BY CONTRIBUTOR BRITTANY DEBEIKES
I was preparing to write another health and wellness article about the importance of paying attention to the quality of our water and food when my news radio announced that Margaret Thatcher had passed at the age of 87. She’s a woman known for her strength and her will power to unapologetically stand by her core philosophies about life and politics. I quickly decided that my focus this week would be on this strong woman of healthy character known as the “Iron Lady.”
I was born into a generation where there’s a higher percentage of females sitting in college classrooms than there are males. A generation where a woman has attempted to run for president and will most likely take that seat before I have grown children of my own. And a generation where, according to a 2006 Lifetime article, 85% of females will return to the workforce after having children.
This world is very different from the one Margaret was born into back in 1925. To put it in perspective, the United Kingdom did not even grant women the right to vote until 1928. I’m sure that Margaret’s mother might have been wary to whisper to her newborn baby girl that she could be the prime minister one day. By 1959, however, Margaret was a member of Parliament and in 1979 she became the first woman to take residency at 10 Downing Street as prime minister.
After learning the news of Margaret’s death, I commented to a colleague that now it’s relatively “normal” to see women in leadership roles. We didn’t think to question whether or not it was appropriate for Hillary Clinton to run for president or to question the level of respect that women like Condoleezza Rice deserve for holding prestigious positions of leadership and power. At the risk of sounding cliché, though, Margaret faced many glass ceilings during her career and she managed to punch a hole through them and move on up. She redefined “normal” with an unprecedented amount of determination.
The media has recently been kind to her reputation realizing that her health was declining. Not so long ago, Meryl Streep even paid homage to her and won an Oscar for her role in The Iron Lady. But Margaret was not always well-liked and often not well-respected during her time in power. Despite the critics, her signature personality trait was to stand strong and not express any doubt in her decisions. Margaret believed in the power of showing conviction and often spoke about the importance of living her life as a woman of action. “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman,” she once famously declared.
When I think about women’s health and wellness, I’m quick to turn to a lifestyle magazine or Pinterest for inspirational ideas. But the news of Margaret’s passing was a moving reminder that as I strive to be a woman of strength from the inside out as well as beautiful in both character and mind, I need to spend time learning more about the women of past generations. So, the next time you’re standing in the grocery line about to buy the latest magazine talking about “women’s issues,” I would encourage you to instead read up on the women who made choices in history that have reshaped the path we walk on today.
Image courtesy of Desmoinesregister.com
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