Women I Admire


I was chatting with a girlfriend last night and we got on the topic of women we admire and why. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. We spend so much time as young women (hopefully not just me!) thinking if we were only thinner or more successful or more “fill in the blank” we’d be happier, but our energy seems misplaced. When I think of the women I most admire it’s never for surface reasons — it’s because they’re kind, they’re intelligent, they make me laugh till my cheeks hurt, or they inspire me creatively. I think of my Aunt Shaun and her sparkling sense of humor. My grandmother Rita and her countless years of volunteer work. I think of Joan Didion’s powerful prose, Maira Kalman’s witty paintings, Jackie Kennedy’s poise under devastating circumstances, Diana Vreeland’s spectacular imagination, Maya Angelou’s awe-inspiring strength… I’ve never once given thought to the size of their waists or their numerical successes — why do I so often focus on my own?

I thought it might be interesting to do a group brainstorm — I’d love to hear, who are women you admire and why? If your responses are anything like your book recommendations, we are all in for a treat.

(pictured: Frida Kahlo)


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11 comments on “Women I Admire

  1. Ania

    What a great entry! I so agree with what you said. We live in the times when media are portraying “visual” so more important than “intellectual” but still women like Lena Dunham are out there and Miranda July are out there with their brave writing, public appearances and social media presence which is strongly feminist. However, on the other hand, especially with Dunham, when I see her on the cover of fashion magazines, I am a bit scared that she is just about to be transformed into yet another “pulp fiction girl”. I strongly hope not. I am an image consultant, so it’s hard for me not to think about style, looking good, but I try to look for sanity in all this and not be too consumed with “looking great” obsession to make me happier but to live in a now and have great laughs with my best friends about all this.

  2. Karen

    My mother. She’s a popular and beloved teacher. When people talk about how much they love her, it makes me so proud. My grandmother. She moved here from Italy with only a grade school education and made a life for herself and family. My aunt because she’s traveled almost all over the world on her own. I admire Madonna as an entertainer and businesswoman. Anna Wintour because she is an unapologetic icon. Aerin Lauder because I love how she started her own lifestyle brand. Hillary Clinton, maybe not so popular but I truly do admire her. I think Ivanka Trump is brilliant. Tina Fey because she is brilliant and hilarious. Oh my gosh I have so many!! I can’t forget Vera Wang. It’s amazing what she did for bridal fashion. I could rattle off more but I think I would take up the whole page!

  3. Katie Armour Post author

    Ania – Isn’t it interesting working in the image/fashion industry and weighing these questions…? Big Lena Dunham fan as well. Thanks for taking the time to comment, I was a bit nervous to write the post, your feedback means so much!

    Karen – Your mother, grandmother, and aunt all sound pretty incredible. How lucky you are to have such brave, selfless women around you. They teach us so much by example.

  4. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    This is a topic very near and dear to me. We scrutinize our own looks but people who love and admire us never care about that! And vice versa. Outward appearance is such a small fraction of our attraction and admiration of someone. Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’keeffe, Emma Thompson, Jamie Beck, Lena Dunham, Maya Angelou, Anna Bond, Mary Blair… I’m grateful to say that the list is never ending…

  5. Katie Armour Post author

    Jade – I absolutely love your list. Jamie Beck and Anna Bond are two of the kindest, most gracious women I have had the pleasure of working with. They’ve inspired me a great deal as well — you can spot gems like them a mile away. xx

  6. Phyllis

    Katie ~ I have had the pleasure of reading your blog and Matchbook magazine for a couple of years now. I always enjoy the articles you write, your great fashion sense, and the photos and fashion ideas your curate. And with this post, I can now add that I appreciate your openness! In this world of Pinterest, big time fashion blogs, etc, where one often appears more fabulous, wealthy, PERFECT than the next, it’s SO refreshing to read something that focuses on what really matters! I really do love all the fun, fashion/beauty-oriented blogs, and I have learned a lot from them, but reading your thoughtful post is such a refreshing reminder that there is so much more!

