Women I Want My Daughter to Admire

I didn’t watch the VMAs last night (we don’t have cable) but I saw Miley’s performance on YouTube, and mostly, it just depressed me. I don’t want to get into it, I don’t want to dissect what her performance means, or if it is right/wrong, or any of it. It depressed me because when her songs come on the radio my five year old wants to hear them because it is a “girl singer”. She obviously has no idea what Miley’s performance might mean, but if she HAD seen it, how would I explain it? How would I explain who Miley Cyrus even IS? Or why so many girls DO idolize her? I don’t know how. Instead, I want to put together a little list of some pretty cool girls and women that I do want to introduce her to. So when any of these kinds of Miley Cyrus twerking type situations arise, I will instead point her attention to one of these inspiring, positive women. These are but just a few of the amazing women in the world. Feel free to add your own inspiring role models in the comment section. Rock on ladies.

British primatologist, Jane Goodall, British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace

Jane Goodall, British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace

Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer, survivor, total badass

Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer, survivor, total badass

One of the few female conductors, Marin was the first woman to wield the baton at a major US orchestra when she became music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007

One of the few female conductors, Marin Alsop was the first woman to wield the baton at a major US orchestra when she became music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007

Ellen MacArthur, Sailor who completed solo circumnavigation race, the Vendée Globe, then broke the non-stop solo world record

Ellen MacArthur, Sailor who completed solo circumnavigation race, the Vendée Globe, then broke the non-stop solo world record

Brittany Wegner, 17, won the Google Science Fair grand prize with her "Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer". Designed to noninvasively diagnose malignant cancerous tumors, it successfully detected over 99% of malignant breast tumors in a test set.

Brittany Wegner, 17, won the Google Science Fair grand prize with her “Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer”. Designed to noninvasively diagnose malignant cancerous tumors, it successfully detected over 99% of malignant breast tumors in a test set.

Single mother J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, inspiring young readers and improving literacy levels, built one of the top-earning literary franchises ever

Single mother J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, inspiring young readers and improving literacy levels, built one of the top-earning literary franchises ever

Audrey Hepburn, mother, actress, humanitarian, and all around class act

Audrey Hepburn, mother, actress, humanitarian, and all around class act

High jumper Alice Coachman, first female African American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, has been inducted into eight halls of fame.

High jumper Alice Coachman, first female African American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, has been inducted into eight halls of fame.

Temple Grandin, doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, autistic activist, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She also created the "hug box", a device to calm autistic children.

Temple Grandin, doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, autistic activist, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She also created the “hug box”, a device to calm autistic children.

Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist

Frida Kahlo, Mexican artist

Licia Ronzulli, proud baby wearing member of the European Parliament who brought daughter Vittoria to a plenary session of the European Parliament as a symbolic gesture to reclaim more rights for women in reconciling work and family life.

Licia Ronzulli, proud baby wearing member of the European Parliament who brought daughter Vittoria to a plenary session of the European Parliament as a symbolic gesture to reclaim more rights for women in reconciling work and family life.

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig

Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer and producer and author of the hilarious "Prayer for my Daughter" reprinted below...

Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer and producer and author of the hilarious “Prayer for my Daughter” reprinted below…

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her. When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Amen.

-Tina Fey

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80 Responses to Women I Want My Daughter to Admire

  1. Jeanette foster says:

    I would also like to add Rachel Parent! A canadian, 14 yr old girl who’s a gmo free activist

  2. Karen says:

    I would add Sarah Kay – poet and fierce mother.

  3. Thank you for writing this!! It’s super and a great reminder of staying positive and looking toward the women who make a difference!

  4. Celeste says:

    Thanks for sharing! Expresses thoughts of a 13 year old girl’s mom!!

  5. Sheyla Tubert says:

    ThI love this! So inspiring! As parents, aunties, grandmothers, friends, etc we have to constantly remind this young generation what’s right n what’s wrong. If we improve communication with our kids we can get the message in their hearts. Women are not just sexual objects! a women’s job its not just to look pretty n skinny. We must find ways to to inspire, talk, connect n be patience, creative n loving so we can connect with our children. Our society keeps falling apart because “these roles” models on MTV are educating our kids for the last 30 years with their trashy videos n music. Let’s be proactive n work hard!!! Trash can’t win over class n education

  6. JA C-V says:

    As As the mom of two young boys, I would echo these sentiments for them, too. I feel the great responsibility to raise good husbands and respectful friends of women. We all suffer from the crap out there!

