Princess, schmincess — a few very cool role models for a little girl

Loved this!

So my amazing daughter, Emma,  turned 5 last month, and I had been searching everywhere for new-creative inspiration for her 5yr pictures. I noticed quite a pattern of so many young girls dressing up as beautiful Disney Princesses, no matter where I looked 95% of the “ideas” were the “How to’s” of  how to dress your little girl like a Disney Princess…
It started me thinking about all the REAL women for my daughter to know about and look up too, REAL women who without ever meeting Emma have changed her life for the better. My daughter wasn’t born into royalty, but she was born into a country where she can now vote, become a doctor, a pilot, an astronaut, or even President if she wants and that’s what REALLY matters. I wanted her to know the value of these amazing women who had gone against everything so she can now have everything. We chose 5 women (five amazing and strong women), as it was her 5th birthday but there are thousands of unbelievable women (and girls) who have beat the odds and fought (and still fight) for their equal rights all over the world……..so let’s set aside the Barbie Dolls and the Disney Princesses for just a moment, and let’s show our girls the REAL women they can be.

The black and white photos of Emma, dressed and posed as Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller and Jane Goodall are charming, lovely and thought-provoking — taken by her mother, Austin, TX-based photographer Jaime Moore.

English: Helen Keller. Français : Helen Keller.
English: Helen Keller. Français : Helen Keller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t have a daughter or even nieces to hang out with, but smart, powerful, high-achieving role models are huge for young girls, especially in cultures that tend to value women primarily or exclusively for being thin/pretty/docile/mothers.

It’s not easy to be a smart, ferociously determined young woman, and find a welcoming place in a larger world that is sharp-elbowed enough as it is.

Molly Ivins
Molly Ivins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up, some of the women in my field of journalism who inspired me included contemporary photographers Susan Meiselas, Deborah Turbeville, and Jill Krementz (who I got to meet and shadow for a day, {also Kurt Vonnegut’s wife}) and other successful women journalists, from Molly Ivins and Nelly Bly and Margaret Bourke-White to war correspondents Marguerite Higgins and Martha Gellhorn, (also one of Hemingway’s wives).

Have you ever heard of Washington Post photographer Carol Guzy?

She has (so far!) won four Pulitzer Prizes:

As a young girl, Carol Guzy always wanted to be an artist. But as she was coming of age in a working-class family in Bethlehem, Pa., such an ambition seemed impossible. “Everyone I knew said, ‘Oh, if you’re an artist, you’ll starve,'” she recalls. “You have to do something really practical.'” So Guzy chose to go to nursing school. Halfway through she realized she would not, could not, be a nurse. “I was scared to death I was going to kill someone by making some stupid mistake,” she laughs. So while she was trying to figure out what to do with her life, a friend gave her a camera and she took a photography course. Her fascination with photography led to an internship and then a job at the Miami Herald. In 1988 she moved to The Post. Her photographs have won three Pulitzer Prizes and three Photographer of the Year awards in the National Press Photographers’ annual contest.

A long list of cool, brave women led the way so that I could do the work I enjoy. I admire the hell out of them and am grateful to them for speaking up and out and taking risks, both physical and professional.

Signature of Susan B Anthony
Signature of Susan B Anthony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you have a role model growing up?

Who — and how did that affect you?

31 thoughts on “Princess, schmincess — a few very cool role models for a little girl

  1. One year I dressed up as Georgia O’Keeffe — she was my fav! I think, most of all I was inspired by Mary Chapin Carpenter. I loved how empowering her music was. Also my mother, who originally got a degree in Education (her father gave her a list of practical/acceptable majors) and now has created her own knitwear design company. Thanks for such an inspirational post!

  2. themodernidiot

    My mother. My grandmother. A few teachers here and there. Georgia O’Keefe.

    If I were bent toward the divine, I would think Molly Ivins was on loan from Heaven.

    1. Then you will appreciate this odd/true fact — the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe is built on the grounds of my husband’s father’s former church. The tiny entry courtyard is where he used to play when he was little.

      1. Julia

        This has true meaning for you and especially Jose. I have seen this place so I can picture it.

  3. My role model has always been my mom. She was (and still is) a very strong, smart and powerful woman. Despite that she was a young mom (she had me as a teenager) and had very little formal education (she didn’t finish high school — opting instead to take the GED at age 16), I remember that she was never intimidated by anyone. She believed in herself, she stood up for what she believed in, and she always found a way where others only saw a dead end. She taught me that with hard work, perseverance, and a healthy dose of reality, you can achieve what others view as unachievable. And that’s stuck with me for life.

    Loved this post — so inspirational!

    1. She sounds amazing. Lucky you! It’s so true that you can often accomplish far more than people expect. When someone shows me a wall, I look for a door or start carving a window.

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