5 High-Profile Women I Adore and Admire
Disclaimer: I recognize all of these women have significant flaws and foibles but for one reason or another, I have chosen to highlight the positive characteristics about each woman that inspires me.
1. Tina Turner
Since I was a toddler uttering “Tina Turn-ner-ner,” I have always adored Ms. Turner’s sass and sultry raspy singing. When I grew older, I dragged my mother to the movie theater to see “What’s Love Got to Do with It” a dramatized version of Ms. Turner’s biography. I watched how she rose to fame and fortune alongside her drug-addled husband Ike, battled against him, and fought poverty as a result of leaving him only to emerge successful on her own yet again. Her sheer inner strength and optimism inspired me as a teenager and continues to inspire me now.
Back in the early 80s when American Bandstand’s Dick Clark asked a young Madonna what she wanted to do, she declared, “I want to rule the world.” Indeed, Ms. Ciccone has done pretty much that. People debate her talent but no one can debate her shrewdness and clever marketing ability. (Lady Gaga watched a master at work here.) Madonna, now well into her 50s, has shown consistent dedication and discipline in evolving, not only as a fashion and pop music icon, but also as a woman with staying power. She may not enjoy all the success she once enjoyed in her prime but she’s managed to remain relevant—something very few of her peers have been able to successfully do.
3. Hillary Clinton
During the early 90s, I remember Ms. Clinton taking tons of heat for trying to introduce universal health care legislation to Congress because it wasn’t what a First Lady was “supposed” to do. Republicans may have hated her from that point on, but the former First Lady garnered my respect ever since. I admired Ms. Clinton’s ability to use her high-profile position to lobby for health care reform and watched her become vilified and forced into the traditional meek First Lady role. During my brief internship, I was able to see what the former New York Senator did first-hand as she brought grants for firefighters and policemen to various towns in the state of New York (including my hometown!), fought to keep military bases open so that cities wouldn’t be shut down and hundreds of people would be put out of work, and championed hard for SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program). As Secretary of State, Ms. Clinton has represented America with a gentle yet firm hand, handling her mistakes with the grace befitting a former First Lady. Her strength and dedication to serve Americans inspires me again and again.
4. Michelle Obama
I’ll admit, I had my doubts about Barack Obama’s wife as she stood by his side on the campaign trail before he was elected president but she has pleasantly surprised me by stepping into her role as First Lady with grace and ease I never saw before. She has become a tireless champion in getting America to eat healthier, advocating for communities to eat fresh and eat local by way of connection with local farmers, and encouraging children to exercise more and eat right in the battle against obesity. While I don’t always agree with her stance on everything, she is encouraging Black communities to take ownership of their lives and their future—and I cannot begrudge that at all.
5. Tyra Banks
Ms. Banks has navigated the modeling arena with a down-to-earth attitude, incredible business savvy, and bright enthusiasm in a world that can be bleak with drugs and eating disorders. Her success is a generational mirror reflecting that of another female pioneer, Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Banks’s talk show, Tyra, has proven that she is not a dumb, air-headed woman—that she is, in fact, just like the rest of us with body insecurities, crazy moments, and tons of generosity. She has been beaten down for her fluctuating weight by tabloids and fought back by encouraging women to embrace their bodies and develop a positive body image.