17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017

17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017

2017 was the year of the woman. Ladies fought back. And they fought back hard. I’m proud to be a woman, and to have been inspired by these amazing, fierce women. It was so hard to narrow down this list, and there are so many others I wish I could have included. But, here, in no particular order, are seventeen women who inspired me this year…

{Note: This list is comprised of women that are in the spotlight and have some sphere of influence. There are certainly plenty of women I know personally who inspire me every day, but I felt that this would be a bit more relatable for us all.}

  1. Gal Gadot

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I think I’ve told everyone and their mother how much I love Wonder Woman by now. It was the movie I never knew I needed. But it was more than that. She is the hero I never knew I needed. And Gal Gadot really is Wonder Woman. So, I guess that makes her the hero I never knew I needed. This Israeli actress not only slayed her role (she filmed part of Justice League while pregnant), but she has continuously reiterated the fact that Wonder Woman’s strength is based in her warmth and compassion. I couldn’t agree more. Bonus fun fact: She also served in the Israeli military. Yeah, she’s the real deal.

“I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it’s a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let’s own who we are and use it as a strength.”

  1. Rachel Platten

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I honestly don’t know why I find Rachel Platten so inspiring. I just do. You know how you feel like some musicians are just there for you? That’s how I feel about Rachel. Her first single, “Fight Song,” is kind of my everything, and her first album blew me away. With lyrics like “I’m gonna dance on broken glass, and I’m gonna make that ceiling crash” and “You’re on the ground and I’m climbing mountains,” it’s safe to say I feel the same way about her second album. Her connection to and interaction with her fans is incredible, and by partnering with organizations like I Am That Girl and the Girl Scouts of America, she’s just spreading the girl power.

“Won’t change for you or no one else making me feel I’m not enough when I am.”

  1. Susan Collins

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Senator Susan Collins is one of my favorite people on the Hill. Her conservative-yet-moderate stance aligns perfectly with my own political views, and she has fought against some of the worst bills that the Senate has tried to pass this year (*cough*healthcare*cough*). I admire her courage and strength. She is certainly no longer just the obscure, unknown senator from Maine. This year, she has been strong and courageous, and has refused to back down under pressure.

“What I find is with all due deference to…our male colleagues, that women’s styles tend to be more collaborative.”

  1. Victoria Arlen

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I had never heard of Victoria Arlen before watching her on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars. Now a commentator for ESPN, Arlen previously competed in the Paralympics. This was after she was diagnosed with a rare disorder that rendered her immobile and unable to function on her own. After being confined to a wheelchair for years, she was able to learn how to walk again. Because of the severe health challenges she experienced, she is still unable to feel her legs. That didn’t stop her from making it to fourth place on DWTS. Hearing her story and watching her dances, particularly from “Most Memorable Year” night, in which she came to grips with her relationship with her wheelchair, I was so encouraged, and reminded that my chronic illnesses can’t stop me.

“Rock your disability.”

  1. Ashley Graham

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Ashley Graham is a model. She is also not a size two. This has not stopped her from rising to prominence in the modeling industry, and she has inspired girls everywhere in the process. Ashley is real. She looks like me, or that girl down the street, or maybe even you. The best part is that she has embraced her size and the way it sets her apart from other models, and is constantly working to spread positivity and empower other women.

“I refuse to let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comfort. And neither should you.”

  1. Dana Loesch

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Dana is a former anchor for Glenn Beck’s network, The Blaze. She is currently a Fox News contributor and hosts her own radio show. Because of her conservative beliefs, she has been threatened multiple times on social media. Things escalated so badly that she and her family actually had to move for their safety. Through it all, she has refused to back down or allow her critics to silence her. The strength she has shown through all of this has been amazing, and I have found plenty of courage through her own.

“I pledge allegiance to God and country, not God and party.”

  1. Lady Gaga

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Okay, I would not necessarily call Lady Gaga a good role model. However, I had to include her in this list for how she has spoken out about chronic illness this year. She has been open about her struggle with chronic pain, and has brought awareness to fibromyalgia, a condition that is often brushed off as being nothing and all in one’s head, despite the fact that I and millions of others can confirm it is very, very real. For that, I say hats off to Gaga.

