10 women throughout history who have inspired my life and the way I live it

10 influential women in history who have made the most difference in my life

10 women throughout history who have inspired my life and the way I live it

It’s all women all the time in this column, but in honor of Women’s History Month, I am searching deep inside my soul to come up with a list of 10 influential women in history who have made the most difference in my life through their contributions to society.

1. Elizabeth I

Every since I first read her “Speech to the Troops at Tilbury” I have been obsessed with Elizabeth I. She was just so confident and eloquent that I was completely convinced. She set the tone in my life for realizing that it is what is inside that makes you successful and not your gender with the quote I will never forget: “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.”

2. Frida Kahlo

Kahlo has been my go-to inspiration for loving myself just the way I am ever since I was first introduced to her art. The fact that she isn’t considered a traditional beauty now nor was she in her time and she focused her art around self-portraits is perfect to me. Her art is a constant reminder that women can’t judge each other or themselves by beauty standards.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.”

— Elizabeth I

3. Flannery O’Connor

O’Connor is a woman whose writing doesn’t apologize for being honest, and that is what struck me immediately about her. Her writing made me think, and I admired her ballsy attitude toward tackling big issues in her prose. She was one of the many female writers who guided my own journey into story-telling.

4. Rosa Parks

This one is probably obvious since Parks’s contribution to society that inspired me inspired the entire country at the time and today, but she is still worth mentioning as her unfailing strength and bravery is something I have to constantly remind myself of. On a smaller scale, I could stand to channel Parks every single day of my life.

5. Lee Smith

Reading Smith’s novels “Fair and Tender Ladies” and “Oral History” back-to-back was a transformative time in my life. I had never before read Appalachian literature that felt so close to my own life. Her characters were so real to me that I felt I had to absorb everything Smith has ever written in order to better understand my own life.

6. Marilyn Monroe

This one might be obvious too, but Monroe impacted me just as much as she did everyone else. Her ability to curate an image and be this person that was the epitome of beauty and sexuality with such a driven personality is almost impossible not to admire.

7. Janis Joplin

When it comes to style, talent and being you Joplin has got it all. She taught me some valuable lessons in not giving a damn. I could use a couple more to let go of my control-freak ways and live life the free, fun Janis-way, but I am better for having been influenced by her.

8. Ina May Gaskin

Another transformative time in my life was reading “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” and realizing that everything that had ever freaked me out about the process of giving birth was entirely related to my idea of a hospital birth, and I could avoid it all. I have since become an advocate for natural birth and midwife rights.

9. Toni Morrison

Everything she writes is golden. She is another author who writes characters so vivid and so life-like that I can see parts of myself in them. To have written so many novels and each of them be as powerful and inspired as the last is a true gift, one that I hope I have gained in appreciating her.

10. Eve Ensler

More accurately, “The Vagina Monologues” inspired and informed my life in ways that many other performances have not. Having had the opportunity to perform in Ensler’s version once and participate in productions inspired by hers have helped me to get my story out in the world and hopefully make other people feel less alone and maybe even empowered.

So that’s it, 10 women who have inspired my life in some way, shape or form. I could probably think of a million more (especially if I included fictional characters) but I will leave you with these for now.

Jocelyn Gibson can be contacted at [email protected]