Last year, one of my favorite posts that I wrote was 17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017. I decided to keep the trend going this year. Once again, I listed only women who were publicly known for some reason. I also made things harder for myself by not including any women from last year’s list (I’m sorry, Nikki Haley). The 18 women listed below inspired and encouraged me last year, and continue to do so.
- Meghan Markle
Let me be clear: I do not find Meghan Markle inspiring because she married a prince and had the greatest wedding ever. The Duchess of Sussex has inspired me because she has used her influence, both as an actress before her wedding, and now with her new status as a princess, to make a difference. She has spoken out about worthy causes, she has joined Prince Harry and his family in their charitable work, and she has broken royal protocol by wearing dark nail polish. That is what makes someone a true princess.
“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.”
- Lauren Daigle
I don’t know if you all noticed, but Lauren took over the music industry last year. She had an album that reached the top of the iTunes charts, and a song that came very close to doing the same. She has performed on multiple television shows, including The Tonight Show and Dancing with the Stars. Her music has been praised by everyone from Keith Urban to Selena Gomez. Oh, and she’s a Christian music artist. Yes, Lauren Daigle has been successful and won awards, but she’s done it while singing songs about her faith and keeping none of the glory for herself. She is, in my opinion, one of the best examples we could have in today’s world.
“I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are supposed to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God.”
- Aly Raisman
Ally was one of multiple gymnasts abused by former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. She has not only been vocal in her condemnation of Nassar, but she has also spoken out against USAG and has become a strong advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Ally has inspired so many through her athletic abilities and strong representation of her country in competitions. Now she is taking on a new role, and people everywhere are taking notice.
“You can’t always be the best. You have to remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.”
- Keala Settle
If you have not seen The Greatest Showman…your life must be really sad…just kidding. But, if you haven’t, then you probably don’t know that Keala played Lettie, the bearded lady, and sang the film’s breakout song, “This Is Me.” Keala has lifted so many through this song, all while fighting a dangerous neurological condition that almost ruined her Oscars performance. But, true to form, she fought through it. This song, and, by extension, Keala, have truly encouraged me.
“I love people that go the distance. I hate things that are lukewarm. They’ve got to be one way or the other and go all the way.”
- Abby Sams
Abby was part of one of Aerie’s #AerieReal modeling campaigns, which put young women with disabilities in the spotlight. Among other medical conditions, Abby has POTS, which I have as well. Seeing someone like me model? That was a huge moment for me (that possibly involved some tears). I am forever grateful to both Aerie and Abby for showing the world that disabilities can’t stop you.
“We are made for change. Face it boldly and bravely. You’ve got this and God’s got you. There is nothing to fear in that.”
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“You can’t spell truth without Ruth.” I’ve been an admirer of RBG’s for a while now, but in 2018 I became a full-on fangirl (of a SCOTUS justice, yes) when I wrote a paper on the Lily Ledbetter case and the resulting Fair Pay Act, all of which Justice Ginsburg had a hand in. Throw in an amazing documentary, and I had a new hero. Quite simply, Ruth was fighting for my rights decades before I was born, and this country would be lightyears behind where it is today without her tireless fight for gender equality.
“When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?’ and I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
- Carrie Underwood
I mean, Carrie Underwood is kind of a queen, if you hadn’t noticed. Last year, she opened up about her concerns about her ability to have more children as she got older, only to later reveal the fantastic news that she was pregnant again. Her vulnerability and honesty were remarkable. If that wasn’t enough, she released a new album, Cry Pretty, featuring the songs “Love Wins” and “The Bullet,” offering a sobering reminder to both sides of the aisle for the need for change and compassion.
“If I can convince [people] that there is a God and that they need to know Him, then I have done my job.”
- Michelle Obama
I can’t explain it, I just love Mrs. Obama. Her rawness and honesty have been refreshing. She has brought humor and levity during a time when we are in desperate need of it. I was particularly inspired by her rejection of the concept of “leaning in” – that, in her opinion, it is simply not possible to have it all, all at once. She may be a former first lady, but I think she may just be one of us too.
