There are many things the world needs more of – love, peace, peanut butter Magnums, tights that actually stay up – but one thing we have no shortage of whatsoever is motivational quotes. They’re everywhere. On our walls, on our fridges, decorating our notebooks and cluttering up our Instagram feeds. They are the hot air that powers Pinterest like a jet engine.

But of course, they’re not always helpful. There are only so many times you can be told to ‘be a unicorn!’ before you want to smash your phone screen with your non-existent horn – and of all the genuinely cool and inspiring things Audrey Hepburn did in her time on earth, that quote about believing in pink ain’t one of them.

So as your antidote to all the whimsical sunsets, we’ve dug up 13 truly awesome quotes from some truly awesome women. Go kick some ass today – like yourself, not a unicorn.

(The hooves would just be impractical.)

“Courage is like — it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

Marie M. Daly, the first African-American woman to to earn a PhD in Chemistry

 

“However many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there.”

Nora Ephron, first lady of American screenwriting

 

“If I stop to kick every barking dog, I am not going to get where I’m going.”

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals at four different Olympic Games.

 

“We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f***ing feminist and wear a f***ing Peter Pan collar. So f***ing what?”

Zooey Deschanel, your fringe icon and all-round comedy babe

 

“Everyone’s got some greatness in them. You do. The girl over there does. That guy on the left has some. But in order to really mine it, you have to own it. You have to grab hold of it. You have to believe it.”

Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, from her book Year of Yes

 

“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

JK Rowling, everyone’s favourite dream auntie

 

“She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, Jazz Age legend, from her Collected Writings

 

“Be brave and fearless [enough] to know that even if you do make a wrong decision, you’re making it for a good reason.”

Adele. You know Adele.

 

“Because you don’t live near a bakery, doesn’t mean you have to go without cheesecake.”

Hedy Lamarr, 1940s movie star and inventor, who developed the radio wave system that led to the modern creation of wi-fi (thanks Hedy!)

 

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

Maya Angelou, author, poet and civil rights activist

 

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature.”

Margaret Atwood, the Booker Prize-winning novellist, on (you guessed it) selfies

 

“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

Malala Yousafzai, female education activist and the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner.

What better motivation could you have before double Geography?

Image: Getty

It’s a weird world for nerdy girls. In one way, it seems as though life has never been better. There are projects celebrating self declared nerds, like Amy Poehler’s Smart Girl ProgrammeKarlie Kloss has her own tech school where girls can learn to code, and academically, we’re excelling. Last year, in the US, a study found that more women were likely to have college degrees than men.

However, if you’re at school, whether you’re often at the top of the class or just feel passionately interested in a particular subject, there’s a chance that your nerdiness is not being supported. Have you ever wanted to ask a question or dig a little deeper, but worried about whether the other people in your class would think you were a bit, you know, keen? How many times have you known the answer, and felt nervous about putting your hand up? Do you ever wonder where all your nerdiness is getting you, and whether life might be easier if you kept your head down?

If you need inspiration and proof that one day, the geek will inherit the earth, you need to meet our Shero Anne Miller. Anne is one of few female ‘elves’ working on TV show QI, and at 29, one of the youngest. She started working on the show five years ago, and most impressively, she’s written the latest book of QI facts. If you’ve ever watched Stephen Fry on the show and been dazzled by his knowledge, it’s worth remembering that some of it comes from Anne.

She’s a big fan of the people on her team, but admits that the world of obscure facts and the world of television does get a bit male dominated. “To be honest, my lack of experience helped me a bit – when I first started trying to work in TV, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. If I’d known more people in the industry and had them tell me about how hard it can be, it might have put me off!”

The newest series of QI has finally put a fabulously nerdy woman front and centre – Sandi Toksvig, we love you and we often wish that you were our surrogate auntie – so I talked to Anne about how to celebrate the nerdiness in your nature, and use it to pursue your dreams.

Firstly, how did you get your amazing job?

“After uni, I got onto a talent scheme in Edinburgh called The Network which led to a longer six month programme. I met amazing people and learned loads about TV in a short space of time, and as a result of that, I got a short contract job as a researcher on a different programme. When that ended, one of my mentors was able to put me in touch with people at QI, and I spent a day in the studio learning about how it was put together. I stayed in touch with the people I met, and impulsively sent them an unusual fact I found – ‘A vulture can safely swallow enough botulinum toxin to kill 300,000 guinea pigs.’ They loved it and asked me to send any more I found, so I used to email a few facts a week, which helped me to keep building the relationship with them.”

What’s your typical day in the office like?

“It’s research heavy, so we all sit with unusual books and bits of text and search out interesting facts to include on the show.

Often, we’re working with a particular theme – each series corresponds to a letter, and then the theme will begin with that letter so I know if I’m looking for facts about something specific. But sometimes random things will pop up – I’ll come across something weird about onions and file it away for when we get to O! As well as the main show, we have the podcast, No Such Thing As A Fish, the radio show The Museum Of Curiosity and a new TV show, No Such Thing As The News. And I just wrote the book, so it’s quite busy!”

