19 Women Who Inspired Me in 2019

19 Women Who Inspired Me in 2019

Now that I am on my third year of writing this post (2017 |2018), I can honestly say I look forward to it every year. Looking back on the strong women who have inspired me each year is now an exciting annual tradition for me, and I am starting to see my year reflected in the women I chose. 2019 was a year full of medical difficulties for me. This list is comprised primarily of musicians and actresses because I turned to their art for solace when I needed it. However, I still made room for a politician, a pundit, an author, a yogi, and several women who do a little bit of everything. So, without further ado, here are nineteen women who inspired me in 2019…

  1. Taylor Swift

Taylor

What can I say for Taylor? Yes, she came back this year with a super successful album. She was named Artist of the Decade at the American Music Awards. She was named Woman of the Decade by Billboard. She got three Grammy nominations. That is all the Taylor Swift I have come to love, and that is also none of it. The Taylor I have come to love is the one who interacts with her fans on Tumblr and jokes in interviews about them dragging (aka roasting) her on there. It’s the one who handpicks fans to meet at special events. It’s the one who reminds her fans that what’s happening in the political environment is important for them to understand and takes on the most powerful men in the music industry. It’s the Taylor who jokes about being a cat lady and about being dressed like Paddington bear. It’s the Taylor who has had my back since I was eight, the one who taught me to “step into the daylight and let it go” and that “you are what you love.”

“I’m intimidated by the fear of being average.”

  1. Brie Larson

Brie

Brie Larson was in two little movies ya’ll might have heard of this year – Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. She plays the titular Captain Marvel, and she does a magnificent job at it. I had very high expectations for this movie, and I was satisfied with it overall. But what truly impressed me the most was Brie. Not just her acting and portrayal of the character, but the way she became an ambassador for the character. It was so clear to me that she knew what Captain Marvel meant to girls everywhere – especially little girls – and she did not take that lightly. Hearing her talk about her character and how important it was to her made the movie so much more meaningful to me.

“It’s very scary to allow the world to see you.”

  1. Maren Morris

59th Annual Grammy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 12 Feb 2017

I’ve been a fan of Maren’s since the release of her debut single “My Church” (which is actually one of my favorite songs of all time). In 2019 she released her second album, GIRL, and I was blown away. (More on that in this post.) As the title suggests, this record was very much about empowerment. (Just a few lyrics to show you what I mean: “I don’t wanna wear your crown / There’s enough to go around;” “Sometimes the truth don’t always come out nice / Just gonna do me and you don’t have to listen”) This album became a musically defining part of my year, and supporting Maren on her journey with it (all the way to a CMA Album of the Year win) couldn’t have made me prouder.

“A really big thing I’ve learned – and I think it’s so liberating – is when you realize no one knows what they’re doing.”

  1. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly

In 2019, I had the pleasure (I might even go so far as to say the honor) of seeing original American Idol, multi-Grammy winner, and new talk show host Kelly Clarkson live. Forget present-day me. Nine-year-old me, who knew every word to “Breakaway” and “Since U Been Gone,” was shaking. In preparing for the concert, I listened to Kelly even more than usual, and there is one thing I learned: Kelly Clarkson is a boss. She knows who she is. She knows she’s special. She’s not afraid to tell you that (in a totally non-egotistical way). Now multiply that by one million and you have her live show. She owns the stage. She rocks every song. She makes you cry with “Piece by Piece” and dance with “Stronger.” She is a total queen in every sense of the word, and I will never forget seeing her on that stage.

“I’ve just never cared what people think. It’s more if I’m happy and I’m confident and I’m feeling good. That’s always been my thing.”