“No matter how much success you have, no matter how many opportunities, fame, fortune, no matter how many accept you to your face, the person that really needs to accept you is you.”

  1. Al Fox Carraway

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If you don’t recognize Al’s name, perhaps you know her as the “Tattooed Mormon.” Al was living in New York when a pair of missionaries found her and began teaching her about the gospel. Despite severe opposition from her family, friends, and coworkers, she became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And she started blogging about it. Her blog basically exploded, making her a household name within the Church. I was so inspired by her book, More than the Tattooed Mormon, and her social media posts seem to always pop up right when I need them. Her blog was one of my biggest inspirations for starting my own. Al is considered by many to not be a “conventional” or “traditional” member of the Church because of her tattoos, and I like that. Because of my health, I have been unable to follow the same path as many other youth in the Church, but Al has shown me that being a little different is definitely okay.

“This exact second, God is mindful of you.”

  1. Emma Watson

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Truthfully, I think Emma Watson has always been Belle to me. Emma began her acting career portraying Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. Although I have loved reading all of my life, Harry Potter changed everything for me, and so did Hermione. I truly feel that she was the first literary character I ever identified with, someone who taught me to be brave, but to be proud of my intelligence. That is where my love for Emma began. Since then, she has truly become one of my heroes, working as an ambassador for UN Women and speaking out for gender equality. This year, my dreams came true when my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, was released in a live-action version. Emma played Belle, but she was a new Belle, a defiant, intelligent Belle who earnestly sought more for herself. There’s nothing more that I could have asked for.

“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.”

  1. Selena Gomez

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I was first a Selena fan during her Disney days, but after those days were over, I kind of didn’t care anymore. But things started to change recently. Selena released better music, spoke out with the purpose of empowering young women, and shared her lupus diagnosis with the world. I was quite literally in awe of her courage; I don’t like to talk about my diagnoses with people I know. After having to cancel part of a tour, Selena got even more personal: she talked about the effect that physical health conditions have on your mental health. This year, all while releasing new songs, Selena found out her lupus had caused her to go into kidney failure. She was in desperate need of a transplant, but no one was a match – until her best friend, fellow actress, and roommate Francia Raisa was tested. She was a match, and agreed to the operation without hesitation. Selena has continually praised her friend for saving her life, and for being the real hero in this story.

“I would do anything to be able to have a good influence on this generation.”

  1. Nikki Haley

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I am so proud of our country’s first female president! (Just kidding…actually, no, I’m not.) After being one of the best governor’s South Carolina has ever had, Haley left the Palmetto State to become the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She has reminded the world of who the U.S. is and what we have done. Most recently, after a vote showing contempt against the United States for choosing to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, she gave a stirring speech condemning those who voted against us, threatening to revoke American funding of the UN, and assuring fellow member nations that we were indeed taking names. Ambassador Haley is the very definition of the term “girl boss.”

“There is no war on women. Women are doing well. But women are thoughtful. And what we in the Republican Party and across the country, Republican, Independents and Democrat women say is we’re more thoughtful than a label. We care about jobs and the economy and healthcare and education. We care about a lot of different things.”

  1. Lindsey Stirling

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Lindsey is a member of the LDS Church. She is also a world famous violinist, combining the sounds of EDM with an instrument meant for classical music. Her eclectic sound has taken her to the top of the charts and on world tours, but she has never lost her standards. She competed on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars, coming in second with her pro partner Mark Ballas. During the show, she was careful to dress as modestly as possible and stay away from inappropriate dance moves. She was like a living example of being in the world, but not of the world. Watching her on the show was a true inspiration to me, as an LDS woman.

“Be kind to the people around you. You will never feel better about yourself as a result of demeaning, bullying, or dragging others down.”