“There is no magic to achievement. It’s really about hard work, choices, and persistence.”
9 & 10. Savannah Guthrie & Hoda Kotb
Okay, this might technically be cheating, since I’m including two women together, but anyone who has seen the Today Show recently can’t deny that Savannah and Hoda are a packaged deal. After the firing of Matt Lauer, Hoda began filling in as co-anchor alongside Savannah, and it was clear they were the perfect team. So, NBC decided to make things permanent, making the Today Show the first morning show to be anchored by two women. Savannah and Hoda are fun, witty, and have a great connection that endears them to viewers. Yes, women definitely can win at broadcast journalism.
“I would never put my job before my family.” – Savannah
“If we all helped one person, wouldn’t the world be an unbelievable place?” – Hoda
- Taylor Swift
Look what you made her do. I’ve been a fan of Taylor since I was, like…seven. Those are some pretty deep ties right there. But something about her latest album, reputation, just spoke to me. It was powerful. It was game-changing. It was a fifteen-song package of everything I needed to hear. In addition to her music, Taylor has continued to show that she is closely connected to her fans. She also released the greatest concert film of all time that had me screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs in my living room.
“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”
- Tori Foles
Tori is married to former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Tori also has POTS. Since the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, she and her husband have spoken at several events to spread awareness for POTS. Nick has also been involved in raising money for Dysautonomia International. Seeing someone live with the same illness I have and work to help more people understand it has truly inspired me.
“I love that my body is unique and unlike any other. God made all of us as one of a kind and that is pretty cool.”
- Jenna Bush Hager
I have loved watching Jenna on the Today Show for several years now, but in 2018 she truly took center stage as her job forced her to work as somewhat of a media liaison for her family after the passing of both of her grandparents. Jenna showed grace and strength in the face of both of these tragedies, both as a public personality, and as a granddaughter. I continue to admire her and many members of her family.
“I hope to focus on what I’m passionate about because I think I’d do the best job on them – education, urban education, women and children’s issues and literacy.”
- Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay is a director. And she’s kind of a big deal. In 2018, she directed the film adaption of A Wrinkle in Time. This film, along with Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, gave the box office its first weekend with films by African American directors holding the top two spots. She also created the OWN series Queen Sugar, which has been completely directed by women. Aside from these huge accomplishments, Ava has shared nuggets of wisdom (and political opinions) across social media. She is certainly leading the charge for women, in more ways than one.
“If your dream is only about you, it’s too small.”
- Annie F. Downs
Annie is a Christian writer and speaker. In 2018, I completed her 100 Days to Brave devotional. It had a huge impact on me, and affected me much more than I expected. Annie’s writing is beautiful and relatable, and she is a joy to follow on social media. I’m so glad that I let her be a part of my journey in 2018.
“Something about today is worth noticing and celebrating, because it won’t last forever. I hope you find it.”
- Hallie Jackson
Hallie Jackson is NBC’s chief White House correspondent. Basically, she’s the one who stands near the White House reporting on the day’s events on the Nightly News. She’s also the one who shouts questions at the president during press briefings, and she doesn’t shy away from tough ones. (For example, she asked President Trump why his cabinet members were set to receive a raise while other federal government employees were still not being paid due to the recent government shutdown.) Although I may be interested in print journalism, I love Hallie and her reporting style, and she has certainly helped shape my opinions on journalism.
“Yes, I know I talk too fast.”
- Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves is a country singer-songwriter. In 2018, she released her critically-acclaimed album Golden Hour, which ended up on many best-of-the-year lists (including my mental one, which is basically as important as NPR’s). She received a CMA Award for Album of the Year, as well as multiple Grammy wins, including for the competitive Album of the Year category. Golden Hour is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting country music albums to be released in quite some time, and shows that Kacey truly is unique in the best way.
“Just do something that makes you stand out. Even if not everyone likes it, just do it.”
- Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. As if being a female world leader wasn’t enough, last year she became only the second sitting major world leader to give birth while in office. She has chosen to continue working, meaning the baby will stay at home with her daddy, who is happy to allow Prime Minister Ardern to continue running the world – or at least part of it.
“I never, ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.”