This post is sponsored by Zenni Optical. All opinions expressed herein are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Zenni.
When people talk about powerful women who’ve influenced their lives, names like Beyonce Knowles and Anna Wintour come to mind. While I can’t deny the influence these girl bosses have on the industries they represent, my female models are anything but stereotypical subjects for college essays. Rather, they’re strong real-life women who influence the trajectory of decisions I make every day of my life. Today I collaborate with Zenni Optical to share with you stories of the top three girl bosses who’ve somewhat changed my life. It might sound a bit nerdy, but I was able to connect with the majority of them through… reading their books! Being a writer myself, I feel the strongest connection with people through written words, so I highly recommend not only learning these girls’ stories, but also finding and reading their books. I hope these inspiring ladies will have an influence on your life too!
ONE // Sheryl Sandberg
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a reputation for being bossy. I was too opinionated for a child, I could hear people lying from a mile away, and I couldn’t tolerate my parents’ approach to controlling and feeding me. Being a Russian child, “bossy” meant much more than just having some control issues. For an Eastern European girl, it sounded like a final judgment—no one will ever be able to handle me and I’ll never get married (it’s my parents’ ultimate fear! LOL).
As expected, my personality hasn’t changed for years. In fact, I’ve become even more opinionated ever since scoring my first paid writing gig at the age of 15. I decided to build my journalism career and continue sharing with people things that are important for me (yes, even these are only related to fashion and beauty). Needless to say, I felt even bossier when I was working to move in this direction and to the U.S., which sounded like complete nonsense to my conservatively raised parents and even some of my most progressive friends. I did feel that I owed it to myself though: how could I respect myself if I was too afraid to take control of my life simply because “it’s not what a woman does”?!
When I picked up Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead back in 2013, Sheryl Sandberg’s words were a major revelation for me. I loved the way she addressed how society conditioned women to “know their place in life” instead of living fearlessly and at their own discretion. I almost cried going though the years of research showing how girls are punished for demonstrating leadership potential. Yes, I definitely felt it—perhaps, even more strongly than my American peers, having grown up in Russia’s chauvinist society.
I really love the work Sheryl Sandberg is doing for all the women in the world. In fact, many other female leaders have been able to deliver their messages only because Sheryl created this new media trend of female empowerment (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but that’s exactly what happened!). Of course, women’s rights movement still have a long way to go in this country (I won’t even talk about the rest of the world—it still seems close to impossible), but girls like Sheryl Sandberg are heading in the right direction!
Sheryl’s book: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
TWO // Freelee The Banana Girl
The character of YouTube celebrity Freelee The Banana Girl is somewhat controversial, but she is one of the people who’ve opened my eyes to what’s happening in the food industry and inspired me to go vegan. The moment I found her channel, I binge-watched most of her recent videos and was amazed to learn how much information the meat and milk industry is hiding from us.
A few months into going 100% vegan, I feel my best ever! On my blog, I don’t often go into details about all the health issues I’ve been dealing with for years (this topic is too personal for me to share), all I can say is that I’ve never been as pain-free as I am now, eating vegan. In addition to the health benefits, I’ve also noticed some changes in my appearance, such as the elimination of any breakouts (remember how bad my skin was just a year ago?), an unexpected glow, and apparent weight loss. I have more energy, I feel more inspired to do stuff and work out, and I just generally feel like a better version of myself!
Some people say that Freelee and her boyfriend Durianrider are bullying online celebrities about their eating habits, but I personally don’t see anything wrong with this approach. Yes, sometimes hearing the truth hurts, but if everyone is just sweet and non-confrontational, how can we expect the world to change?
Freelee’s Book: Go Fruit Yourself.
THREE // Emily Schuman
I’ve been fascinated with the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog (“CC”) for many years now. When I came to the United States, I read it to improve my English. CC was also my secret weapon when it came to learning about the realities of living in the U.S., from holidays and traditions to understanding what some of the most important values for American women are.
There are a lot of other blogs about lifestyle, fashion, and beauty that I check on frequently, but somehow I’ve stuck with this particular one for many years now. Perhaps the reason CC is such a “sticky” blog is because Emily has a unique, very positive personality. She’s very creative and classy at the same time. She isn’t afraid to look a bit old school if it works for her mood and the situation. I think Emily and I have very similar taste and a similar sense of style, which makes her blog even more valuable for me.
After many years of doubting my English proficiency (supplemented by a number of writing-intensive classes and stacks of books), I finally decided to launch my own blog. I religiously read everything Emily ever said about having a blogging career, followed many of her blogging tips, and eventually turned my blog into a career. I’m very happy where I am now, but I have to admit that my path wouldn’t have been possible without all the inspiration and influence provided by CC and Emily’s work.
* * * * *
In this post, I didn’t want to share trivial references to my mom, a college professor, or a business mentor who affected my perspective on certain things. Instead, I picked a few women who have the power to not only influence me, but reach millions of other women too. While personal connections are indeed powerful, in my opinion, the only legitimate way to empower women in general is spreading the word to the masses.
I encourage you to spread the word about powerful women who’ve changed your life. Whether it’s your best friend or a celebrity you’ve been following for years, I’d love to hear, who they are and how they’ve influenced you as a person. What is a life lesson that you’ve learned from a strong female leader? Perhaps you have some tips for the Style Sprinter community on how to become a girl boss!
Please enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter widget below by answering a question “Who is the woman who inspires you?” Also, don’t forget to submit a link to a pair of glasses from Zenni Optical website that you’d love to win! The best commenter will be eligible to win a gift card for one pair of glasses from Zenni (it’s up to $150 value!)!