In celebration of International Women's Day, I wanted to talk about some women who are really empowering, especially in the World of animal rights as well women who really inspire me to be my best self!
First up I want to talk about the first woman to ever influence me and push me to be my best. My beautiful mother, Marion Fleary. From a young age, I always saw this woman as such an inspiration. Always working so hard. I guess, because of her, hard work was all I knew. Being very frugal, both my parents always taught to work hard and not waste money on things you don't need. And that all paid off because they now own multiple properties and are enjoying their retirement and relishing in the fruits of their labour. They were the first people to teach me all about making short term sacrifices to earn long term rewards. My Mum worked as a nurse in the special care baby unit and although she had 4 children of her own to look after, she would go and work long shifts taking care of other people's babies who were in ill health and nurse them to health to give them the best possible start in life. Even though she wasn't always at home to tuck me in due to a night shift, she'd always give me a kiss goodbye before she left or I'd go in the car with my Dad to drop her off. One memory that sticks in my heart is every lunch time when I would go home for my lunch, there would more often than not be a home cooked meal waiting for me and I would be always be greeted with a hug and a smile from my Mum and we would sit down and watch TV together, despite her doing a night shift the night before. I recently asked her why she didn't just have me do school dinners or packed lunch and her reply was that she wanted me to have the most substantial meals possible to keep me healthy. I mean, if that isn't love, I don't know what is. Not everyone is as blessed as me to have such a strong influential loving mother. Don't get me wrong, we don't always see eye to eye and growing up I did used to get annoyed with how strict she was, I guess because I didn't understand why we couldn't have what everyone else has or go out and play all day instead of having to do chores. But I know that all she did was out of love and for my best interests. I owe all that I am today to my upbringing and because I had such a soldier of a woman to look up to.
Next up is someone who is the complete opposite of my Mum, Pamela Anderson. What I love about her is that she doesn't care what people say about her, she is just unapologetically herself. People have always just seen her as this blonde bombshell, but she is so much more than that and there is more to her than meets the eye. She is such a huge activist for animal rights being part of many PETA campaigns as well as protesting against KFC and she has always been an advocate for anti-fur, speaking out on many occasions about the inhumane practices that take place in the fur industry.
Another woman I absolutely love, who actually encouraged my transition to veganism is Aisha Thalia. She is a vegan activist, model, actress, mother and all round spiritual badass. Her energy is so lit and despite her going through some really tough times of late, she is still showing up on the gram and being a strong influence for her 2 daughters. I love that, some people when their relationship falls apart, they become bitter and so negative. But not Aisha, she may have had her fair share of pain and tears behind closed doors but from what I can see she is still vibrating high. That's what drew me to her and wanting to become vegan. I always used to associate veganism with hippies and tie dye. But seeing someone who looks somewhat like me with such a high vibe (not to mention her post-pregnancy snap-back - NGL, that was a contributing factor) as well as her posting videos of cute kids objections to animal cruelty took me back to when I was 10 and told my parents I refused to be a part of animal cruelty. So I guess that little defiant child inside me made me look into veganism and realise that I had to listen to little Tanekka and go vegan.
Someone who's music I was recently introduced to is Jhene Aiko. She is a troubled soul, with a past of drug abuse, losing her brother to cancer, as well as suffering from depression, which comes through in her music. But the darkness in her heart is portrayed in her music as beautiful and very ethereal. I really can't stop listening to her music because it is so easy to listen to and really touches my spirit. She was also named PETA's sexiest vegetarian back in 2016, which is an added bonus in my book. What I love about her is you can feel that everything she sings about comes from the heart and isn't just for show. She is so transparent through her art. Songs such as Pretty Bird, Jukai, Ascension, Beautiful Ruin, Brave, Wading and You vs Them are just so emotive with headbobbers such as July, Psylocybin, To Live & Die and OLLA (Only Lovers Alive) for a more upbeat chilled out vibe. Listening to her has inspired me to get back into my singing and songwriting, so watch this space.
Jameela Jamil is another woman who empowers women to be their best selves, unapologetically. If you haven't seen her "I weigh" campaign on Insta then you can check it out here. She encourages women to love themselves no matter what their size and to state what they love about themselves instead of what they consider flaws. Thanks to this as well her activism and acting skills she has been named Stylist Magazines Woman of the Year. Rightly so, I say. She is one heck of a woman!
This next woman came into my life whilst I was a teenager crushing over Tyrese Gibson in the John Singleton movie Baby Boy (yes, I know. I'm giving away my age now). Little did I know back then that his co-star Taraji P. Henson would become such a huge influence on women today. You may know her now as Empire's feisty Cookie Lyon, but she has been gracing us with her sassy presence long before that in films such as The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and the remake of Karate Kid as well as in TV shows such as Person of Interest and House. What I admire about this woman is her absolute tenacity. At the age of 25 she was told she was crazy for taking her baby to go and try and conquer Hollywood. She was also told she was too old, but she didn't listen. And thank goodness she didn't because she is such an inspiration to those who know they are destined for more but have people around them who don't have any self belief so tell others not to dream too big. If you don't know much about her story, you really need to read (or listen on Audible as I did) to her book "Around The Way Girl" it's so inspirational. She is also an active anti fur campaigner, being featured in numerous PETA campaigns.
Lily Singh is another woman who is super inspiring. I came across her randomly on Insta and was instantly hooked on her ability to not take herself too seriously. Her sketches are super funny and her energy is so contagious. She uses humour in order to get her point across about serious topics, which actually makes you sit and think about it more than if someone would talk to you about it super seriously, well that's the case with me anyway. She's not always making sketches about serious topics though, her skits are also sometimes just purely for fun. Plus she is also now an author of her very own book "How To Be A Bawse" which I have listened to numerous times because it is so informative and humourous at the same time. If you haven't listened to our read it, go do it ASAP!
Oprah Winfrey is my last, but sure, not the least woman on my list of influential women. This woman has worked her butt off to get exactly where she is and what I love about her is she never gets complacent. She is always striving to be better. When she started her talk show, she was probably one of the only people doing what she was doing. But then she noticed other people starting to nip at her heels so she decided to look at what she could do differently and she kept on switching up her game as well as adding more notches to her belt. So she has her own production company, is an author as well as an actress and former television host, just to name a few things this amazing woman does to keep on building her ever-growing empire. Like the last 2 women, she came from humble beginnings and was also abused but she didn't let that hold her down.
It just goes to show that their are 2 types of people in this world. Victims of circumstance and survivors of their past. Some people choose to let their past dictate their future, while others use both their current and past circumstances to fuel the fire in them for them to create greatness and empower others to do the same. Just imagine if a these fabulous women who have had been dealt tough cards in life had given up on their dreams. Who would we have to look up to? So just remember, when you are feeling down and like you want to give up on your dreams, don't! Because you just don't know whose life you may touch, if not save with your story.
So I was only going to write about 5 women that inspire me, but there were too many and there are still so many others. But I'd be here until International Women's Day next year if I was to talk about them all.
Thanks for reading. Please share who your favourite women are and why!