Women Who’ve Changed My Life

Three Women Who’ve Changed My Life

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

Three Women That Changed My Life

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

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

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.

Emily’s Books: Cupcakes and Cashmere and Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home (read my review on this book).

*  *  *  *  *

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 winThe best commenter will be eligible to win a gift card for one pair of glasses from Zenni (it’s up to $150 value!)!

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  • Michelle Delgado

    This is a great list of women.

  • Smile51

    Very insightful choices.

  • Thank you for sharing these inspiring women. I also love Sheryl. And really admired her recent commencement speech. I need to read her book as well. Love seeing other women supporting women! Great post, girl! XO

    Anna || A Lily Love Affair

  • Such a powerful post. Thanks for sharing.

  • I also love CC. Such beautiful posts and photographs and I love reading about the US through her posts!

    Katie xx ¦ La Coco Noire

  • Steph K

    This is such a great post! I love hearing who inspires you. I am a huge fan of Emily Shuman as well and loving her new line! I need to check out these other inspirational ladies. Thanks for sharing!

    xO – Steph

  • I love reading about the influential women in your life, such a great group of ladies!
    xo, Syd

  • My mom inspires me, she is always so optimistic.

  • This is such an inspirational post, so many different women inspire me. I’m planning on moving to America myself and I was wondering how exactly you went about making the move?


  • Julie (julimi)

    My mom inspires me with her hard work and constant words of encouragement.

    • Congratulations, Julie! You are the winner of Zenni Optical & Style Sprinter giveaway! I just emailed you regarding how you can receive your prize. Thank you so much for participating! Have a wonderful day and enjoy your chic pair of glasses by Zenni Optical!

  • Both my grandmother and mom are very inspiring – they’re so selfless and kind, such strong women!

  • Adaleta Avdic

    What a nice group of inspirational woman (inspirational in their own unique ways too!) I love the idea of this post. I’m a big fan of women finding inspiration with one another because we really do rule the world! 😉 xx adaatude.com

  • Aditi Oberoi Malhotra

    Very inspirational people! Great post!!

    Adi xx

  • What a great and inspirational post! Love it!
    XO Amanda | http://www.glitterandspice.com

  • This is such a great post! I love to hear how hard you worked at your English and your writing is awesome. All that hard work has paid off!! Well done. 🙂 I hope you have a great rest of your week.

    Elise Xx

  • Will Griesmer

    My wife inspires me.

  • Rachel Griesmer

    My Nana is an inspiration to me.

  • Trang Do

    Great inspirations! Thanks for sharing!
    Kisses and hugs from http://www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  • Kathryn Wesson

    Such great inspirations!

  • Elise

    Yes!!! So inspirational. Thank you for sharing!

  • I must read that book! I was told ALL the time as a child that I was bossy. I was blessed enough to have a mother who corrected “Bossy is just another word for leader, and I’d rather have a child who is a leader than a follower, because then she will not sway from her beliefs and follow others.” I think those words still ring in my head whenever someones says I am bossy or strong willed.

    • Your mom is such a smart woman and a great educator! I 100% agree that that’s the right way to address leadership skills in girls!!!

      Amanda, you are so lucky to have people like your mom surrounded you! My parents are great too, but since we lived in a different kind of society (which is still very strict and chauvinist) they expected from me to “behave like a lady.” Which means not being bossy… I turned out to be different kind of girl they expected me to be LOL super bossy!

  • jules mcnubbin

    my sister inspires me. she has survived breast and ovarian cancer, mental illness and an abusive marriage, and yet she is still there for me and her kids whenever we need her. she is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. my favorite pair of glasses is the Acetate Full-Rim Frame 488117 in purple

  • Aaron

    I am most inspired by my special friend Amanda – http://ampoesy.blogspot.com/ =)

  • Kimberly M.

    My mom inspires me. She is such a strong and compassionate woman. She is so selfless and giving to everyone. She has such a strong work ethic. She worked hard all her life and still is working hard at 81 years young. I love the glasses http://www.zennioptical.com/238625-plastic-full-rim-frame-with-spring-hinges.html

  • Laura Beverlin

    So inspirational! I’ve been a huge fan of CC for years now and always find her style and words so inspiring.


  • Natasha

    I am inspired by my mother who since retirement has gone on to pursue her passion for mind/body healing by teaching adaptive yoga to individuals with physical and neurological disabilities.

    I love these Zenni tortoise-shell glasses -http://www.zennioptical.com/womens-cat-eye-eyeglass-frames-7801125.html

  • Lessie S

    Me for me

  • I love Emily!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes