In celebration of INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY The Gloss team share some of the most INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN in their lives …
Few grown ups get the chance to really get to know their grandparents. I was lucky. My grandmother, Catherine Carmel Coffey, became my true friend. We would sit and talk for hours. I loved our stolen moments: leisurely visits, week-day lunches and staying over night. She inspired me to be truthful, see the beauty in nature and not talk too much! My grandmother was my muse; she was film-star beautiful, elegant, poised, had exceptional taste and, above all, loved me for who I am.
I’ve always been inspired by Sophia Loren; not only for her style and beauty but also for her wit and intelligence. As Italy’s most famous actress, and an Armani ambassador, she was the first artist to win an Oscar for a foreign language performance, taking the award for her performance as Cesira in Two Women. She has never let her sexpot persona get in the way of a funny quip. My favourite being, “everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”
Often finding herself in the headlines due to her activism rather than her acting these days, Emma Watson (pioneer for the HeforShe campaign which aims to end gender inequality) is one young woman who has been inspiring me as of late. I was always a feminist inside, whether consciously or not, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I learned to both vocalise and truly understand what it actually meant. If Emma Watson can act as a role model to help make younger girls and boys realise the realities of feminism from a young age then I think that’s a massive step that needs to be supported. The recent shaming of her for her supposedly “unfeminist” photoshoot with Vanity Fair is just one example of why feminism has not and will not be achieved until people stop feeling like they can control what women do or don’t do with their bodies. Emma Watson is strong enough to stand up for herself, her body, and her personal interests (as well as those of women worldwide) even in the face of the scathing media, and for me that makes for an extremely inspirational woman.
I’m also greatly inspired by two strong and passionate women in my family, my mother, Mary, who has also been an advocate of women’s rights from a young age, and my late grandmother, Madeleine who left us in November of last year. Always the first to help and support those in need, Granny was at the helm of the Yes Equality campaign in 2015, (even featured in national newspapers and in a video that went viral online!) regardless of her strong affinity to the Catholic church. She never saw a difference between one person and another, thinking of us all as equals. The world would be a much better place with more Granny Connollys in it!
The woman who has inspired me most was close to home. My godmother Tilly was a flamboyant London solicitor who found she had breast cancer aged 39. She battled to get second opinions, tried every different treatment she could find and kept working. She stayed relentlessly positive, booking holidays abroad far into the future. She never complained, inveigled friends to smuggle champagne bottles to cheer up her hospital bedside and celebrated life at every opportunity. I still associate the pop of a champagne cork with her. She lived alone but always faced her illness head-on with her chin up, bolstered by many friends. Tilly was determined, ambitious, glamorous, confident, wonderfully independent and successful, and the thrower of many outrageous parties – her joie de vivre would inspire anyone. She died in 2003 aged just 58.
My friend Sharon has been in my life for around 11 years making it better with her kind heart and dry sense of humour, which I love. Her emotional strength and sheer resilience through hard times (of which she has had her fair share) is truly inspiring to me. She lives life to the full and enjoys the little things without letting the bigger issues bring her down. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a woman like that?
So many to mention – the writer Nora Ephron and the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (I can’t wait to see the new film of her life, A Quiet Passion, starring Cynthia Nixon), however one woman eclipses them all and I try to remember her maxim: “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” One of many credited to Coco Chanel, I find her personal story inspiring – undaunted by humble beginnings, her sheer force of personality and vision has left a lasting legacy on how we dress and what we covet. From Breton tops to palazzo pants, LBDs and costume jewellery, camellias to espadrilles, I can’t think of another designer whose influence has been as universal. Who doesn’t want a 2.55 or spritz of Allure? As Coco said, “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future…”
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