I am ridiculously shameless when it comes to my birthday. I think it’s because, until I was an adult, my birthdays were low-key affairs: school was out, I was typically in the countryside, most of my friends away on their own adventures. I am still making up for it by stretching the proceedings as long as I can. Last year, I hosted a potluck of just girls. It was so much fun I am repeating it this year, with a slightly different mix of women – July is still the time when many take time off. Very often, women I know, women I meet briefly and women who will never join my circle are a big source of inspiration, comfort and motivation. Here are some who came to mind just this week.
One. The name Simone Veil might not be very familiar to most Americans but she was a towering figure in France and the face of feminism in Europe. Impossible to sum her up in a few lines but Simone, a Holocaust survivor, went on to become a lawyer, a Health Minister who shepherded abortion law in France in 1974 and the first female President of the European Union (where she worked tirelessly for women’s rights). She is also one of the few politicians elected to the Academie Francaise and now that, at 89, she is dead, she will be laid to rest in the Pantheon.
Two. The junior Senator from California, Kamala Harris, arrived in Washington on the same day as Donald Trump and now she has become the (very telegenic) face of the opposition. A former prosecutor and California’s attorney general, she is smart, vocal, hard-working and doesn’t take any bullshit (watch her during the Senate hearings on Russia). She also has a potty mouth that makes her even more endearing to me. She is talked about for a possible candidacy to the Presidency. Still early days. For now, I am glad she has my back.
Three. Lucinda Chmabers might be an odd pick. The former fashion director for British Vogue, unceremoniously dumped by the new editor in chief, recently gave an interview, frankly speaking about the irrelevance of publications like Vogue, about the corporate pressure that influences features and the power of advertisers. She also let it drop that she hadn’t read Vogue in years, that is how boring it has become. Sounds like revenge? Absolutely. But it still takes guts to voice the truth (the original interview I am linking here has now been amended following threats of legal action on the part of Conde Nast).
Four. I cannot possibly speculate on the veracity of Kesha’s lawsuit against her former producer Dr. Luke, for physical and emotional abuse. So far, the courts haven’t been on her side. But she hasn’t backed off, despite her career suffering, as she was prevented from releasing new material until she was finally released from her contract with Dr. Luke. In the face of adversity and addiction, this girl has found a way to stand up for herself and dig herself out of a hole.
Five. My girlfriends. Sofagirl in particular. They listen to my bullshit, they call it out, they make me laugh, they pick me up and they never forget my birthday. I would be a vastly different person without you.