Is this what you always wanted to do?

“Actually I wanted to be a neurosurgeon! I even changed my Highers [Scottish exams, like GCSEs] because I realised I hadn’t picked enough science to get into medical school. My parents helped me to persuade the school to do it, they were really supportive of me. I think I was lucky, and my family and school was quite unusual. I loved learning, I was good at it and I was surrounded by people who made me feel as though there was nothing I couldn’t do.”

Why did you change your mind?

“I still think that being a doctor is the very best thing you can do, but if I’m honest I wasn’t totally committed to it. I’d started to get curious about other things. I did politics at A level and I loved it, and that’s what I studied at university, and I think that if you’re going to be a doctor you need to be completely committed.”

Were you ever bullied for being clever or nerdy?

“I was really lucky, it didn’t really come up. I think I had one fight with one girl who deliberately tried to trip me in the corridor. My parents talked to the school and I really just wanted to leave it, so I tried smiling at her before she could say anything nasty, and she was nice to me for a whole day. What’s weird is that I thought she was singling me out, and years later I’ve discovered that she was horrible to everyone I knew! To be honest, it helped that I went to school in St Andrews, which is fairly remote. There just wasn’t the time or space for people to be that mean, if you really wanted to go out of your way to bully someone outside school you’d have to get on a bus and they only came once a day! When I was at school Facebook, Instagram and Twitter didn’t exist, and I think that made a huge difference. It would be much harder now.”

Were you popular?

“I had my own crew of creative people. We didn’t like the popular girls, and they didn’t like us, which was fine. There was no real rivalry, we just ignored each other. I remember thinking that I was really glad that I wasn’t popular because they all wore the same clothes and had the same haircut, and it looked like it was loads of effort. I didn’t want a side fringe!”

What would you tell your 13 year old self?

“‘Try everything’. I love my job, but I wouldn’t have found it if I wasn’t curious, and confident enough in my intelligence to keep giving different things a go. When you see a careers advisor or go to a careers fair, you don’t see the breadth of different inspiring jobs you can do, you only meet the people who work for companies who have paid for a stand! Sometimes the path isn’t obvious, and you have to make a way for yourself – if you want a job and it seems like the door is shut, try getting in through the window.”

Anne’s book, 1342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted, is out on 3 November. QI, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, is shown at 10PM on Fridays on BBC2.

@NotRollergirl

When Michaela DePrince’s mum got an email from Beyoncé, she forwarded it on to her daughter, but Michaela assumed it was a joke. After all, how many 21-year-olds are getting personal emails from Queen Bey herself?

Well, Michaela DePrince isn’t most 21-year-olds.

On top of starring in ‘Lemonade’, Michaela also appeared in the  2011 ballet documentary ‘First Position.‘ Oh, and now? Well, she’s just released her own memoir, ‘Taking Flight.’

Any way you look at it, Michaela DePrince is kicking some serious ass right now.

beyoncemichalea

But her success hasn’t come easy.

Michaela was born in Sierra Leone in 1995 during the brutal civil war. When she was three, both of her parents passed away, so she spent a year living in an orphanage before she was adopted by an American couple, where she became part of an enormous and encouraging family (she has ten siblings, eight of whom are also adopted. Michaela’s parents make the Jolie-Pitts look like a small family).

When she was in the orphanage, she remembers finding a magazine with a picture of a ballerina on the front. She didn’t yet know what a ballerina was, but he tucked the page under her shirt as something to cling onto; maybe one day she could be as happy as the woman in the magazine.

This image inspired her to take up dance, which led her to the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and then on to the Dutch National Ballet, where she is the only ballerina of African descent.

In a video she starred in for The Avant/Garde Diaries, Michaela explains:

When I was young, it was hard for me to express myself with language, so I expressed myself with dancing…dancing is what really helped me overcome the nightmares of the past.

Michaela has experienced racial discrimination throughout her career, from teachers telling her they don’t invest time in black dancers because of their body shapes (WHAT?!) to being told, when she was eight, she couldn’t play Marie in the Nutcracker, because “people weren’t ready for a black Marie.” Even the traditional pink and white tutu that is designed to blend into pale skin is a sticking point for Michaela, who has to dye her point shoes so they actually match her skin tone.

This would have been enough to put most people off dancing altogether, but DePrince isn’t the type of person to turn her back on her dreams.

Talking to Teen Vogue she said:

My life is proof that no matter what situation you’re in, as long as you have a supportive family, you can achieve anything.

And she’s right. Michaela is living proof that if you want it bad enough and work hard enough, anyone can dance with Beyoncé.

Michaela DePrince, you’re our Shero.

