Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Women who Inspire Me Now

I grew up in the era of Charlie's Angels and Victoria Slims' "You've Come a Long Way Baby" models, but I was more influenced by Gone with the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara ( I read the book a dozen times) and Cher, who remains the only celebrity I've ever written a fan letter. What Scarlett and Cher had in common for me was their unabashed bravery in flouting the standards of how women were supposed to behave. They were showy and ballsy and weren't afraid to go after what they wanted. Oh, and they had fun and wore great clothes.
Does it get any cooler than Chrissie?

I'm still a fan of both, but now that I'm older, I thought I'd put together a list of women of all ages who inspire me today. I'd love to hear who's on your list!

1. Chrissie Hynde (60) - When I was the token chick in a cover band, one of the few female fronted groups that the guys were really excited to play was the Pretenders. Why? Because even by guy standards, Chrissy rocks. That bad-ass, gravelly, sexy, screw you alto was irresistible, and when I sang Back on the Chain Gang or Middle of the Road, I felt a little of her gritty, rebellious, passion rubbing off on my soul. I had the chance to see her perform a couple years ago at the Riviera, and in her late 50s, she was cooler than ever.

2. Serena Williams  (29)- I love tennis, so I have to love Serena, the most dramatic, committed, excitingly dominant player in woman's tennis today (despite her loss yesterday to Stauser in the U.S. Open final.) She has had ups, she has had downs, but when this woman is on her game, she is fucking fierce, and it's a beautiful thing to see a woman exude such confidence, power and raw physicality. I even love her temper tantrums.

Wish I looked this good.
3. Helen Mirren (66) - This brilliant, funny, beautiful Brit actress appears to embrace her age and savor her life, all while still rocking a bikini (see right.)

4. Marlo Thomas  (73) - I had the chance to interview Marlo last year, so I may be biased, but this woman continues to be one of the most significant voices for women in our time. She is so much more than "That Girl." She's a feminist icon, the face of St. Jude, and continues to bring women together to talk about meaningful, modern issues at her website. If I'm thinking about a subject, chances are, she has already covered it there.

5. Michelle Obama (47) - Whether or not you agree with her politics, Michelle Obama is a warm, dignified, intelligent, sophisticated first lady who obviously is hot for her husband, adores her children, and conducts herself with confidence and class. Not to mention, she looks fantastic - so chic, so real, and so comfortable in her skin.

6. Tina Fey (41) - Whip-smart, hilarious author and screenwriter who somehow made it into the SNL boys' club. Actor, comedian, performer, producer, star. Of course I'm inspired by Tina Fey. I want to BE Tina Fey.

7. Lady Gaga (25) - I don't get what the hell this chick is up to 90% of the time, but I love her for being so freaking creative and groundbreaking with her image, her music, and her message.

Nina Garcia -
 high fashion, high standards
8. Nina Garcia (46)- I adore this Colombian fashion editor in her role as judge on Lifetime's Project Runway. She is looks fantastic without trying too hard - a combination of classic and cool - which I aspire to as a 40-something woman. But more than her looks, I admire her exacting standards for the designers on the show and her unwillingness to pull any punches in her critique. I, for one, would hate to ever let Nina down. And she has written four books - including The Little Black Book of Style, which I own.

9. Kathryn Bigelow (59) - Bigelow won an Academy award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker in 2010 -far from a girly film. Not only was she the first woman to ever win this category, she beat her ex-husband, James Cameron, nominated for Avatar. Call that karma!

10. Jennifer Garner (39)- In a world of emaciated, overly done, surreal looking starlets toting toddlers while tottering on stilettos, actress Jennifer Garner obviously has her priorities straight. She's a hands-on mom who looks healthy, pretty and natural when hanging with her kids, yet can amp up the glamour on the red carpet when she needs to. So refreshing!

There are a lot more women who inspire me, some famous, but many you've never heard of.  Like the foursome of ladies in their 80s who play tennis on the court next to me on Monday mornings, and a girlfriend who has turned her personal struggles into incredible activism for victims of rape and children with cancer, an insightful life coach, and my mother  - who at 70 - is just hitting her stride as as an artist.

When I look ahead and think about the qualities I want to embody, I don't need to start from scratch. There are so many fantastic women all around me to use as role models and mentors.

So, who inspires you?

Here are some other inspiring women I've written about in the past:
Annie Burnside, Soul Nurturer and Enlightened Parenting Expert
Sheri, a 43 year-old woman who went through in-vitro to have a child on her own
Singer-Songwriter Stephanie Rogers, who is releasing her new album this week!

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