Inspiration is such a funny thing. Someone (or something) that inspires me, may not mean anything to you. But to feel inspired is so important, and to aspire to be more than we are is fundamental for our happiness and a state of contentment.
There are so many inspirational women that have encouraged me in my life, or I have viewed as role models. They are not necessarily great pioneers, doctors or suffragettes. This is NOT a post about The Women’s Movement or Feminism, rather it is very much my list; relevant to my life and experiences. Some on my list are actors, others are teachers or friends. Others I respect because of the way they lived their lives, their work, or the legacy they left. Let me know what you think!
1. Joanna Lumley Joanna is not only an incredible actor and comedienne, she is also a style icon, model, author and activist. It is however, her gutsy attitude that has always appealed to me. So much so, that in difficult situations I have often thought ‘How would Joanna deal with this?’
2. Marilyn Monroe Talented, beautiful and a victim of the studios that controlled her image, Marilyn was jogging in the 1950’s! Truly, a woman ahead of her time.
3. Eleanor Roosevelt Penned my favourite quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” A civil rights pioneer, as well as a diplomat and activist, she served as First Lady from 1933-1945.
4. Joy Adamson A naturalist, artist and author. Her book, Born Free, describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. Devoted to raising orphaned lions and training them to survive in the wild, she was murdered in 1980 in Kenya.
5. Rosa Parks The Civil Rights activist who refused to give up her seat and thus played a pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott, is an inspiration for anyone dealing with prejudice.
6. Helen Mirren One of my favourite actors, I love her portrayal as the formidable DCI Tennyson in Prime Suspect.
7. Anita Roddick Founder of The Body Shop and a human rights activist, we lost her too early to a brain haemorrhage.
8. Maya Angelou I have probably used Maya’s quotes in my positivity posts more than anyone else’s. Maya was a poet, singer and writer: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
9. Madonna I feel like I grew up with Madonna, her ups and downs, her singing and acting career, personal life successes and failures. Through it all she emerged as a woman who would not be put down by anyone. Ever.
10. Jamie Lee Curtis. The “Scream Queen,” she has made the horror genre her own. Her first and latest (and finest) incarnation as Laurie Strode in my favourite horror movie Halloween will be her legacy even though her talents have shone through her whole career.
11. Whoopie Goldberg I remember watching The Color Purple and being blown away by the talent of this versatile actress. She is timeless.
12. Ava Gardner ”The truth is, honey, I’ve enjoyed my life. I’ve had a hell of a good time.” Ava partied with the best in Hollywood’s Golden Age, had 3 husbands, (including Frank Sinatra) and put two fingers up to whoever disagreed with her. Loved her!
13. Chris Evert Lloyd 18 Grand Slam Titles. Enough said.
14. Jean Harlow The original “Platinum Blonde.”
15. Virginia Wade Winner of 1977 Wimbledon Women’s Tennis title. I never forget watching it at age 11.
16. Jennifer Saunders Master comedienne. Jennifer Saunders is, quite simply, the funniest woman on the planet. You can quote me.
17. Mrs Sloper My second-year history teacher at Secondary School. Mrs Sloper brought history alive for me, which resulted eventually in an Honours degree and a life long desire to drag Andy around every ruined castle I can find.
18. Anne Boleyn In times when women truly were secondary, Anne made the Tudor court her own for six long years, such was her courage, charm and underlying steely determination to be Queen. It didn’t end well for her but she would have found much to be proud of in her daughter Elizabeth I.
19. Agatha Christie My favourite author by far! And she was born in Torquay! (my home town.)
20. My daughter Clever, funny, beautiful; I couldn’t be more proud.
21. Judy Garland A tragic tale, Judy was abused by the studios who offered fame and fortune. Later, abandoned and discarded by them, she fought a battle with drink and drugs that she was never going to win. She has always struck me as an incredibly courageous woman.
22. Charlotte Tilbury My go-to makeup brand, Charlotte’s backstory is an interesting one. Google her!
23. Kate Bush Singer, songwriter and producer; Kate wrote the classic song Wuthering Heights at age 18. Genius!
24. Davina McColl I have been exercising for 15 years to Davina’s DVD’s. Davina is inspirational, funny and self deprecating, which makes her perfect in my eyes.
25. Emma Hill I’m not a fan of the current Mulberry Head of Design, but Emma was in charge during the golden years. Under her guidance, Cara Delavigne, Alexa Chung et al, created the Mulberry icons that I still lust after today.