    • Gabrielle C. says:

      I have three boys and was thinking the exact same thing. Let my sons find THESE WOMEN admirable, and not find admiration in the ability to twerk.

  7. Great list!! I’ve gotta add my girl Hillary Clinton on there :-)

    • Jill says:

      WWord. Also Senator Warren. Michelle Obama. Justice Ginsberg.

    • Hmmmmm Hmmmm says:

      Why? Personally, I’d rather my daughter twerk on national tv 5 nights a week than grow up to help out military coups in Honduras, sit on the board of directors of Wal Mart, or be a part of an organization that bombs, jails, and spies at record levels in world history (US government).

  8. Melissa says:

    AsAs a child who grew up in the seventies and learned to play outside, make forts and figure out how to navigate through adolence with much tv, my parents became my role models without knowing it!

  9. Christen says:

    I would add Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I think the work she does for veterans and women in the workplace has been great. Plus, I think she’s a great example of a mom trying to balance a career and family!

  10. Sap says:

    I’ll add Gypsee Yo, an amazing poet. Here are the words she had for her daughter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SK3nqACtmk

  11. Melissa says:

    I would add Condoleezza Rice to the list. She’s very smart, musically talented, and very attractive in a professional way.

    • CML says:

      Um. But of course, then there was that ignoring the memo sent to her that said “Al Qaeda Planning to Attack US by Flying Jet in Building” and her unwillingness to admit it or apologize it. And, of course, the “Iraq Mushroom Cloud” argument she made for invading Iraq. On second thought, let’s not use her as a role model.

  12. Gina says:

    I don’t have daughters but I’d like my sons to know these women! And I would add Eve Ensler to the list! V-day activist, play write, cancer survivor and so much more!

  13. autumn kinsey says:

    Although it’s not very current, I think a wonderful female role model is Hypatia. She was the last librarian at the Library of Alexandria around the 375 CE. The reason she is so inspiring is that she was a teacher. And this was a time that women were not allowed to teach the men who went on to be great leaders. She was respected and revered by these men and they saw her as an intellectual superior. She never married, but instead her one true love was education. Most importantly, she is credited with discovering that the orbit of the Earth around the sun is elliptical, not circular. This was a HUGE declaration, as those whom she learned from never believed this. I really admire her intelligence, perseverance and tenacity. These are the qualities I want my daughter to learn.

  14. Debra Liles says:

    PpMary, Jesus’ mother, is women to admire. She, who was not rich or popular in society, was chosen to give birth to the Son of God. She, as most young girls, dealing with the crisis or self image as a young lady questioned her path. God was faithful to answer. She knew her Son was special and God knew He could count on her faithfulness to raise His Son up in The Lord. So after she had completed her job as a parent she had to let Him go just as we do as parents. In doing so, as with most mothers that do that many times, whether it be letting them go on their first group night out or first date, it’s all the same. As a women a faith she put Him in the Lord’s hands through prayer. Mary also demonstrated her faithfulness through watching her Son be persecuted, beaten and put on trial and crucified. And still her faith prevailed. She saw Him fulfill God’s purpose. Now her Son, because of His fullfillment of scripture can give more to the world more than non other. He gave Himself for our sin. Why? So we could accept this gift of love from The Lord and spend eternity with Him. Then Mary’s Son Jesus said He is a friend to all who accept Him as Lord. In addition He said what He has He gives to His friends. What is this that He’s giving? Power over all through Jesus’ Name. So Mary did not know what path she was taking but she did know, as I do, that the path that The Lord lead her on will always glorify Him. There are many more promises for God’s people. He left the key to those promises in His Word , the Bible.

  15. Susan kolar says:

    I I would add the young woman from Pakistan that addressed the UN recently. I cant offhand remember her name, but her heroic commitment to the rights of females to be educated speaks volumes on what impact just one person can have in bettering the conditions around the world

  16. Deborah says:

    AsIn the “girl singer” department, I introduced my daughter to Joni Mitchell, – the entire span of her career. She makes both girls and boys come alive with feeling understood.

