Are you tired of your daughter having exclusively gorgeous role models? Afraid of giving in to “princess” or “pageant” culture? Making those tough parenting decisions can be hard when the sassy heroines your daughter loves are all gorgeous. How can your little girl obsess for the right reasons? Here’s a roundup of incredible women that your daughter will long to be like, but never look like:
1. Betty Friedan (born Bettye Naomi Goldstein)
Whoever said that unattractive people have better personalities out of necessity never met feminist Betty Friedan. Her own husband called her a “driven, super aggressive, egocentric, almost lunatic dynamo.” If Betty hadn’t called herself a “bad-tempered bitch” we might be a little suspicious of Mr. Friedan. Teach your daughter that she doesn’t have to be beautiful to put men in their place.[/listicle_item]
2. Calamity Jane (born Martha Jane Cannary)
As a frontier scout and companion of Wild Bill Hickok, this scrappy tomboy captured the imaginations of a nation, becoming a folk hero of the American West and inspiring generations of girls to defy convention. Show your daughter her real portrait rather than Hollywood’s Doris Day version and she’ll learn that guns are more than just sexually empowering.
3. George Eliot (born Mary Ann Evans)
Eliot’s father was so convinced that his daughter’s unfortunate looks would prevent her from marrying that he did the unspeakable; he invested in giving her a classical education. But this young girl with a nose as long as Middlemarch would have the last laugh: not only did she write one of the most important novels in the English language, but, at age 61, she got hitched to a man twenty years her junior, making her the perfect role model for your bookish daughter.
4. Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree)
“If women want any more rights than they’s got, why don’t they take them, and not be talking about it.” These are the words of emancipated slave, abolitionist, and mother of 13, Sojourner Truth. At nearly six feet tall with a frame made muscular by decades of physical labor, Truth famously bared her arm in an iconic gesture during an early speech, claiming, “Ain’t I a woman?” Replace all your daughter’s Beyoncé albums with the more empowering speeches of the average-looking Sojourner Truth.
5. Florence Nightingale
The founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was one smart cookie, choosing to make her rounds to ailing soldiers’ sick beds during the night with only a dim lamp to illuminate her face. She was forever etched into men’s memories as an angelic figure, the “Lady with the Lamp” or, perhaps more aptly, the “Lady Who Knows How to Take Full Advantage of Universally Flattering Candle Light.” For nursing inspiration, remove the accessories from your daughter’s dolls and turn them into anatomical models.