With Women’s Day on Thursday (9 August 2018), I got to thinking what would be my most favourite quote by a powerful courageous woman.
There are hundreds to choose from, but the one that resonates with me is Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement :
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
Eleanor Roosevelt was a very powerful woman in her later life. She was married to Franklin Roosevelt president of the United States, enjoyed immense wealth, was a successful diplomat and humanitarian. She travelled widely, received awards for her work and wrote a successful newspaper article for 6 days a week “My Day” for over 37 years.
How does a woman so successful, regarded as one of the world’s most widely admired and powerful woman at the time, understand what it’s like to feel worthless, inferior, abused, degraded, inadequate, and second-rate?
Eleanor Roosevelt was born into an extremely wealthy family belonging to the high society in New York. On her father’s side she was related to President Theodore Roosevelt and through her mother, she was related to tennis champions.
Her mother died when she was a mere 8 years old and just two years later her father died an alcoholic in a sanitarium. After the death of her parents, her grandmother cared for her.
When Eleanor’s mother, who was extremely beautiful, was alive, she felt ashamed of her daughter. She called her ‘Granny’ due to Eleanor’s plainness, old-fashioned ways and shyness.
In her new home, she felt insecure, starved of affection and viewed herself as ugly. No doubt those in her early life, including her own mother, made Eleanor feel this way. In her later writings, she described herself as “a solemn child without beauty. I seemed to like a little old woman entirely lacking in the spontaneous joy and mirth of youth”. Basically, she was made to feel like an ugly duckling.
Yet look what this great woman became. At the age of 14, she wrote: “no matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and loyalty are stamped upon her face, all will be attracted to her”.
I’m not an expert on Eleanor Roosevelt, but I imagine she learned her strengths, found her worth and remained true and loyal to herself. Instead of feeling inadequate among her wealthy and beautiful friends and family, she raised herself above them.
Out of all the photos of this great woman, I love this one the best. She looks so relaxed, happy and yes, comfortable with herself.
What’s your favourite quote? What woman inspires you to feel empowered?
I’d love to hear from you.