  17. Teresa says:

    I I I would add my mom.

  18. Devin says:

    Madam C.J. Walker, Victoria Woodall, Georgia Gilmore, Tina Turner, Annie Lennox

  19. singmikesing says:

    My mother Coleen, who while cooking, cleaning, teaching, comforting, nurturing, defending, chastising, teaching, praying over, emotionally reassembling, chauffeuring, holding, teaching, loving, teaching and teaching 5 people to become a large part of all the good she tirelessly lives, STILL finds a way to fill our lives and the lives of countless others with her beautiful music. God bless and defend all the women whose names will never be known that choose to take all the talent and knowledge they possess and with a singularity of purpose and effort make the world a better (bearable?) place through an increasingly under-rated and grossly under-appreciated job. A job that keeps at least a few places in the world still beautiful, safe and pure.

  20. Sparky says:

    Women that should be added
    Janelle Monae – Singer/song writer and a very strong voice for civil rights.
    Brittany Howard – Frontwoman of Alabama Shakes
    Na Li – Tennis player who won the 2011 french open singles.
    Lucy Liu – because she’s a badass whom every one should want to emulate. I mean come on.

    As much as I like this list, there’s a lack of women of color on here who are serving as young, vivacious role models today.

  21. Stephani Veff says:

    I would add Helen Keller and Juliette Gordon Low (the founder of Girl Scouts).

  22. Didi says:

    http://www.catherinebennett.so/about.html

    Can I add this lady…created by Bryonny Kimmings and her 9 year old neice – after a wish to create a ‘Likeable Credible Superstar Role Model’ as an antidote to current ‘tween’ culture…they have just finished a run of their show in Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

  23. Mom3daughters says:

    I I just learned about Yuri Kochiyama the other day. Another amazing woman!!

  24. Gina says:

    I’m in tears after reading Tina’s “prayer”. It’s been mine for the last 17 years. AMEN!!!!

  25. Emily says:

    I really enjoyed this post! I don’t have kids yet, but and can certainly imagine all challenges present in raising and an empowered girl these days! Thank you for this!

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Must add Sally Ride–the first American woman in space who was not only an astronaut, but started her own foundation to increase girls’ involvement in science and other STEM fields.

  27. Patrice says:

    I would choose to add some people who aren’t actually with us anymore – Irene Sendler, Mother Teresa, Lady Diana, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, Benazir Bhutto, Harriet Tubman, etc. I would also include those still living – Maya Angelou, Ellen Degeneres, Diane Sawyer, and most importantly (to me) my own Mom (Betty) who has overcome tremendous hardships and raised her daughter alone to be independent, compassionate, and concerned for the humans and animals of the planet, and to know how to listen when someone needs you, and make them laugh to ease the pain.

  28. Stephanie says:

    KaKatherine Switzer – the first female to finish the Boston Marathon

  29. Lauren Rader says:

    BBeautiful post. There are so many incredible women in our world. May all of our daughters be added to the list.

  30. cc says:

    Mathilde Krim is unique among philanthropists. She was able to combine her years of experience in medical research with her extraordinary skills as a fund-raiser to create and sustain AmFAR (the American Foundation for AIDS Research), the preeminent national organization supporting research on AIDS and advocating public policies that respond to the needs of people with AIDS. In the year 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the United States—for her “extraordinary compassion and commitment” to AIDS patients and research.

  31. Selena says:

    aI think Kim Cardasian is amazing!

    • Mary Mckercher says:

      She became famous for a home made porno video….not something I want my daughter to aspire too! (No counting her multi-million dollar wedding for a marriage that lasted only 72 days)

  32. Kathy says:

    PrPrincess Di, Rosalind Franklin, Harriet Tubman….The list goes on.

  33. Levey says:

    Ina May Gaskin, she revitilized the midwifery movement in the 60′s and 70′s and was my inspiration in going to nursing school.

  34. Linuxchickie says:

    htthttp://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1997/williams-facts.html

  35. Jason Dryden says:

    This is a great idea. A few additions…
    1. Joan of Arc
    2. Matta Hari
    3. Sade Adu
    4.my mom.

  36. trish says:

    Please…if you think Frieda Kahlo was any less controversial in her time than Miley Cyrus, than you are the ignorant ones! She used her sexuality just as much as the next gal. AND the last 3 ladies on this list have said and done things that are equally as bad as Miley, just not in front of as many people since no one watches SNL anymore! Get off your high horses. It’s all art and entertainment. To each his or her own. The judgement alone makes this the lesser group!

    • mamatogajenny says:

      My point really was less of wanting to condemn Miley (which I don’t do) and just highlight some other women that I think are deserved of attention. I’m not saying anyone is better than anyone else, or passing judgment, just wanted to put together a list of some cool women, plain and simple. Controversial does not always equal bad, either.

    • yuck says:

      Congratulations! You are the only Miley Cyrus fan in the world!

    • Ali says:

      there’s a difference between portraying a beautiful female body in a classy sexy way, as opposed to portraying yourself as a dirty slut. Classy vs. Slutty.

  37. Melissa says:

    I noticed the comment about Kim Kardashian was removed. Why?

    • mamatogajenny says:

      Sometimes comments are marked as spam by my spam filter unbeknownst to me. I will check for a Kim K. comment and will mark it as non spam, thanks for the heads up!

  38. Julie Husch says:

    Jenny, you should add yourself :-)

  39. jennifer_ battle@hotmail.com says:

    great post and comments. my 2 cents: Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, ani difranco, Georgia O’Keefe, Jody Williams, Ashly Judd, Ann Richards, Jane Adams, Francis Perkins, Annise Parker

  40. Sharon Luna says:

    MyI want to add my mom…………….for being my mom and the best mom….

  41. abby says:

    Must add Maya Angelou!!

  42. Jasia says:

    I would like to add the name of Arifa Karim, a Pakistani student and computer prodigy who in 2004 at the age of nine years became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit the Microsoft Headquarters in the USA. She at a very young age started attending many IT conferences comprising of IT experts and developers around the world. She died in 2012 after a cardiac arrest at the age of 16. Bill gates personally contacted her parents and set up a special panel of doctors who were constantly monitoring her condition during her illness. I consider her to be the true inspiration for young girls in the present era where most of the girls consider those women who use their sexuality to be popular as their role models. I believe God has created women as the most precious living thing on earth who must be highly respected in every role she carries like as a woman, mother, daughter and wife and should not be treated as a commodity or sex object.

  43. Michael Morales says:

    There are two Caribbean women I would like to add to this list- Nicole-Ann Hosein, a leader in conflict resolution and women’s issues, and Mary Jane Arneaud a brilliant researcher and critical thinker. Both are inspiring Caribbean women and men as well. Keep it up ladies, you have my love and support.

  44. Zora Neale Hurston: American author. She wrote, among others, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Alice Walker herself said: “There is no book more important to me than this one.”

  45. CML says:

    Diana Krall

  46. Sarah A. says:

    Every girl should learn about Alice Paul. Paul was a suffragist who organized the march on DC, picketed the White House, went to jail, and pretty much made sure (after years and years of waiting!) the 19th Amendment finally passed. She was also the author of the Equal Rights Amendment.

  47. Francesca Piantedosi says:

    M Maria Montessori. And You and Me.

    A Tiger Flower blooming Magenta. (by Tina Fey) WOOOW.

  48. Mmendes says:

    Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach and Robin Roberts

  49. Shawna Williams says:

    WaWangari Maathi, Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy, and M.I.A.

  50. Shawna Williams says:

    OOh, and, Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, and Marie Curie.

  51. Anna says:

    iPFairly good list, and great message, but I think you need more than 1 black woman in there, and at least one Asian. Certainly one Arab woman. Yes, I’m sure people would hate on this message for being so PC but hey, this is for all the minorities reading. Who can I suggest? Shirine Ebadi, human rights lawyer. Aung San Suu Kyi, no intro needed. Li Na, badass tennis player. Perfume, the Japanese techno pop trio that exploded the “cute slut” template of idol girls in music. That Turkish woman in a red dress who faced down the army in Istanbul. I could go on and on…

  52. Diana Guerguieva says:

    Steph Davis – badass rock climber
    Dian Fossey – zoologist who did research along with Jane Goodall in the Congo and fought against the poaching of gorillas.

