As we come to the end of year, I always find that I start reflecting on the year that’s been. What I’ve achieved, how I failed, what I gained, who I lost. It’s never an easy thing but it does always make re-evaluate the lessons that I’ve learned. Sometimes these lessons are learned through other people and so I just wanted to share on my blog some of the amazing, strong, and powerful women who inspire me, and what lessons they teach me on the daily. I hope to take these lessons into 2018, so that I can grow and experience more in the new year. So, without further ado, here are the lessons I’ve learnt from some incredibly strong role models:
Be yourself, whoever that is today.
I first discovered the legend that is Marlene Dietrich at 18 years of age, when I was asked to play her in a devised piece of theatre created during my training at drama school. I knew nothing about her, other than the fact that she was German and apparently liked to wear suits. Hours of research and watching black & white movies helped me to uncover the ultimate strong woman. Born in 1910, she was an actress that showed no fear in expressing herself and reinventing herself. She knew the control she could have over public opinion of her – sometimes she used this to her advantage, and other times she threw it to the wind. She was often one step ahead of the times in all areas of life, a fashion icon and muse for many designers, but also openly bisexual and not afraid to claim her sexuality for her own. She was essentially an absolute GAL, and some of her quotes would definitely spill out of my mouth during wine-induced deep chats with my girlfriends. Marlene, thank you for having no fear in expressing yourself, and for fully showing the many sides of the self that we all possess.
“It’s the friends you can call up at 4am that matter.”
“Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know how to use them”
“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”
There is no such thing as normal, just your normal. And that’s totally ok.
Carrie’s death late last year hit a chord with so many people across the world. I knew of Carrie Fisher mostly because I had been brought up watching the Star Wars movies, and would happily sit through them again and again if there were repeats on telly. However, her death and the media attention it caused brought up a lot of the amazing work she had done to “normalise” the stigma behind mental health. Carrie Fisher suffered with Bipolar disorder and had struggled through a drug addiction, but worked to be as open about this as possible. She spoke often about her use of medication to stabilise her moods, and also about the every day battles she faced just to get through the day. Her legacy was that of openness about something that still holds such a stigma, even in today’s society. Ultimately, she taught many that there is no “normal”. Carrie, thank you for teaching the world that everyone’s experiences of the world are their own, and that is all that “normal” can be.
“I’m very sane about how crazy I am.”
“Take your broken heart, make it into art” – As quoted by Meryl Streep in her Golden Globes acceptance speech this year.
We already have the tools to create the life we choose.
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential women in America and across the world, and for good reason. If you read her “story”, a girl from a poor town, pregnant as a teen, molested as a child, and in relationships that prompted her to use hard drugs, the ending you’d expect would totally contrast with the life she has achieved. She is an inspiration for people across the world, that despite your beginnings you can choose the way your life pans out. Oprah, thank you for showing me that the life we want to lead is purely set by how we use the situations we are in. We have the tools within us to make the best life we possibly can.
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”
“I believe every single event in life is an opportunity to choose love over fear.”
Live your life with the aim of creating a legacy of positivity and love.
Jo Cox is a name ingrained into the consciousness of Brits after the targeted and ultimately fatal attack on her in 2016. However, her death is not how she has been remembered, and the way she spent her life, constantly trying to better the world for others, has been her lasting legacy. She grew up with relatively humble beginnings, working packing toothpaste in her summer breaks from school, and worked to end up studying at Pembroke College, Cambridge. After working as an adviser for politicians in the UK and Europe, she then went on to work for the humanitarian charity Oxfam. It was her work abroad with the charity that helped to influence her political thinking, and meant that her main aims as a Labour politician were to ensure that those less fortunate were given a chance to achieve. Her death was tragic and meaningless, but also created a legacy of kindness and gave voice to her beliefs in a greater scale than she could have imagined. Jo Cox, thank you for using your life for good, for increasing awareness of social issues ignored by the many, and for using your position to create a legacy of inclusiveness.
“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
“I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But despite all the dangers and difficult judgements that lie ahead, burying our head in the sand is not an option.”
Everyone has their own battles beneath the surface.
Everyone that knows me knows that I’ve got a love for Lady Gaga. She is an incredible artist, creating music and art, then merging it together to create something truly provocative and ultimately MY ABSOLUTE FAVE. Not only is she talented and hard-working, but she is a true advocate for being proud of who you are, and is one of the most recognised gay icons in the world. Her album “Born this Way” empowered so many LGBT people to feel comfortable in their skin, as well as being the inspiration for the Born this Way foundation that aims to give opportunities to young people. However, despite being the figurehead in fighting many battles for others, she struggles daily with her own battle against Fibromyalgia. Her recent documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two was an opportunity for her fans to see her life behind the cameras, but also to raise awareness of this debilitating disease. Lady Gaga, thank you for being strong for others, despite the battles you fight yourself.
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
“Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.”
“Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses, cuz we were born this way bitch!”
These are just a few of the amazing (and famous!) women who inspire me. I hope their lessons can resonate with you too! Please do comment and let me know the strong ladies who you look up to.
Lots of love,
– Koko x