On the 8th of this month, ladies all around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day. A day for women to remember their unique position as women and to celebrate strength, diversity and commonalities as women, International Women’s Day is a powerful testament to women of all ages.
It is NOT EASY to be a woman! We are expected to be gentle yet tough, graceful yet strong, beautiful yet accepting of who we are, intelligent yet sensitive. We are lucky to be women in Singapore, where we generally are treated equally and where gender discrimination is not rampantly prevalent.
There has never been a better time to be a woman, it seems! With a dizzying array of choices for pleasure, leisure, and work – we are fortunate to be a woman in Singapore. Some women in other countries are not so fortunate however, and for them, their gender may be a matter of life or death.
This March, let us take some time to remember some women throughout history who went against tremendous odds to make a difference in the world around them. Perhaps the next time you have difficulties motivating yourself to get off the couch to start your workout, it would do you good to think back on these 3 amazing women who had the strength to move mountains.
Happy Women’s Day, friends!
1) Elizabeth I
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”
Daughter of one of history’s most notorious rulers, King Henry VIII, and the woman over whom he split with the Roman church, Anne Boleyn — Elizabeth I was a monarch who has really overcome the odds to become one of England’s most successful rulers. Born a princess before being declared an illegitimate bastard at the execution of her mother and eventually reinstated as a legitimate daughter of the King, Elizabeth lived in a world that was dangerous and turbulent. When she finally ascended the throne as a young woman after the death of her half-siblings Edward and Mary, Elizabeth had her work cut out for her in a world dominated by men. She defied the odds in her stable 44 years of rule, having never married to secure her position or an alliance with a foreign kingdom, and yet managing to lead her country to one of the most prosperous eras of her times.
2) Aimee Mullins
“It’s factual to say I am a bilateral-below-the-knee amputee. I think it’s subjective opinion as to whether or not I am disabled because of that. That’s just me.”
Born without fibula bones due to fibular hemimelia, a congenital disease, Aimee Mullins had both her lower legs amputated when she was just one year old. Today, you may know her as an amazing athlete and fashion model, who has not let her lack of lower legs get the better of her. Aimee is an example of a woman who strives for excellence because of and in spite of her physical impairments. From a young age, she taught herself to participate in all sorts of sports – from skiing to softball to track. She never let a wheelchair define or confine her, instead choosing to not only walk on prosthetic legs, becoming the fastest woman on prosthetics. She also inspires a generation of women today with her strength and positive attitude, refusing to be labelled as “disabled” in spite of her lack of legs as she believes such labels act as shackles and places limits on a person. We could not agree more, Aimee!
3) Coco Chanel
“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”
Her name is almost synonymous with couture today and her pieces among the most coveted by women the world over. Coco Chanel’s fashion empire began during World War I and she has not looked back since. Hailed as one of the most influential fashion designers of all times, Chanel had a hard childhood and grew up in poverty. Determined to make a better life for herself and not let society dictate how she should live her life, Chanel decided to make a name for herself – first in the cabaret, then as a hat designer, and finally as a fashion designer. Her influences on what women wore were far-reaching and extended beyond her iconic bags and perfumes; popularising menswear staples such as trousers and free-fitting clothing as opposed to the favoured corseted styles of the early 20th century. Chanel was a strong proponent of designing clothes with the woman’s interests in mind, so it was really no wonder that her designs and personality became a big hit with the affluent women of the time. With a philosophy that many modern women can identify with and an aesthetic that is timeless – Chanel is truly a woman who we can draw inspiration from!