  1. Manal al-Sharif

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I recently finished reading Manal’s book, Daring to Drive, and I have decided that she is an absolutely incredible person. Manal is Saudi Arabian. During her childhood, she suffered abuse from her parents and siblings, which is typical in Saudi households. However, her mother was insistent that she and her sister get a good education. So, Manal went to college and majored in computer science. She then got a job at Aramco, the largest Saudi oil company. Aramco employees live inside of the Aramco compound, where things are completely different from the rest of Saudi Arabia. She also spent time working for Aramco in the U.S., where she learned to drive and got a driver’s license. She began to question many Saudi beliefs, especially the ban on women driving. One day, a coworker informed her that a woman driving is not actually illegal, it just goes against tradition. Armed with this information, Manal helped plan an event for women to drive, spoke to the foreign press, and drove herself – and got arrested for it. She spent time in a women’s prison for doing something that was not actually illegal, and was not released until her father appealed to the king of Saudi Arabia in person. Now, women are “allowed” to drive in Saudi Arabia. But without pioneers like Manal, where would they be?

“The rain begins with a single drop.”

  1. Meghan McCain

meghan

Meghan is a political commentator who worked for Fox News before quitting and becoming the token conservative host on The View. She is also the daughter of Senator John McCain from Arizona, who was diagnosed with brain cancer this year. Her bravery in the face of this trial has been incredible. She has become an advocate for brain cancer patients everywhere. She has also fired back when anyone, including the President, has said anything negative about her father, a POW during the Vietnam War. And, of course, she has kept her sassy conservative-mixed-with-libertarian political views through it all.

“Pain is real, so is hope…stay strong for me and I will stay strong for you.”

  1. Jordan Lee Dooley

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Jordan is a Christian blogger who has gained quite the following on social media. But she has made one thing very clear: her life is messy, just like yours. She also coined the phrase “Your brokenness is welcome here,” which has created somewhat of a movement on social media. Jordan was one of the first Christian bloggers I followed, and has been one of my biggest inspirations for blogging. Her sweet, spirit-filled words always seem to hold the perfect reminders, and her growing popularity has not changed her one bit.

“The struggle may be real, but the struggle is also redeemable.”

  1. Josie Thompson Solomon

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Josie is LDS, and an activist. She started the 444 Project, which works to spread the gospel in other countries. She also suffers from bipolar disorder. I have followed her story for a while now, and I have been so inspired by her persistence despite the fact that she admits it can be hard to feel happiness at all. However, her bipolar diagnosis never fully explained all of the symptoms she was experiencing. This year, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. As it had gone untreated for quite some time, it was bad, and she had to begin undergoing harsh, intense treatment that made her feel even worse. With the help of her husband and staff, the 444 Project has continued, and, of course, so has Josie.

“You don’t have to be healed to help.”

  1. The Women of the #MeToo Movement

me too

Whether you are famous (Rose McGowan leading the charge against Harvey Weinstein, or Taylor Swift countersuing a disgruntled deejay for $1) or not, whether you were harassed or assaulted, thank you. I cannot relate to your experiences, and I hope I never will, but I am endlessly inspired by you. There has always been an underlying tone of sexism and gender inequality in this country, but you have exposed that the problems go far deeper than men thinking they are better, or making offhand remarks to a woman about her inferiority. You are the heroes this year. Although there are men who tried to take it all from you, you have been the ones to emerge victorious. Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for enduring the doubters and the shamers. Thank you for being you.

“This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dokterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards for Time Magazine

Bonus: My Mother & My Grandmother

lunchhh

I know that I said that I wouldn’t put anyone on this list that I know personally, but I had to include these two very special women. I have always said that I come from a long line of strong women. Because of them, I have become the brave, independent woman I am today. Their compassion and strength have taught me more than any of these other women combined, and I am eternally grateful for them.

 

{Credits: Glamour Magazine | Brainy Quote | Rachel Platten | Senator Susan Collins | Brainy Quote | New York Times | Pinterest | Old Navy | Brit & Co. | Pinterest | Pinterest |Pinterest | Health | Al Fox’s Head | Kensie Kate | Buzzfeed | Who What Wear | Pinterest | Elle | Nikki Haley | Brainy Quote | Glamour | Pinterest | Daily Mail | Goodreads | Meghan McCain | SoulScripts | Deseret News | YouTube | Time}

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Heal Our Land

Heal Our Land

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Oh, Charlottesville. What have you done?

In case you are quite literally living under a rock (because there is no other way you could not know about this), last Saturday there was a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. This rally consisted of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. David Duke was there. Members of the media were attacked. Three people were killed, two of them police officers. It was a grisly affair.

