The Parthenon

Filed under COLUMN, OPINION

Rosie the Riveter a timeless example that strength is beautiful

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With a polka dotted red headband and a blue work shirt perfectly rolled to expose a flex, Rosie The Riveter, a feminist icon, has taught me and so many others that ‘we can do it.’

The first time I saw Rosie The Riveter, I was in 5th grade when my older sister came home from a day of learning about World War II. Her papers scattered across a table, my gaze locked into Rosie’s. Living in a strict, conservative family, seeing a woman portrayed as a strong figure was abnormal, yet, completely natural to me. As a kid, I had always steered away from the dainty, “pretty” side of being a female. When my sister was straightening her hair, I was outside climbing trees, watching my dad fix a car or playing in mud. It was frowned upon for a girl like me to want to do what the boys were doing. But seeing this woman, with her curved eyebrow and flexed muscle, was telling me that I could do what the boys were doing. The guilt of not wanting to be ‘girly’ was gone and my 10-year-old eyes were inspired.

On Jan. 22, the original inspiration for this icon, Naomi Parker Fraley, passed away at the age of 96. For some reason, I had never thought of Rosie as a real person. To me, she was a fictional character that an artist created to inspire, but to have found a woman who was already in that mind set made everything I have felt and believe in more tangible. While researching her death, it hit me that this poster was created only 74 years ago.

Women who were alive during World War II and present day are probably more exhausted than ever. We are still fighting, marching, and shouting in 2018 and have been for the past 200 years. Her death has pushed my young, feminist heart to do greater things; not only for myself, but for the 10-year-old girls, who are still being taught that their role in this lifetime is strictly limited to house chores and motherhood.

Naomi, a grandmother in this family of strong women helped create a cornerstone in womanhood. Rosie The Riveter, taught me that I can do it—and Naomi, I will do it. Your legacy will live on and I will tell all of the little girls in my life of the first woman who taught me that being strong is pretty and that anything boys can do, I can do, too.

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