Happy International Women’s Day! Growing up with three sisters, I find it easy to identify with and look up to other women, and I am so proud and happy to be one. But being proud of who you are and who you identify with doesn’t mean it’s easy to be female. I didn’t fully realize how much my gender affected my experiences until I enrolled in a Sociology course in college. After that course, I started analyzing how women are portrayed in the media, different cultures, and throughout the world. I read more about human trafficking, how women are nearly nonexistent in many careers and political structures, and generally paid less than their male counterparts.
But keep your chin up, darling: we live in an exciting time where more and more females are standing up and speaking out. It’s about damn time we break stereotypes, shatter glass ceilings, and support one another. Here are 5 must-read books from badass females who are doing just that:
In the Company of Women, Grace Bonney
I flip through the pages of this book every morning before work. The photography is stunning and every interview is inspiring. Seriously. Women of all ages, looks, occupations, and backgrounds are featured in this book, and there is something unique yet relatable in each of them. They are go-getters, they are complex, and they are women in every sense of the word.
It’s What I Do, Lynsey Addario
This book is impossible to put down. Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist who risks her life to bring attention to the stories few people are bold enough to follow. From photographing war, the plight of refugees, as well as everyday people from all over the world, her work is as stunning and bold as her writing is in this book. She is a total badass who doesn’t allow anything, including her own fears, to hold her back from following her calling. I’m currently reading it for a third time. It’s that good.
Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, Lena Dunham
No matter what you think of Lena Dunham or her work, you can’t deny that she is ambitious, powerful, and unafraid to stand up for what she believes in. At twenty-three years old, I can barely keep up with this blog on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, by her early twenties Lena Dunham was writing, starring in, and directing her popular show, Girls, for HBO. She is someone that knows she has a voice and wants to make it heard. She is a self-defining feminist who takes ownership of her body and her words in order to further a greater cause, and I am thankful for that. This book will inspire you, make you reflect on your own experience as a woman and as an individual, and encourage you to stop giving in to laziness and start creating art.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer is always hilarious with her words. The bottom line is that it can be hard to be a human, let alone a female. Life is challenging enough, and to add to this stress, society promotes so many ideals and definitions on what a woman should be, do, and look like. Amy Schumer’s book takes complex and difficult subjects, such as what it means to be a woman in today’s world, and makes you laugh while you reflect. You can relate to her stories, learn from them, and be inspired by them.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
This book will bring you tears and make you smile from ear to ear. It does not sugarcoat the hardships women all over the world are forced to face, such as abuse, oppression, childbirth, and sex slavery. Through one-on-one interviews, research studies, and success stories, this book documents the struggle women face and the benefits of promoting equality. The book was named after the Chinese proverb: “Women hold up half the sky,” and by the time you are finished reading, you will realize the powerful truth behind that saying.
Even though it will always affect you, I hope you never let the world around you define you. Create yourself, love yourself, be yourself.