Grisly though it was, my eyes were opened, literally and figuratively. It was as though I was finally seeing something I had refused to see my entire my life. I have certainly never been naïve enough to believe that racism ended with a bill signed and only one drinking fountain. But I didn’t see it like this. I didn’t realize that I don’t know what it’s like to be black, and to have your entire race oppressed, and to know that your ancestors were sold into slavery. I never, ever will. And I am sorry that for years I pretended that I did know or it didn’t matter or it was part of the past. I see now that I was wrong.

Racism is wrong. There is no way to turn that statement around any other way. White supremacy is wrong.  Nazism is wrong. (I would have thought we would have established that by now. We kind of fought a war over it. A lot of people got involved. It was pretty intense.) Any type of hate or prejudice is wrong and it inherently goes against the Savior and His teachings.

“We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

– Senator Orrin Hatch

I truly believe that one of Satan’s biggest and most effective tools is division. Division breeds hate and fear. Without unity, nothing can be accomplished. There can be no progress. There can be no living the way we have been commanded to.

“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”

– Mosiah 18:21

There is no excuse for this. Jesus did not set conditions on who we should love. He did not die to redeem only certain people. Aren’t we supposed to follow Him and His example? Because right now it seems like we’re doing a pretty bad job of it.

“I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

– Doctrine & Covenants 38:27

Why is this so hard? Why is love so hard and hate so easy? Why is our society falling into an endless spiral of labels, antagonism, judgment, and blame? When did America, the greatest country in the world turn to violence as a common way to express opinions? If you ask me, that is the definition of barbarism.

We are living in an evil world. It’s becoming worse every day. And it’s going to keep getting worse until the Savior returns. As everything crumbles around us, we have a choice to make. Do we want to live the way He wants us to? Do we want Him to find us doing His work? Or do we want to go with the current and let emotions lead us to making bad decisions?

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.”

– 1 John 4:18

On a personal note, as a white conservative, I would like to apologize. What happened on Saturday was not the work of conservatives, regardless of what participants may claim. I for one will not judge you based on your skin color or your ethnicity or your religion or whatever else makes you you. And I know a whole lot of white conservatives who feel exactly the same way.

“So God we pray to you / Humble ourselves again / Lord, would You hear our cry? / Lord, will You heal our land?”

– “Heal Our Land” by Kari Jobe

The Hope for Health Care

The Hope for Health Care

You may have heard about a little, low key health care bill that Republicans tried to pass in the Senate. And there’s a pretty good chance that if you have, you’ve heard some half-truths or blatant lies.

Right now you might be thinking, “Wow Mary-Faith, I thought you were a conservative! How could you be saying something like this about a Republican bill?”

To answer your shocked question, I consider myself to be a conservative-leaning independent. I am not tied down to any political party, and I do not particularly support one. But more than that, I have chronic illnesses. I am a walking, talking preexisting condition. Health care and insurance are big deals to me.

Politics. Isn’t. Everything. Yes, I of all people said that. Let it sink in. Our Founding Fathers didn’t really want politics (or pretty much anything) to happen this way, but that’s a story for another day.

I have emailed my senators. I received responses I was not satisfied with. To be honest, I’m not quite sure either of them even read what I had to say. My leaders that were elected to represent me did not listen to me. They chose their party. And that choice has weighed heavily on me ever since it came to light for me.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is messed up. But it is saving lives. It is providing Medicaid to those who desperately need health coverage. It is providing Medicare to the elderly. It is working for those with preexisting conditions. And this new bill will change that drastically, if not take it away completely.

That is not okay with me.

This is not about me. Yes, I am concerned about what could happen to my coverage. I am more concerned about people who have life-threatening diseases, who cannot work because of their illness, who could lose everything – including their lives.

So Republican senators, I am begging you to listen to us. I am begging you to consider your life on this new health care plan instead of on your over-the-top-with-protection government coverage plan. Picture yourself living like your constituents. Picture yourself living the lives of the “little people.” And if that doesn’t affect you, picture what could happen to your party at midterm elections. Think of the political repercussions passing a bad bill could have.

