Beauty is…everywhere.

I like to think my sense of the beautiful only grows as I come to recognize more forms of caring and resilience and to appreciate a wider range of shapes and sizes and colors and textures. On my best days, I see it everywhere, and the more I see it, the more space it takes up, which is wonderful.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, I chatted with Dr Penny Weiss, the Director of Women’s Studies at St Louis University.


 

Can you give me just a little bit of background. Where are you from? Where did you go to school? What brought you to St Louis?

I am a native of Miami, Florida and a graduate of the University of South Florida. I went toslu_vert_blue university-of-south-florida-logograd school in the Midwest and have since spent most of my adult life here. I came to STL in 2008 because I had the chance to move from a position in a political science department to one in a women’s studies program, and from a rural setting outside a small city to the big city. It was a phenomenal switch!

 

What drew you to Women’s Studies? Was there one turning point or “ah ha!” moment?

I came of age when WS programs were starting and the women’s movement was hitting another peak. What drew me? Everything: the questions, the people, the politics, the passion, the purpose, the activism, the festivals. Women’s Studies, like feminism itself, made (and continues to make) sense of my life.

What is a common misconception you encounter when you are discussing feminism?

I think, unfortunately, that people know more about what anti-feminists say feminism is than what feminists say. Among the most persistent misconceptions: reproductive justice only means a right to abortion; most religions are incompatible with feminism; feminism means whatever any individual chooses to say it means (and feminism means you can’t criticize any choice anyone makes); and then there are the oldies but goodies…feminists hate men, are all lesbians, are selfish, are (too) aggressive and demanding, are unreasonable in their demands, etc.

It’s Women’s History Month; who are some women from history you have loved learning about?

Emma Goldman, Anna Julia Cooper, Christine de Pizan, Mary Astell, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many more. Just as important, I loved learning about the work women together did to bring about change, in organizations from anti-slavery associations and women’s labor groups to peace leagues and suffrage associations. And all that work is still being carried on around the world!

 

I recently came across this image and the idea it reflects online:

What are your thoughts on this? Can we fairly say that general history courses are to men what women’s studies courses are to women?

The cartoon is still all-too-true. We know that we still do not know about women’s lives to the extent we know about men’s. It is the accomplishments of men (especially in politics and economics, narrowly defined) that have been deemed historically important, the deeds of men (especially in war, industry, and government) that have determined the ways we distinguish one historical period from another (such as pre-Civil War or post-industrial), and the arenas in which men acted (military, legal, etc.) that important things worth recording were said to happen. This leaves out three things: the impact of all of these deeds and events on various groups of women, the stories of women’s lives both within these boundaries (at work, in political office) and beyond them (in the community, participating in street riots, as victims of gender-based violence, as caregivers, raising crops and children, as activists, etc.), and how we might reconceive historical eras (and philosophical schools of thought, etc.) once we read women into them. I’d say that “general history courses are to men what women’s history courses are to women,” rather than “what women’s studies courses are to women,” because we teach much more than women’s history (including the study of masculinity).

Who are some women in your life that have inspired you?

My two daughters amaze me. My colleagues and students in Women’s and Gender Studies amaze me. The women in my neighborhood who keep on keeping on amaze me.

What is your definition of beauty?

That it evolves (I’m not attracted to the same things or people I was 20 years ago, nor do I aspire to the same ideals I did then) and mostly involves appreciation. I like to think my sense of the beautiful only grows as I come to recognize more forms of caring and resilience and to appreciate a wider range of shapes and sizes and colors and textures. On my best days, I see it everywhere, and the more I see it, the more space it takes up, which is wonderful.

Beauty is everywhere (1)

Beauty is…making your own opportunities

 

CJ Walker (1)CJWalker

Sarah Breedlove was the first free-born child of her parents, Minerva and Owen Breedlove. She was born on December 23, 1867 in Delta, Louisiana. Though her parents encouraged their children to get an education, the KKK burned down many schools for African American kids in Louisiana.

 

 

 

Sarah’s parents were sharecroppers, and she worked the cotton fields for 12 hours a day before coming home to dig potatoes for the next night’s dinner, feed the chickens, and sweep the yard. On Saturdays, she and her mother and sister (Louvenia) washed clothes for themselves and white people. They got 1$ a week for washing. 

Sarah’s mother and father succumbed to disease and she and her siblings were orphaned by 1875; Sarah was 7. One of their brothers, Alex, went to Vicksburg to look for work, and the girls did laundry day and night in order to survive. When crops failed, the girls went to Vicksburg as well. Louvenia married a cruel and dangerous man, and Sarah lived with them until she could stand it no longer and got married herself. She was just 14.

 

LeilaWalker
Sarah’s daughter, Leila

After her husband died, Sarah moved to St Louis where she had heard that laundresses could make good money and where there was a large black community. Her brothers were there working in a barber shop, and Sarah learned about hair care from them. She worked hard and was determined to save enough to send her daughter, Leila, to school. Sarah also collected money for St Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, where African Americans could go to learn to read and write, though it was illegal for them to go to school. By 1902, Sarah had saved enough to send her daughter Leila to Knoxville College.

Sarah spent time in women’s kitchens as they tried to straighten and restore their hair. Her own hair was weak and she was going bald. All of the so-called cures only made it worse.

At the 1904 World’s fair in St Louis, she heard Booker T Washington’s wife, Margaret Washington, speak. Sarah was struck by Margaret’s poise, her confidence, and her hair. Sarah went to bed praying that God would stop her hair from falling out. That night Sarah had a dream of Africa– the earth, soil, and vegetation. She knew she had her answer. She would seek out oils and herbs that were native to Africa and try them on her hair.

In 1905, Sarah learned that one of her brothers had died. She moved to Denver to be with his wife and children. In an attic room, she set up her laboratory and got to work developing a formula for her hair. During the day, she worked as a cook for Mr. E.L. Scholtz, who owned the largest pharmacy in Denver. When she thought she finally had her formula just right, she tried it on herself. And it worked! Her hair began growing back in faster than it had ever fallen out.

National Museum of African American History and Culture: Product

She began going door to door with her three new products: Vegetable Shampoo, Wonderful Hair Grower, and Glossine. She would wash women’s hair with the shampoo, apply the hair grower to nourish the scalp, then apply the Glossine with a specially designed metal comb that had been heated on a stove. She was careful to avoid using words like “good hair” (which usually referred to white hair) and “bad hair” (which usually referred to black hair) because she found them, and the idea behind them, insulting. Most hair care companies were owned by white men, who advertised to African Americans by telling them how unattractive they were and glorifying long straight hair. Black ministers, on the other hand, preached against women straightening their hair instead of remaining how God had created them. Sarah believed that what a woman did with her hair should be her own business, not a man’s.

She used her own before and after pictures in her advertisements, not images of light Madame-CJ-Walker-before-and-afterskinned women with long light colored hair. She conveyed confidence and self-worth in her advertisements, something that was often lacking for women– and especially women of color– at the time.

 

In 1905, Sarah married Charles Walker, and changed her name, and the name of her company, to Madame CJ Walker. She moved to Pittsburgh, where she and Leila (who had finished school by then), trained salespeople, or agents, to go into women’s kitchens and show them how to use Walker’s products. Every customer was a potential agent, and Madame Walker and Leila talked to them not only about health and beauty, but also about self-sufficiency. They told women they could earn money in a respected profession as a hairdresser or saleswoman, while still being good wives and mothers. Agents could expect to make $5.00 a week, which was a pretty penny in a time when black women typically only made about half that. Black men made about $5.00 a week, while white men could expect to make around $17.00 per week.


CJWalkerCar2In just two years, Madame Walker had nearly one hundred representatives and was making $400.00 a week. She opened the Leila College of Hair Culturists. Women flocked to the college to learn a new profession that would give them pride and independence. Madame Walker left Leila in charge of the business in Pittsburgh, and moved to Indianapolis to spread her products. By 1911, the company was making more than $3,000 a week (about $70,000 in today’s money). For a business run by a black woman, this was almost inconceivable.

In Indianapolis, Madame Walker was outraged when she was asked to pay more for a movie ticket than a white person had to pay. Then and there she began design plans for the Walker building, which would cover an entire city block and include office and factory space, as well as a movie theater for the city’s African American population. The more Madame Walker made, the more she gave, pouring money and energy into her community. In 1913, she made the largest donation of any African American to the construction of the Indianapolis YMCA. She rewarded her agents for making contributions to their community as well.

She divorced Mr Walker in 1913. That same year  she attended the National Negro
unnamed Business League convention in Chicago. She was the richest black woman in America, yet she could not get the attention of the speaker, Booker T Washington. Finally, she stood up and demanded his attention. “Surely you are not going to shut the door in my face,” she said. She told her story. She spoke of cotton fields and the Ku Klux Klan burning schools. She spoke of washtubs and starting her own business. Then she said something no man there had said, “My object in life is not simply to make money for myself, but to use part of what I make to help others.”

And help others she did. Along with giving thousands of women like her the training and opportunities they needed to create a better life for themselves, she was a voice for her people. She once demanded a meeting with the President to address violence against African Americans. When she heard Woodrow Wilson was in a meeting about a farm feed bill and could not be bothered, she wasted no time expressing her anger: “You are talking to us of animal feed when colored people are being murdered in the streets!” In 1919 Madam Walker became seriously ill while on a trip to St Louis. She was rushed home, where she ordered her accountants to make a donation of $5,000 to the anti-lynching fund of the NAACP. It was the largest donation the organization had ever received.

CJWalkerCarBefore she died she said, “I want to live to help my race.”

Madam CJ Walker not only helped her race, she has helped countless women by proving that when life doesn’t provide you with opportunities, you have to make them yourself.

She followed her own path. And that is beautiful.


Sources:

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker by Kathryn Lasky

madamcjwalker.com

 

Beauty is…sitting down

These ladies, and so many others like them, were on the right side of history. And that is beautiful.

They sat. A nation stood. Celebrating Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin

 

Rosa Parks

“Mother Superior of the Civil Rights movement”

Today we celebrate Rosa Parks Day. And for good reason. It was Rosa who drew nation gty_rosa_parks_mug_kb_ss_130203_sshwide attention to Montgomery Alabama, where transportation segregation was rampant. And legal. What I didn’t realize– and you may not have known either– is that Rosa was sitting in “her” section of the bus. So, she was actually following the law. But when all the seats filled up and a white man was left standing, the bus driver demanded that Rosa give up her seat for him. She refused. And the rest is HERtory.

It is a very special thing to learn what happened from the woman herself, in her own words.  Take it away Tom Brokaw…

 

(I grabbed this video from YouTube, but it is also available on NBC Learn. It originally aired in 1995)

But before Rosa, there was Claudette…


 Claudette Colvin

Civil Rights activist, Medical professional (1939-)

I first heard Claudette’s story on an episode of Drunk History. I was in awe. Here was this fierce little 15 year old girl, who refused to give up her seat on the bus NINE MONTHS BEFORE Rosa Parks did it. According to the episode (and this article by NPR), Rosa Parks was a sectary for the NAACP who had a natural gravitas. Parks was an adult, with the right look and the right hair. She would be the face of the boycott. Colvin was young, had darker skin, and got pregnant soon after her arrest– not the poster child the NAACP was looking for.

Civil Rights (2)

Recalling that day, Claudette says she remembers it was Negro history month at her (segregated) school. Her head was swimming with the stories of leaders like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. Her class had talked about the injustices they faced every day under the Jim Crow laws. Injustices like not being able to eat at a lunch counter, or try on clothes. She remembers, “We couldn’t try on clothes. You had to take a brown paper bag and draw a diagram of your foot…and take it to the store.” With all of these images fresh in her mind, she had finally had enough. That day she would not be moved. She would not get off that bus– she says she felt like she had Sojourner Truth on one side of her and Harriet Tubman on the other, holding her down in that seat.

When Claudette refused to give up her seat, the bus driver notified police. I will let Claudette tell the rest of the story herself:

CLAUDETTE: One of them (the police officers) said to the driver in a very angry tone, “Who is it?” The motorman pointed at me. I heard him say, “That’s nothing new . . . I’ve had trouble with that ‘thing’ before.” He called me a “thing.” They came to me and stood over me and one said, “Aren’t you going to get up?” I said, “No, sir.” He shouted “Get up” again. I started crying, but I felt even more defiant. I kept saying over and over, in my high-pitched voice, “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right!” I knew I was talking back to a white policeman, but I had had enough.

One cop grabbed one of my hands and his partner grabbed the other and they pulled me straight up out of my seat. My books went flying everywhere. I went limp as a baby—I was too smart to fight back. They started dragging me backwards off the bus. One of them kicked me. I might have scratched one of them because I had long nails, but I sure didn’t fight back. I kept screaming over and over, “It’s my constitutional right!” I wasn’t shouting anything profane—I never swore, not then, not ever. I was shouting out my rights.

It just killed me to leave the bus. I hated to give that white woman my seat when so many black people were standing. I was crying hard. The cops put me in the back of a police car and shut the door. They stood outside and talked to each other for a minute, and then one came back and told me to stick my hands out the open window. He handcuffed me and then pulled the door open and jumped in the backseat with me. I put my knees together and crossed my hands over my lap and started praying.

All ride long they swore at me and ridiculed me. They took turns trying to guess my bra size. They called me “nigger bitch” and cracked jokes about parts of my body. I recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Twenty-third Psalm over and over in my head, trying to push back the fear. I assumed they were taking me to juvenile court because I was only fifteen. I was thinking, ‘Now I’m gonna be picking cotton, since that’s how they punished juveniles’—they put you in a school out in the country where they made you do field work during the day.

But we were going in the wrong direction. They kept telling me I was going to Atmore, the women’s penitentiary. Instead, we pulled up to the police station and they led me inside. More cops looked up when we came in and started calling me “Thing” and “Whore.” They booked me and took my fingerprints.

Then they put me back in the car and drove me to the city jail—the adult jail. Someone led me straight to a cell without giving me any chance to make a phone call. He opened the door and told me to get inside. He shut it hard behind me and turned the key. The lock fell into place with a heavy sound. It was the worst sound I ever heard. It sounded final. It said I was trapped.

When he went away, I looked around me: three bare walls, a toilet, and a cot. Then I feel down on my knees in the middle of the cell and started crying again. I didn’t know if anyone knew where I was or what had happened to me. I had no idea how long I would be there. I cried and I put my hands together and prayed like I had never prayed before.

• • •

MEANWHILE, schoolmates who had been on the bus had run home and telephoned Claudette’s mother at the house where she worked as a maid. Girls went over and took care of the lady’s three small children so that Claudette’s mother could leave. Mary Ann Colvin called Claudette’s pastor, the Reverend H.H. Johnson. He had a car, and together they sped to the police station.

• • •

CLAUDETTE: When they led Mom back, there I was in a cell. I was cryin’ hard, and then Mom got upset, too. When she saw me, she didn’t bawl me out, she just asked, “Are you all right, Claudette?”

Reverend Johnson bailed me out and we drove home. By the time we got to King Hill, word had spread everywhere. All our neighbors came around, and they were just squeezing me to death. I felt happy and proud. I had been talking about getting our rights ever since Jeremiah Reeves was arrested, and now they knew I was serious. Velma, Q.P. and Mary Ann’s daughter, who was living with us at the time, kept saying it was my squeaky little voice that had saved me from getting beat up or raped by the cops.

But I was afraid that night, too. I had stood up to a white bus driver and two white cops. I had challenged the bus law. There had been lynchings and cross burnings for that kind of thing. Wetumpka Highway that led out of Montgomery ran right past our house. It would have been easy for the Klan to come up the hill in the night. Dad sat up all night long with his shotgun. We all stayed up. The neighbors facing the highway kept watch. Probably nobody on King Hill slept that night.

But worried or not, I felt proud. I had stood up for our rights. I had done something a lot of adults hadn’t done. On the ride home from jail, coming over the viaduct, Reverend Johnson had said something to me I’ll never forget. He was an adult who everyone respected and his opinion meant a lot to me. “Claudette,” he said, “I’m so proud of you. Everyone prays for freedom. We’ve all been praying and praying. But you’re different—you want your answer the next morning. And I think you just brought the revolution to Montgomery.”

Excerpt from Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Phillip Hoose (via NPR)


 

Both of these ladies deserve to be honored today. As do the hundreds of civil rights advocates that made the Montgomery bus boycott a success. And the thousands of African Americans that demanded to be heard by peacefully boycotting. If they had given in and taken the bus, we might still be years behind.

These ladies, and so many others like them, were on the right side of history.

And that is beautiful.

3 Beautiful Female Civil Rights Leaders

All of these women, and many more, contributed to the civil rights movement we are so familiar with today. Though the image we see is usually of men in suits giving important speeches, lets not forget about the strong, passionate, brave women who were also on the front lines in the fight for civil liberties.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gets his day, but these ladies deserve to be celebrated, too.

Continue reading “3 Beautiful Female Civil Rights Leaders”

Soccer mom,social worker, advocate

People like Marcy are what make this world beautiful

Meet Marcy, a working mom of two boys. She is proud to be a feminist, an activist, and a soccer mom. Like most moms, her kids keep her busy, motivated, and inspired. What sets her apart is her passion for making a difference. Marcy is tackling huge social issues like domestic violence, child abuse, and poverty every day. She works directly with the families who have been profoundly impacted by these issues.

Social work is a grossly under appreciated, and often misunderstood, line of work. People like Marcy are what make this world beautiful.

Vocation: Social Worker/Activist

Location: Orange County, CA

A bit of background

I’m a mom to two boys, ages 10 and 8. I grew up behind the Orange Curtain (aka Orange County, CA). I’m a feminist and an activist, currently I’m employed  as a social worker. I majored in Women’s Studies in 2007 and taught ballroom dance for a few years before going back to school to become a therapist.

When did you start doing what you are doing?

I finished graduate school in 2013 and although my degree is in counseling/marriage and family therapy, I’ve worked in various settings including a therapist at a domestic violence shelter,  a counselor at a group home for teenage girls on probation and a social worker.  I started as a social worker back in 2013. For almost two years I worked for a non profit that trains and assists foster parents in caring for children placed through Children and Family Services. Currently I work at CFS as a social worker in the continuing courts program. My caseload is generally focused on family reunification and if that doesn’t happen, looking for a permanent placement for the child.  I’ve been an activist as long as I could speak.

Why do you do what you do? Who/What inspired you to take this path?

I sort of just fell into what I do now because of training and past experience. I never aspired to be a social worker but it fits for now. It’s been an opportunity to work on a micro level with some huge social issues (child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, poverty, incarceration, trauma). It was an adjustment at first and I had a lot of conflicting feelings about working in the system but those feelings make me work harder for my clients. I know how many people feel about child welfare  social workers, they see us as busy bodies and kid snatchers and you meet a lot of resistance and every day is a challenge but I love helping families. They don’t always want help at first but with a lot of patience and hope you see a change for the better.

Continue reading “Soccer mom,social worker, advocate”

Mary Wollstonecraft

So if we must define beauty as something worth attaining, let beauty be intelligence. And passion. And independence. Let it be what you say it is. Only then will no one have the power to take it away from you.

If I could sit down and talk to Mary Wollstonecraft, our interview might look something like this…


Who you are: Mary Wollstonecraft

What you do: Write

Where you do what you do: I have lived in various places around London, as well as Paris. At one point, I had hoped to live in America. I had fond visions of the simple and free life I might live there, but those visions were not to become reality.

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and background.

Honestly, I would really rather not. I do not have many fond memories of my childhood. My father was a gambler who pretended to be a farmer. We were shuffled around quite a bit growing up. Moving residences often become quite a common theme throughout my life. My father had a quick and fierce temper, the full force of which my mother, my siblings, and I often felt. I hated my father’s brutality, though it might be said that I inherited more from him than from my weak-willed mother. I have heard it said that I have his temper and the same hatred of restrictions. Better those than weakness, I suppose. I never understood why my mother didn’t fight back. Why she didn’t try harder to give herself and her children a better life. But, had she left, she would not have been able to support herself. And leaving him would have meant loosing her children (we were, after all, his property) and facing social ostracism. Early in life I vowed I would never be dependent upon anyone for my happiness and well-being. I grew to abhor the image of marriage my parents presented. I, instead, have sought a relationship between equals in which both parties are esteemed and respected. As I wrote in my Vindication, a woman who values and flaunts her weakness might “excite tenderness and gratify the arrogant pride of a man, but the lordly caresses of a protector will not gratify a noble mind that pants for and deserves to be respected.”

My mother, though I most certainly never desired to be like her, was nevertheless dear to me. I yearned for her love and attention, like any child does. However, her affections were taken completely by my eldest brother, Ned. In him she saw no fault, and though it was I who held her hand as she breathed her last, I am certain her affection toward him remained steadfast. I will admit, I have felt resentment and jealousy towards him. He, who was free to pursue the desires of his heart without thought to family duties. He entered the military, and though I repeatedly asked for his assistance in the support of our sisters, he was aloof and unfazed in regard to our struggles.

Most abrasive to me was the education I was restricted from pursuing. At home I had learned to read, but I was hungry for more. I was finally able to attend school when we moved to Beverley in the summer of 1770, but I was sorely disappointed in the curriculum at the local girl’s school. While my brothers studied history, mathematics, and Latin, I was expected to be content to learn skills suitable to women, like needlework and simple addition. I have always resented this, and have written several treatises on the importance of education for women and girls. Indeed, how can men judge women as less intelligent and less capable if we are not even given the opportunity to increase our intellect. Determined as I was to be entirely self-reliant, and as I understood that education was the gateway to opportunity, I read and educated myself in earnest. Happily, men such as John Arden helped shaped my intellect and feed my curiosity early on.

Education was the primary focus of your early work. Tell us a bit about the role education played in shaping your life, as well as that of your sisters.

My thoughts on the matter are expressed in my book Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, but the topic is touched upon in other works as well.

 Indeed, I recognized that a girl would certainly not get anywhere in life without the most basic of an education. However, I am not so naive as to think that education alone is a perfect savior. Growing up I heard girls be advised to hide their intellect as not to scare away suitors. What rubbish! Clearly, it is not only the education of girls that needs reforming, but the whole of society itself. As I wrote in Vindication, “men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in…till society can be differently constituted, much cannot be expected by education.”

Nevertheless, education of the whole mind has always been important to me. I myself held many teaching positions early in life, and was gracious enough to employ my sisters in similar positions. However, I never saw teaching as my heart’s passion. As a woman in the 1700s being a governess or an educator are the only somewhat respectable vocations one may consider. So, I took positions as both, and even ran a school of my own at one point, as a means to an end. The end goal, of course, being to maintain my independence and self-reliance.

And what was your heart’s passion, if not teaching?

I wanted above all to be heard. I found the norms of society rather silly and outrageously confining. I wanted to shake people–especially women–out of their haze. Did they not see the bars they were behind? Beautiful though the bars they may be, they were bars just the same. The home is not the only stage on which a woman can shine. I have always been very aware of my social standing and the expectations put on me. And, when possible I have tried to meet them. For instance, as the eldest daughter, it fell on me to provide care for my mother as her health failed, and to support my sisters as they were unwed. I put my plans on hold to be by my mother’s side as she passed from this world. I rescued my sister from an abusive marriage, even when she had second thoughts about leaving her baby behind (again, the child, as the wife, was the property of the husband). I found gainful employment for my sisters, though they continued to complain about their circumstances. When I found constant work as a writer, I sent most of my earnings to them and subsided on less than what would have been considered reasonable.

So, you see, I did not abandon all the trappings of being a woman in the 1700s. But I so deeply desired to. My independence was of the utmost importance to me. I found the fight for independence in France invigorating and inspiring. I longed for a revolution for women, and was hopeful it would come to pass in Paris. After the king was de-throned, women gained many rights they had not enjoyed before, like the right to divorce and inherit property. But, their freedom was short-lived as those who rebelled against the king’s authority began showing us that they would be no better as rulers. Robespierre’s regime put women back under men’s thumbs, and began executing anyone who did not agree with them. They were bloodthirsty and vengeful, and I turned to images of America for inspiration. There, one could be truly free. There, I could be equal to any man.

And that, I suppose, was my heart’s true passion. The equality of all and the end of injustice and oppression.

Continue reading “Mary Wollstonecraft”

Beauty is…changing the world

Malala is by now a household name, and perhaps one of the most beautiful young women of our time.

Malala is by now a household name, and the name of one of the most beautiful young women of our time.

Just in case you live under a rock, you can click here for a lovely presentation about her beautiful self:

She is Malala


If you’re not in the clicking mood, keep reading…

  • She was born in Mingora, in Pakistan‘s Swat Valley, in July of 1997
  • The Taliban began taking over her hometown when she was young. They forced many changes on the people in the Swat Valley, and targeted girl’s schools in particular.
  • Malala’s father founded the school Malala attended, and she did not give up her right to an education. In 2008 she gave a speech calling out the Taliban entitled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
  • In 2009 Malala began anonymously blogging for the BBC. She wrote about living under threats from the Taliban. You know, the typical stuff 12 year old girls deal with.
  • In 2011, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
  • When she was 14, she and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her. However, they thought that even the Taliban would not harm a child.
  • In October 2012, a masked man boarded her school bus (more of a truck, really) and asked for Malala. When a couple of the kids looked towards her, the man held a gun to her face and shot her. She was hit in the left side of her head. Two other girls were also injured.
  • In November 2012, the Malala Fund was created. First, with the mission to aid with her medical expenses. When she had recovered she said, “I am fine. Help the other Malalas.” So, they did. And they have continued to do so.
  • Incredibly, she returned to school (in England this time) in March 2013.
  • In July 2013, she spoke at the United Nations.
  • In October 2013, her book “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” was published.
  • That same month, Malala was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.
  • She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize first in 2013, then again in 2014, when she became the youngest person to ever win the prize.
  • On her 18th birthday, she opened a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. She urged her supporters to tell world leaders to invest in “books, not bullets.” She wrote: “The shocking truth is that world leaders have the moneu to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world– but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

Needless to say, Malala is everything a human should be. She is brave, passionate, and active. She sees clearly the obstacles in the way of her mission, and she speaks out tirelessly against them. She is truly changing the world.

And that is beautiful.

(image from communitytable.parade.com)