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…
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Allie Beth Stuckey
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.”
Sister Reyna I. Aburto
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.”
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.”
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.”
& 19. Idina Menzel & Kristen Bell
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