Think of people like me, who pay thousands of dollars in medical bills, even with insurance coverage. We are counting on you. We depend on you.

To Senators Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Mike Lee, and Jerry Moran, thank you for killing the Senate’s first attempt at this bill before there was even a vote. Thank you for taking step one. But now we need step two. We need the entire senate – not just Republicans – to come together and build and work and plan. We need bipartisan creation of a bill that will work for everyone. Because how can something work for everyone when half of the Senate is shut out? How can people’s actual lives be worth partisan wins and gloating? That should not even be a question that I have to ask.

So, senators, as you work to repeal and replace Obamacare, a plan that seemed to be failing completely until you actually introduced something just as bad if not worse, don’t think about your party or proving how much better you are than your colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Think about the people who put you in office – the same people whose support for you may be quickly waning.

Making America Great Again?

Making America Great Again?

America is in an interesting stage right now. We’re on the cusp of something – whether or not it is greatness remains to be seen.

I don’t know who you voted for. I personally have never been a Trump or Clinton supporter. I was absolutely terrified of a Clinton presidency, and terrified-but-slightly-less-so of a Trump presidency. Because of this, what I felt when it became clear that Donald Trump had defied the odds and won the presidency was something a little bit like happiness. In the weeks since then, I have not necessarily felt upset. It has been more of a state of neutrality for me. Much like I did not have a strong opinion on whether or not I wanted Trump to win, I now do not have a strong opinion on him actually winning.

Today, while reading my Western Civilization textbook, I felt a very strong sense of fear over the future – perhaps my first time feeling fear since the end of this crazy election cycle. I couldn’t push aside the thought that maybe, just maybe history was repeating itself in the worst way possible. I finally felt, and, to a certain degree, still feel that fear that everyone seems to be seized by. So, where do we go from here?

We do what we’ve always done. We continue trusting. We trust that no matter who is in the White House, the entire world is in our Heavenly Father’s hands. We remember that we have made it through every difficult situation we have faced before (in terms of the entire country, that includes a colonial revolution, a civil war, a financial crisis to rival all others, two world wars, terrorist attacks, and, admittedly, some crazy people in Washington over the years). We choose faith over fear, and keep choosing it.

The future is unknown. But how exciting is that? How exciting is it that we are at the beginning of something new and different? How exciting is it that we live in a country that allows us to make decisions? How exciting is it that we have the freedom to make something a little bit scary happen? This is not a time for worry. This is a time for optimism. The world has not ended yet, and until that happens, we have the ability to wake up every day and live our lives to the fullest. The world is very messed up right now, but we have men and women who are willing to make sacrifices to take on the responsibility of leading us on.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Most importantly, we have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love us. They planned the creation of this incredible country for the purpose of the restoration of the gospel. They blessed us with men who could build this country upon a firm foundation. They have led us to this point. So, why should we be afraid of the future? The Founding Fathers faced the great unknown head on, and fought a war to win this country. Maybe this is our war, fought through words and ideas. Maybe this is our time. And if it is, what a waste fear would be.

So, no, I don’t know who you voted for. But, the majority of Americans voted for change. They voted for a new direction. And I respect that. I respect that Donald Trump has not done one single thing as our president yet. While I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with many of his actions of the past, he has not yet had a chance to show us what kind of leader he will be. So why are we fearing and hating and breaking when we don’t even know? Why not wait? How many presidents have said that they would do things during their campaigns that they never did? (Answer: All of them. And they were promising things much better than walls.)

Enjoy these last few months of relative stability. Celebrate the successes of down-ballot candidates that you did support. Prepare for literal history to be made shortly. And love. Love everyone, even if they voted for someone you don’t like, or they hate your candidate, or they do things that you disagree with. Love them even if they hate you. Don’t cause the problems that the president-elect has been accused of creating himself. Show people that division is pointless. And wait.

“Notwithstanding the trouble, notwithstanding the argument, notwithstanding the increasingly heavy hand of government, notwithstanding the spirit of arrogance we so often display, notwithstanding occasional corruption in public office and betrayal of sacred trust – I marvel at the miracle of America, the land which the God of Heaven long ago declared to be a choice land. God bless America, for it is His creation.”

– Gordon B. Hinckley