    I admire kindness in anyone. After facially disfiguring cancer surgery, my grandmother would not have ever qualified as a cover girl. BUT there was not a more beautiful person on this planet. Even disfigured, she SHINED. Even with most of her facial muscles removed on one side, she would put on face powder, blush and lipstick every single day! And she was BEAUTIFUL! I wondered so often how that could be when many people would have felt very self-conscious. And I finally realized that it’s because she NEVER, not once, thought about herself ~ how she looked or came across. She was so busy focusing on the other person, whoever she was with; she was always so much more interested in others than in herself.

    I believe the more we focus on and do for others, the more TRULY beautiful, SHINY : ) we become. So, in addition to my sweet grandmother, I admire Ellen Degeneres, Malala Yousafzai, Gabrielle Giffords, Oprah, Melinda Gates. None of them for their fashion sense or waistline or their bank account. I admire them because they seem to be kind, very thoughtful and give so much back to the world. They are what my grandmother would call “the REAL deal”! : )

    Wonderful topic!! Thanks for posting it!

  7. Katie Armour Post author

    Your heartfelt comment made my day. I felt a bit self-conscious this afternoon writing about something other than design. Thank you for welcoming it with such open arms. I assure you I’m just trying to make my way like everyone else — struggles, self-doubts, and all. Your grandmother sounds like a truly beautiful human being inside and out. I’m so glad you shared her story with us and am so thankful to have women like yourself as readers.
    xx Katie
    P.S. Have been anxious to read Malala’s book, soon! And Ellen is my favorite — such humor and such heart.

  8. Maureen Sullivan Stemberg

    I adored Jackie Kennedy, Diana Vreeland whom I meet and she along with Mark Hampton, where my mentors. Most of all
    I so loved Princess Diana… Who become a dear friend in the last two yrs of her life.

    A wonderful post . Thank you !

  9. Marjie

    Katie, I look up to women that stand tall through life’s challenges and persevere with positivity. All the women mentioned above are on my list and I would have to add my Mother. I watched my Mom reinvent herself when she became an empty nester and started working for a national non profit organization. I was truly inspired through her actions and realized you should always follow your heart and never give up because there is always a new beginning waiting.
    Additionally, I also love Matchbook Magazine and am thrilled that you are posting daily on your blog. I learn something new everyday because of your efforts…so thank you!!!

  10. Laura Naples

    Beautifully thought-provoking post…and what a delight it was to spend some moments thinking of the women I’m lucky to have in my life, and those I have admired from afar.

    My mom Sandy, a kindergarten teacher for over 25 years, still everyone’s favorite…who continually puts on a brave face despite never quite reaching an “easy” period of life. My grandmother Jo, who raised my mom on Air Force bases while my grandfather was deployed and at 42, gave birth to a son with Down’s Syndrome who inspires all he meets…my talented sister, artist Kristen Giorgi, who had the vision and “why not?” attitude to turn the side project she and I began together into an enterprise far greater than I ever anticipated. Designer and friend, Colleen Locke of Trot Home, a woman so visually gifted and gracious it’s almost unreal…Kelly Wearstler, who dares to be herself in every maximalist way…Jessie Randall, with innate understated style imbued in everything she designs…artist Karina Bania, whose visual and written works put me into a focused state of emotion…Joslyn Taylor of Swoon the Studio, elegantly artistic, bohemian, insightful, funny and kind. Stevie Nicks, ironically – in her late 60s – making me remember how it feels to be a teenager. Princess Diana, the unforgettable gaze revealing innate gentleness and apprehension. Mother Teresa, her profoundly simple and necessary edicts on love.

  11. Dianne Leggo

    What a wonderfully positive thing for us to be thinking about. My choices are Dr Catherine Hamlin AC, now aged 90, obstrician and gynaecologist, who with her husband co-founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and has worked there since 1959 and still does. What an angel! Less well known internationally, but a wonderful mentor and example to thousands, the late Dr Heide Taylor OAM of Adelaide, who worked tirelessly for Zonta International in their work to improve the status of women. She had many roles but most importantly introduced Zonta Clubs to former Iron Curtain countries. She was a great mentor and much loved friend of mine.

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