  1. Adriene Mishler

Adriene

Adriene is the creator of Yoga with Adriene, which has become a bit of a phenomenon, with almost 6 million YouTube subscribers. I’ve been watching (and doing) Adriene’s videos for a few years now, but 2019 is the year I really go into it. The ease of being able to do yoga in the living room in my pajamas when I don’t feel like leaving the house is perfect for me, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done her Yoga for Migraines video approximately 62 times. Aside from being a fantastic yogi, Adriene is a great person with a lovely personality who encourages her viewers to find a sense of community amongst each other. She may just be on your screen, but you know she’s there for you.

“Your yoga mat has your back, and so do I.”

  1. Sabrina Carpenter

Sabrina

I just missed Sabrina Carpenter’s Disney days, but I wasn’t so old that I didn’t know who she was. I became a big fan of her music in 2018 when she released Singular Act I, but when she dropped Act II in 2019, I was in full-on stan mode. She used this album as an opportunity to open up about her struggle with anxiety on songs like “In My Bed” (“Little things become everything / When you wouldn’t think that they would”) and “Exhale” (“Can I exhale for a minute? / Can I get this out in the open? / Can I sit down for a second? / Can I breathe?”) To top it all off, following Sabrina on social media makes it pretty clear that she has an amazing connection with her fans. I would know – I’m one of them.

“We all have stories for a reason, and if we keep them to ourselves, I don’t feel they would help anybody.”

  1. Lauren Conrad

Lauren

Lauren Conrad basically runs an empire at this point. She has a successful lifestyle website, a podcast, an insanely popular fashion label sold at Kohl’s, works with female-run fair trade brand The Little Market…the list goes on. To me, Lauren is an incredible example of a successful businesswoman doing things on her own terms. She dabbles in everything she’s interested in, and she does it all well. She also does it all while being a mom. She just had her second son this year. She’s come a long way from her reality TV days and is showing women everywhere just how much they can do in the process.

“Go with your gut, but use your head.”

  1. Ciara

Ciara

I was a little too young for Ciara’s original golden era, but I’m very glad she has returned in full force. Her music, her charity work, and her devotion to her family have all inspired me greatly in the past year. But my favorite thing might have been her challenge to women to “Level Up” and not settle, based on her song by the same name (which I listen to entirely too much). Ciara is truly multi-talented and gifted, not just as an artist, but as a human.

“Education is everything – education is your power, education is your way in life for whatever you want to do.”

  1. Mandy Moore

Mandy

Mandy Moore is, of course, the star of the greatest television show of all-time, This Is Us. 2019 was a big year for her in ways other than playing the fabulous Rebecca Pearson. She opened up about her marriage with her abusive ex-husband Ryan Adams in a New York Times story that shook the music industry. It was through this that fans discovered why Mandy’s music career fell off the map right at its peak. But, after her triumphant acting comeback, Mandy released new music and announced plans for a new album and tour. I think she might be even more inspiring than Rebecca Pearson.

“Hope is the most exciting thing there is in life.”

  1. Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen

Ellen is just awesome. She’s my favorite, period. But in 2019, to prove how incredible she really is, she sat next to former president George W. Bush at a baseball game. After incurring a fair bit of backlash for this (how dare she sit next to another human being?!), she addressed the issue on her show, saying that she and 43 are actually friends. She then took it a step further and said what everyone needs to hear: we don’t have to agree with everyone on every single thing to get along with them and even be friends with them. Isn’t that the point, after all? I think we should all be a little more like Ellen.

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”

  1. Lauren Alaina

Lauren A

Lauren is a country musician who I’ve been a fan of for years now, but in 2019 she garnered extra attention for her time as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. On the show, she opened up about everything from weight to insecurities to everything her family gave up to help her find success. Perhaps the most inspiring part of her time on the show was a contemporary dance choreographed to her newly released song “The Other Side.” The song was written about her stepfather who passed away prematurely from cancer. According to Lauren, soon before his passing, he opened his eyes and described heaven to his gathered family. The song is stunning, as was the dance. In that moment, Lauren reminded us all of what is really important.

“The first thing I do every day when I wake up is thank God for letting me make it through the night and giving me another day of life – just because sometimes I wake up, and I cannot believe I’m doing what I’m doing. I just thank Him. I don’t know how I deserve it, but it’s completely because of Him.”

  1. Reese Witherspoon

Reese

Aside from Reese being the quintessential modern southern woman – and basically perfect in general – she stood up for women in a big way in 2019. She started producing projects based off of her book club picks that primarily involve women. She also starred in Apple TV’s The Morning Show, and I think we all know about that by now. I have always loved Reese and how genuine and humble she seems. Seeing her use her influence to help women in her industry and do even more to tell women’s stories made me admire her even more.

“I encourage women to step up. Don’t wait for somebody to ask you.”

  1. Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsey Ballerini

Remember that Kelly Clarkson concert I talked about? Well, Kelsea Ballerini opened for her. I love Kelsea Ballerini – I have ever since I first heard her very first song. So, when I finally saw her live, I cried…through her first four songs. Someone sitting near me even commented on what a big fan of hers I seemed to be. It was embarrassing and liberating all at once. Aside from the fact that I just adore Kelsea and her music and who she is as a person, she exuded girl power at that show. Seeing “Miss Me More” performed in-person is a whole different experience. To top it off, Kelsea began releasing music from her forthcoming third album at the end of 2019. The lead single, “homecoming queen?,” is quite literally everything I ever needed to hear and has become the official theme song for my life.

“The greatest gift I’ve been given is being naïve, because I don’t know what I can’t do. And when you don’t know what you can’t do, you think you can do everything.”

  1. Allie Beth Stuckey

Allie

Allie is a conservative political commentator and the host of her own podcast, Relatable. It was through her podcast that I really connected with her. By mixing her thoughts on what is happening in the world of politics with scripture-based episodes on theology, Allie has created a unique niche within the ever-growing world of podcasts and made a listener out of someone who tends to be pretty podcast-adverse. She is also not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, particularly going toe-to-toe with celebrities on Twitter when it comes to rights for the unborn. Allie is a conservative woman who I have truly come to admire.

“You can’t be a defender of human rights and a defender of murdering humans at the same time. You get to pick one.”

  1. Sister Reyna I. Aburto

Reyna

Sister Aburto serves as the second counselor in the general Relief Society presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She gave a talk at the General Women’s Session of the Church’s October 2019 General Conference that, in my opinion, changed everything. The talk, titled “Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me!” addressed the subject of mental health. I have been open about my mental health struggles, but I feel that the topic is honestly quite rarely spoken of mainly because no one seems to know how to address it. But Sister Aburto addressed it head on, sharing stories of those she knew who had dealt with depression and anxiety, including her father, who committed suicide. She promised us that we can find peace in Christ, but we should seek medical help if we need it. Her talk set off shock waves on social media where everyone seemed grateful to finally hear this much-needed message. For me, it was a moment of feeling completely seen and understood. I am so grateful that Sister Aburto used this opportunity to share this message with us.

“If you are constantly surrounded by a ‘mist of darkness,’ turn to Heavenly Father. Nothing that you have experienced can change the eternal truth that you are His child and that He loves you.”

  1. Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi

Tulsi Gabbard is a US Representative for Hawaii and is currently running for president. While all of this is a big deal in and of itself, what has inspired me most about her is her willingness to fight for what’s right, even if it means going against her party. When Hillary Clinton attacked her, she fought back. When she realized the Democratic Party was isolating some voters, she spoke out against it. She saw the things that shouldn’t have been happening, and she tried to do something about them. That is why I love Tulsi.

“I believe we can make progress on bringing true equality and fairness back to our government if we continue to work together and make our voices heard.”

  1. Rebecca Ross

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Rebecca Ross is an author – one of my favorites, actually. She is the author of The Queen’s Rising duology, which is basically my two favorite books ever. The second book, The Queen’s Resistance, released in 2019 and it was an event for me. I had to re-read the first book. I had to go buy it the day it released. I had to have a photoshoot in the middle of Barnes & Noble. Why do I love this duology so much? It’s about a fantasy world that is ruled by queens – the next female in the bloodline – and the fight to ensure that it stays that way. There is so much feminism. There is so little toxic masculinity. It’s simply perfect. To top it off, Rebecca’s writing style is absolutely stunning and something I could only hope to reach one day.

“That is a true gift, to help others see the world in a different way.”

  1. & 19. Idina Menzel & Kristen Bell

"Frozen 2" Photo Call - , Toronto, Canada - 04 Nov 2019

They really are a packaged deal, aren’t they? Story time: The first non-medical outing I had after I was in the hospital in October/November was going to see Frozen 2. And I cried profusely. I saw so much of my own journey in Elsa’s. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t incredibly moved by Anna’s too. I love these two ladies and the life they have given to these characters over the years. They have created some of my favorite films, my favorite songs, my favorite moments. Idina and Kristen will always be Elsa and Anna to me, and for that I am grateful.

“You can’t get it right all the time, but you can try your best. If you’ve done that, all that’s left is to accept your shortcomings and have the courage to try to overcome them.” – Idina

“I’m not going to become anybody I don’t want to become.” – Kristen

 

{ quotes via Goodreads | IMDb | Brainy Quote| Huffington Post | Brainy Quote| Quote Catalog | Brainy Quote |Brainy Quote | Goodreads | Brainy Quote | She Knows | Brainy Quote | Twitter | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Brainy Quote | Goodreads | Inspiring Quotes | Brainy Quote }
{ images via E! News/Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp | Billboard/Jesse Grant/ Getty Images for Disney | Variety/Jim Smeal/Rex/Shutterstock | Parade/Jared Siskin/Getty Images for Warner Music Group | Austin Chronicle/Todd V. Wolfson | PopSugar/Getty/Theo Wargo | Who What Wear/Lauren Conrad | Fader/Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images | Glamour/Getty Images | Today/Walt Disney Television/Getty | Billboard/John Shearer/Getty Images for ACM | Parade/Getty Images | WWD/Lexie Moreland | @conservmillen on Twitter | Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Axios/Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images | Rebecca Ross | Variety/Arthur Mola/Invision/AP/Shutters }
18 Women Who Inspired Me in 2018

18 Women Who Inspired Me in 2018

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.

  1. Meghan Markle

meghan 2

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.”

  1. Lauren Daigle

lauren

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.”

  1. Aly Raisman

ally

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.”

  1. Keala Settle

keala

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.”

  1. Abby Sams

abby

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.”

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

rbg

“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.”

  1. Carrie Underwood

carrie

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.”

  1. Michelle Obama

michelle

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

savannah hoda

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

  1. Taylor Swift

taylor

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.”

  1. Tori Foles

tori

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.”

  1. Jenna Bush Hager

Build Presents Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush Discussing Their Book "Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life"

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.”

  1. Ava DuVernay

ava

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.”

  1. Annie F. Downs

annie

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.”

  1. Hallie Jackson

halliee

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.”

  1. Kacey Musgraves

kacey

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.”

  1. Jacinda Ardern

jacinda

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.”

{ quotes via UN Women on Instagram | Facebook | GoogleBrainyquote | Abby Sams on Instagram | Bret Baier on Instagram | Whiskey Riff | Google | Brainyquote | Brainyquote | Google | The Strong Movement |Google | Brainyqoute | Annie F. Downs on Instagram | Hallie Jackson on Twitter | Google | Brainyquote }
{ images via Time| Pinterest | Alexandra Raisman on Instsgram | Style Bistro | Abby Sams on Twitter | Elle | Pinterest | Refinery 29 | Parade | Pinterest | The Strong Movement | Time | Ava DuVernay on Instagram | Goodreads | Duke | NY Times | Pinterest | Forbes }
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

Gal

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

rachel

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

susan

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

victoria

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

ashley

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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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