Image: Getty

Sheroes come in all shapes and sizes, it just turns out this one is an 11-year-old girl from New Jersey: Marley Dias.

Marley came home from school one day and complained to her mum that the only books she got to read at school were about white boys and their dogs.

Instead of consoling her, or telling not to worry about it, her mum asked her:

So, what are you going to do about it?

And so the #1000blackgirlbooks project was launched. With her mum’s help, Marley started a book drive to find 1000 books where the main character is a black girl.

She took to social media with the hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks, where it took off like a literary Apollo 11. (She’s catalogued all the books here, take a look).

When she had collected about 700 books, some big names started to take notice. She was invited to appear on the Ellen show, where she was given a laptop for her writing and a $10,000 cheque to buy some more books. Totally NBD.


In the interview with Ellen, Marley spoke about how she’d like to be a magazine editor one day – because, as she says, “I love to be the boss.” And taking her at her word, Elle US made her an editor-in-residence with her very own ‘zine, ‘Marley Magazine.’ Literally #likeaboss.

Oh, and in addition to being an avid reader, a kick-arse writer, a successful campaigner and a natural on camera, Marley is also a philanthropist – that’s right, she also gives her time and books to charity. She’s organised another book festival and is donating all the books to the parish in Jamaica that her mum is from.

Inspiring much? We can’t wait to see what she’ll do with her next 11 years. And next time something’s bugging us, let’s all channel Marley’s mum and ask ourselves:

So, what are you going to do about it?

The Olympics has left a five-ringed void in everyone’s hearts and TV schedules. There are no more medal tallies to discuss or heptathlons to obsess over. No more gymnastic routines to attempt to copy in our bedrooms. No more humble speeches to weep at or national anthems to sing. Or at least, not until the Paralympics start next month and all the cheering begins again.

But hey, we have the legacy! And while we will probably never again see Usain Bolt or Jess Ennis-Hill compete for Olympic gold again, there are some new Olympians that wormed their way into our hearts in Rio. Presenting: our Olympic Sheroes.

Britain's Amy Tinkler celebrates after the women's floor event final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 16, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

 Amy Tinkler

Amy is the ultimate overachiever. As well as being team GB’s youngest athlete (she’s 16), taking her GCSEs and spending 30 hours a week training, she went ahead and brought home a bronze medal in gymnastics for her floor routine #likeaboss. Now, she’s back from the Olympics and waiting to hear how she did in her exams. Amy, as far as we’re concerned, you’ve scored straight A*s.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Abbey D'Agostino of the United States (R) hugs Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand after the Women's 5000m Round 1 - Heat 2 on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin

She didn’t take home a gold. Or a silver. Or a bronze. But she most definitely takes home the Miss Congeniality award. Halfway through the 5,000 metres, Abbey clipped fellow runner Nikki Hamblin and both girls tripped and fell. Abbey quickly recovered, and jumped back up, but instead of running off to try and make up for those lost few seconds, she noticed Nikki was lying on the floor in the fetal position, crying. Nikki remembers feeling a hand on her shoulder, helping her up and Abbey’s voice in her ear: “Get up. We have to finish this.”

And so, despite their injuries, they did. *Sob*

Fu
Image: Getty

Fu Yuanhui

If you can watch this video of Fu and not want to hug her senseless, we can only assume you’re playing Pokemon Go at the same time and not giving it your full attention.

In addition to being adorable and winning the bronze medal for the 100m backstroke final, Fu also got real about her uterus. After competing in the final of the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay, in which her team came fourth, she sat down and clutched her tummy. When a reported came over to ask her about the race, Fu responded, “I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down. Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.” Round of applause for Fu for letting the world know that even kickass sportswomen have to deal with periods too.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Laura Trott of Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony after the women's Omnium Points race on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Velodrome on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Laura Trott

Laura Trott is the most successful female British athlete in history. In history. Can you imagine? She has won seven World Championships. Ten European Championships. Two Commonwealth Games titles. She is un-freaking-defeated in the Olympics. As a side note, she’s engaged to fellow Olympian Jason Kenny. The pair took home five gold medals between them, meaning if their home in Cheshire was a country, it would have finished 19th on the table – above Canada and New Zealand. Couple goals: redefined.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Simone Biles of the United States performs on the beam during the Gymnastics Rio Gala on Day 12 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Simone Biles

You know it, we know it, the whole internet knows it – Simone Biles is bae.

But while she might look like the most together teenager in the world, her life wasn’t always paved with gold medals. When Simone was three, her mother became unable to care for her and her three other siblings. Simone went to live with the grandparents on the other side of the country, who formally adopted her and her younger sister a few years later. She has won five medals in Rio, four of which were gold, and they’ll look damned good hanging next to the 14 World Championship medals she already has.

To think, some people collect Beanie Babies.

(Right now, there is no one else in the world that can perform this manoeuvre. They call it The Biles, obvs.)

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds