Mar 31, 2022
The Top 10 Women I Admire in Honor of Women’s History Month
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I’d like to share with you a roundup of my top ten women who inspire, encourage and educate me on a daily basis. As I like to say, if you know that you can make a difference, you have to. Each of these women—in very different ways—has empowered me to become my very best self and to make a difference, no matter how small, in the world we all share.
All had faith in themselves, took a stand and changed the world in some way. I can’t tell you how much I respect that: doing good and changing the world. What these powerhouses on my list also share is a solid strength that comes from truly knowing yourself, a willingness to overcome obstacles at all odds and a certain remarkable grace that they carry through life.
I hope this post inspires you to think about the women who have been a catalyst for change in your own life. They are out there, these mentors (known personally or from afar) who encourage and bring out the best in each and every one of us. I believe that as long as we be good, think good and do good, we will be rewarded with overflowing goodness in our own lives.
Me with my mother Libbie and daughter Chloe: three generations of strong, wonderful women.
At the top of my list of inspiring women is someone I owe my life to, literally—my mother, Libbie Queller. Growing up, I didn’t realize how much I learned from my mother: particularly how to be patient and how to be kind. I also deeply admire my mother’s strength. She is quiet and soft-spoken, but true strength in a woman comes from inner centeredness and knowing who you are. At 102 years old… yes, 102!... she’s lived a long and rich life because she didn’t let things bother her, she never got upset or flustered. She’s a wonderful and lovely person who has inspired me every single day of my life.
I continue to be amazed and in awe of Geraldine Stutz, the head and owner of Henri Bendel’s for 30 years, starting in the ‘50s. When you think about where women were at in the ‘50s and ‘60s, you can appreciate the force she really was. She created something very special during a time when doing so was not easy for women. She changed the face of fashion with Henri Bendel and the “Street of Shops”—an entirely different way of looking at retail and opened the field for new designers who would never have been given a chance if it wasn’t for her. She was a strong, empowered woman and, as my boss many years ago, she was, and will always be, an inspiration and a mentor.
Me and my lookalike Meryl.
Aside from the fact that everybody tells me I look a lot like her (which is why I have to love her, right?), she is also, as we all know, incredibly talented. What I love about her is that she has chosen her own path in life. She’s a bona fide Hollywood star that chooses to live outside the Hollywood hoopla while creating a seamless work/life balance. She’s an inspiration as a woman; she is grounded, centered and someone to look up to.
Who is not inspired by Maya Angelou? She just had to be on my list. Her words are moving, beautiful and inspirational. Being a woman of color, her challenges were great, and yet she still managed to move forward, stand out and leave a lasting and beautiful impact on our culture with the sheer poetry of her words.
Malene Barnett founded The Black Artists and Designers Guild to provide a platform for people of color.
Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash.
I can’t say enough about Malene Barnett. She’s an artist, but, most importantly, she spearheaded The Black Artists and Designers Guild. She began this movement just at the right time to give Black artists, designers and other design professionals a voice and a platform with which to promote themselves. Her passion and commitment to her culture, her history and her heritage is what makes her a force of nature. What an inspiration!
My longtime idol Gloria Steinem changed the world view on women.
Photo by Lona on Unsplash
There is SO much to say about Gloria Steinem. She inspired me as a girl, and I owe so much to her, as so many of us women do. Her activism changed how women lived and how people viewed women. She planted the seeds of desire for women to be independent and self-reliant. I personally owe her a debt of gratitude: I am the woman I am today because of the opportunities she forged. I am an independent woman running my own business, raising my kids and having my own ambitions. Thank you Gloria Steinem for leading the way!
She rocks the world! She is unapologetically who she is, age notwithstanding. And how can you not love that? A woman who is so comfortable in her own skin that she celebrates it and flaunts it. She’s a true inspiration to me, aging gracefully and owning who you are at every age.
As the founder of Spanx, she is an amazing, modern woman! I wish I knew her personally. She established her brand from nothing, reinventing a whole category of women’s fashion. Today, she’s a billionaire with a capital B. In addition to her ingenuity and creativity, what I also find inspiring is her philanthropy. There’s nothing more rewarding than giving back!
Oprah! Need I say more? Oprah picked herself up by the bootstraps and to this day makes an impact on the world around her. I admire how she has brought her spirituality into her brand and am deeply moved by the work she does for women and people of color. She lives my mantra of “if you know you can make a difference, you have to,” always motivating people to be good, think good and do good.
Jane Fonda was an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam.
Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash
Another strong woman who has taught us all how to navigate living in a man’s world. From a young age, she’s been her own moral compass. She stood up against wars, she’s an activist, and she speaks out unapologetically about issues that concern her. I applaud her continual self-reinvention—from her very first film as Barbarella to most recently starring in Grace and Frankie today at 84.
These are the women who inspire me. I’d love to know which women inspire you the most! Comment below and let’s keep the celebration of incredible women going all year long.