Working Moms, Wrinkles and What Makes A Strong Woman

We’re taking a little side trip on the blog today.

It’s been an interesting news week for women. Some of the stories include:

CNN Commentator says Ann Romney Shouldn’t Advise Husband Because She’s Never Worked Outside of the Home

Ashley Judd Writes Op-Ed Responding to the Obsession with her ‘Puffy Face’ and the Objectification of Women

Pregnant Jessica Simpson Called Fat On The Today Show by Expert Doctor

Military Rape Victims Discharged Because They Have a ‘Personality Disorder’

Romney Claims 92% of Job Losses in the Economy Affect Women

How Hilary Clinton Got Hot After Years of Being Stuck with a Cold Image  (I didn’t make that headline up)

Do you think the media might consider Harry Reid’s hotness factor? Sigh.

I thought it might be a good time to dig in the archives and share this post about what makes a strong woman.


The protagonist in my WIP is a German-American woman living in the 1890’s who overcomes several obstacles in her life. (What would a good novel be without a few obstacles?) Death, disaster and betrayal are just a few. She rises above this to do something extraordinary for the times in which she lives. As the story shapes itself on the page, I’ve been thinking about the attributes of what society considers a ‘strong woman’. What are they?

Is it self-sacrifice?

Mother Teresa, image courtesy Evert Odekerken, Creative Commons

Is it physical strength?

image courtesy United States Air Force, public domain

Is it the ability to succeed in a man’s world?

Supreme Court of the United States, 2005, public domain

Is it being a leader?

Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King, 1955, public domain

Is it facing sorrow with grace?

image courtesy Oxfam East Africa, Creative Commons

Is it living life her way instead of society’s way?

Lady Gaga, Italy, June 2011, image courtesy Sricsi, Creative Commons

Is it living life in the face of death?

image courtesy mav, Creative Commons

Is it living ordinary life?

mother and child in Mumbai, Creative Commons

Question: What character traits would you list to describe a ‘strong woman’? Why do you think we are still struggling with how women are represented in today’s culture?

10 thoughts on “Working Moms, Wrinkles and What Makes A Strong Woman

  1. I think all those can be true. I also think it’s living honestly enough, bravely enough to admit that you can’t live life alone, isolated. Being strong enough to let people in, be transparent, accept help. Then get up and do it again when being open invites pain.


    • Hey, Flea! Thanks so much for stopping by! I agree with you about admitting you can’t live life alone. Being humble enough to be vulnerable when you are hurting or need help is a big strength. I think pride and fear can keep us from being as open as we should be. Past experiences where we lost trust in someone, too. Takes courage for sure. Good traits to add to the list!


  2. Love all these great pictures!
    And each woman shows strength in one way or another.

    Other than the women that sadly are in circumstances outside of their control, like famine and war-torn countries, my personal definition of a strong woman would be one that has the courage to look inside herself and know who she is and what brings her fulfillment. And then courageously pursuing “her thing” to the best of her ability and not allowing the naysayers to pull her down.


  3. I love the idea of ‘the courage to look inside herself and know who she is’. Many women, and men for that matter, live a shallow self-existence because it is too painful or too hard to examine the essence of what makes them who they are, or they lack the motivation and self-confidence to face who they are, warts and all. Realizing your weaknesses and taking advantage of strengths to become the best person you can be is a courageous thing.

    Janet, speaking of women who pursue their ‘thing’, I loved your post today about Diana Nyad and Roz Savage. Two perfect examples! Everyone check out Janet’s post today, it’s inspiring!


  4. Your WIP sounds interesting. I’m a Kindleaholic so I hope it will be e-published. The pictures you posted are wonderful. Everyone of those women has/had a strength that amazes me. All I can think to add is the strength to follow your convictions in the face of fear, adversity and mental & physical fatigue. There isn’t a single woman you’ve listed that hasn’t done that.
    Thank you for reminding us.


  5. Hey Kristin, I’ve been gone for quite a while, it’s good to be back and reading what I feel like is a very timely post for me. I love the poetry of Mary Oliver and when I first read this poem I remember thinking, this is what it means to be strong so I’ll share it here:
    “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
    I was a bride married to amazement.
    I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

    When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
    if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
    I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
    or full of argument.

    I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
    ― Mary Oliver
    Looking forward to reading your book! My protagonist is a strong woman too. We need to keep writing about women who rock, who haven’t merely “visited” this world. We owe it to our daughters, our future granddaughters and the generations to come. Thanks for this post!


  6. Kate,
    Glad to have you back! Thanks for the comment. Beautiful poem. I agree with you, we owe it to future mothers, daughters, sisters and leaders to show them where the path has taken us and encourage them to blaze their own trails. 🙂


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