemed American journalist and writer, wrote this quote in her piece for Vogue, “Self-respect, its source, its power,” in 1961. The story behind the piece reveals so much about the woman who wrote it. Although she was in her early twenties and fresh out of college, Joan managed to craft a perfect essay on self-respect when the magazine’s original writer failed to deliver and the piece was sent to print. Self-respect is one of her defining characteristics, and perhaps why she was able to transform the tragedies she endured later in her life into two of the most exquisitely evocative memoirs you’ll ever read, "The Year of Magical Thinking" and "Blue Nights." When we take responsibility for ourselves, we fuel self-respect and in turn, empower ourselves. The first step to getting there is to work on self-reflection — which is definitely on the to-do list for 2018.
6. "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." - Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe is regarded as one of the most successful female artists — ever. Her work is so audacious and brave it’s hard to imagine her being fearful at all, let alone all the time. A closer look at her life reveals many events that would have debilitated another. From financial hardships to mental and physical illness, O’Keeffe remained steadfast in her commitment to her art — a commitment she made at ten-years-old when she decided to become an artist.
Even if she took time away from painting, she always returned to it. Even when she lost her eyesight and could no longer paint, she turned to pottery as her new form of self-expression. The most powerful aspect of this statement is that it doesn’t promote fearlessness. She promotes perseverance despite fear. That is the epitome of true strength and the best motivation you can offer yourself.
7. “Women speaking up for themselves and for those around them is the strongest force we have to change the world.” - Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and simply put, she takes philanthropy to the next level. Whereas many who reach her level of financial success are content cementing their legacies by putting their names on buildings, this aspirational leader's current goals are grander: to unlock the potential of women and girls everywhere. After nearly 20 years of leading the Gates Foundation, which is dedicated to eradicating poverty and global health problems, Melinda has narrowed her focus to women and girls specifically because she believes it’s the best investment to fight poverty.
8. “My life is mine.” - Tracee Ellis Ross
Actor Tracee Ellis Ross is a muse and role model for women everywhere (especially us). At the 2018 Glamour Women of the Year Summit, Ross shared an intimate, passionate speech about her life as a single 45-year-old woman without kids. Despite her success, Ross shared that for many, she is not perceived as enough or whole. She adopted this mantra, “My life is mine,” as a means for reclaiming herself, and putting herself first, without apology. She continued in the speech to explain what it means to put yourself first as, “Speaking up, sleeping with who we want, eating what our bodies intuitively tell us to eat, wearing training bras instead of push-up bras.” When you start thinking of your life as your own, then the world truly does become your oyster. If you don’t believe the power in this ideology, simply take a look at Tracee’s Instagram. We're so proud that she is part of our movement and wears her Self Love Pinky Ring as a symbol of her commitment to loving herself.
Today, we celebrate all of these inspiring women, all the women that came before us and all the women that are shaping our future as we speak. While our future isn’t always certain, what is certain is that self love and sisterhood is going to change the world. Send some love to all of the powerful women in your lives today and most importantly, remember to celebrate the tremendous woman that you are!