  53. Diana Guerguieva says:

    Jill Robinson – zoologist who founded Animals Asia which has created bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam and has been working to put an end to bear bile farming
    Ray Eames
    Anna Akhmatova – Russian poet whose work was censored by the Stalinist regime. She chose not to emigrate and her work expresses the difficulties of living in Russia at that time. Her first husband was executed by the Soviet secret police and her son and second husband spent many years in the Gulag.
    Harriet Beacher Stowe – abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    Harper Lee – author of To Kill a Mockingbird

  54. Rachel says:

    I would just like to point out that although these women have achieved incredible accomplishments, there are so many incredible women who we will never hear of. They wil never be famous, their accomplishments will never be made known to all the world. They are mothers… who COULD be out achieving what society deems as greatness, but instead they selflessly choose to put self-fulfillment on hold to nourish, care for, nurture, educate, instill morals into, and most importantly help their children come to know that they are a son or daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves them, is aware of them, and has a plan for them. The strength of society lies with women like this who raise the next generation. I fear the downfall of a society where women don’t see the importance of being mother and don’t see themselves as achieving unless they’re doing the same things a man would do.

  55. Chiclette says:

    I would like to add Mother Teresa and Science student Eesha Khare of Saratoga, Calif. won Intel’s Young Scientist Award by building a supercharger that slides into your mobile phone’s battery, recharging it in seconds plus there are so many unsung female heros that will never be mentioned but at least they know who they are…

  56. Rebecca says:

    Tavi is also very inspirational and also of the same age as Miley

  57. Judy Hyman says:

    I II would like to add Marianne Williamson, who is an author of many books and spiritual speaker. Marianne’s first book A Return to Love was on the best seller list for weeks and transformed my life.

  58. K French says:

    MMalala Yousafzai is the courageous young woman who spoke before the U.N. and who remains undeterred by the vicious violence of the Taliban. She speaks so eloquently of education for all as a human right. Her gift for speaking and writing is what made her anenemy of Islamist extremists beginning at 12 years old, as she blogged for the BBC about life in Pakistan under Taliban influence. Her gracious nature reflects a maturity much beyond her teenage years. A key to her confidence is her belief in using her life to serve a greater purpose than her own satisfaction or self-preservation. What a model of courage, poise, humility, and vision.

  59. Beth says:

    I would also like to add (actress or no) Uma Thurman & Geena Davis… Both smart, classy, as well as talented and beautiful, women who have achieved fame through acting and managed to keep their private lives from being totally disclosed… I applaud Jane Goodall, who every little girl should know of and appreciate… And Condoleezza Rice, a tough woman who came from a humble background and ascended through the Mans World of Politics to the rank of Secretary of State. These are a few women who come to mind as I read your humorous but very real article :)

    • Beth says:

      Additionally, Norah Jones makes a very comparable subject to Miley, her (estranged) father being Ravi Shankar, a musician (sitarist who worked with the Beatles) and who, at a young age , achieved fame through her own measurable talent , but managed to STAY CLASSY.

  60. Barbara says:

    What a brilliant post! May my boys respect all women, even the ones who think twerk is cool. May my boys know with all their hearts that every woman deserves respect, even when they [the women] don’t know that. May my boys inspire others to respect and honor every woman of the world. – That’s my prayer…

  61. Mary Mckercher says:

    I want to add Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart

  62. L. Medina says:

    ACChristiane Amanpour; former CNN Anchor and Chief International Correspondent, covering some of the toughest international conflicts of our time. She started at at CNN as a entry level desk assistant. Smart, determined, fearless.

  63. Canadian Woman says:

    HoHonourable Mentions: Dr. Maria Montessori; Marie Curie; Kim Campbell; Margaret Thatcher; Diana, Princess of Wales; Indira Gandhi; Benazir Bhutto; Helen Keller; Malala Yousafzai; Rosa Parks; Gloria Steinem; Harriet Tubman; Aung San Suu Kyi; Mother Teresa; Meryl Streep; many more women and of course, all MOTHERS worldwide.

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