26. Jane Fonda The original exercise queen, Jane was my inspiration in the 1980’s. Never mind wanting to look like Jane, I wanted to be Jane!
27. Meryl Streep Probably one of the best actresses of our time, Streep wasn’t afraid to suffer for her art and incredibly has 21 Academy Award nominations.
28. Mary Portas Mary, who became Mary Queen of Shops in 2007, retail guru and high street expert, it was not only Mary’s ‘take no crap’ attitude that appealed to me, but also her work ethic.
29. Josie Harapp My friend and a surrogate mother figure, her favourite saying “just keep going” stays with me, 18 months after her death from cancer,
30. Annie Lennox I loved Annie in The Tourists days through to The Eurythemics and beyond. What a voice! “The sisters are doin’ it for themselves” in collaboration with Aretha Franklin, remains a favourite.
31. Judy Dench Our national treasure. I will watch anything with Dame Judy in it.
32. Maggie Smith Downton Abbey brought her genius to a new generation, but Maggie Smith had been a star on the stage, film and television since 1952. And she is still formidable!
33. Victoria Beckham Always my favourite Spice Girl, Victoria, although on paper having a charmed life, has had to deal with more than her share of the downside of fame. I salute her for transforming into the powerful fashion icon she has become.
34. Mary Quant The ultimate style icon, best known fo reinventing the mini skirt, I love Mary’s style. I copy it whenever I can and am a shameless Quant groupie.
35. Kate Winslet You can’t help but love Kate, bullied at school, she went on to become an Oscar winning actress, rescued Richard Bransons mother from a fire, and is married to a man called Ned Rocknroll. Wow, Kate! We all want to be you.
36. Empress Matilda You may not have heard of her, but this courageous woman took the English throne in 1141 in a world where it was unheard of for a woman to rule. She would have held on to it to, if it hadn’t been for her pesky cousin Stephen.
37. Emilia Fox I love quirky Emilia. Her unique style is something I try (and consistently fail) to emulate.
38. Jessica Ennis Hill The 2012 London Olympic champion, Jessica inspired thousands of young women and girls to take up sport.
39. J K Rowling Apparently, the idea for Harry Potter ‘strolled’ into her head while she was writing and trying to stay warm in a cheap cafe. Stuff of fairytales. Literally.
40. Helena Bonham Carter Helena, the most eccentric actor I can think of, has the most wonderful sense of style. DM’s paired with ball gowns. We love you.
41. Katherine Hepburn Another ballsey actress, Kathryn had a 26 yr long romance with Spencer Tracy though he never divorced his wife. Box office gold!
42. Elizabeth Taylor It’s hard to know how best to sum up much married, Oscar winning Elizabeth. Suffice to say, my favourite quote of hers is “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”
43. Susan Jeffers Author of the best self-help book ever, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
44. Elizabeth I Daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, she was multilingual and highly accomplished. Her unstable upbringing which saw her mother executed, and herself nearly so, only strengthened her resolve to keep her throne, and England, steady which she did for 44 years.
44. Bette Davis Bette is known as one of the greatest actresses ever to grace screen or stage with 10 Oscar nominations. She didn’t mind playing unsympathetic characters in strong and complex roles. She behaved badly and enjoyed riling people… (particularly Joan Crawford), but we loved her for it.
45. Jackie Kennedy Onassis Jackie was already America’s sweetheart before the death of her first husband John F Kennedy which she faced with stoic dignity and grace. Her later marriage to billionaire Aristotle Onassis meant she became a favourite of the gossip columnists, but she never lost her cool, aloof style and her fashion sense was copied worldwide.
46. Margaret Beaufort Grandmother of Henry VIII, it is hard to grasp the vast influence of this Tudor matriarch. Married at 12, she later became a key figure in The Wars of The Roses and established two colleges at Cambridge.
47. Audrey Hepburn Epitomy of French style, Audrey was not only a wonderful actress but the ultimate fashion icon.
48. Louise Brooks The original girl with a bob haircut, Louise was a 1920’s actress and a ‘flapper icon’ which is a wonderful epithet in itself!
49. Oprah Winfrey Born into poverty she rose to become the most successful female media giant on the planet … and has donated over $800 million to charity.
50. Diana Ross I remember reading about Diana in my teens and being so impressed by the ruthless way she fought her way to the top of the tree at Motown … and stayed there.
I hope you like my list! Please let me know who is on yours! ❤️