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?
posted February 27, 2017 by Emily Vincent
Girli, the teenage punk rapper-slash-pop star who is being tipped as one of 2017’s most intriguing musical talents, may be jetting off to Los Angeles hours after I call her up, but she’s still paranoid about losing her passport. The 19-year-old, who is known to her parents as Millie Toomey, has spent the past year in a whirlwind, blending turning 18 and A Levels with becoming the new Lily Allen, while spending the summer living in a flat by herself.
It’s the kind of life many teenage girls dream of. But it’s one that’s even more remarkable considering that Millie spent her first years of secondary school dealing with bullies and waiting for her period to turn up, venting her anger by organising awareness against sexual harassment and, at 13, speaking in the Houses of Parliament – “wearing an untucked shirt thinking I was the coolest person ever”.
Both of Toomey’s parents were actors, so performing was always on the cards. But she only turned to music at 15 after becoming fed up of “never actually changing anything” as an elected member of Youth Parliament for Camden, north London, where she grew up. “I thought, that’s not the best way to change things. I remember going to school and everyone was like, ‘There’s that goodie-two-shoes who’s always telling everyone what to do. I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to prove you all wrong.’” So she formed a girl band.
When her bandmates decided to concentrate on going to university, Millie, then 16, decided to keep making music by herself. Her first effort? “A song made by sampling the sound of Japanese girls shouting at someone.” From here came Girli: the hyper-pink, provocative, unashamedly bolshy and completely, fiercely feminist alter-ego, which won her a record deal within a matter of months.
I spoke to Girli about about school, periods and becoming a pop star.
Going from a youth politician to a pop star sounds like something out of a teen movie we’d want to see. How did that happen?
“I realised that it wasn’t the best way to change things. I was 15 and I’d been doing politics for ages and I had a teen realisation where I was like, actually, “Everyone’s against me”. I always felt like I was on the side of teachers and politicians, because I thought they were there for me. But they weren’t there for me, they’re there for themselves, and it got me really angry. I started hating politicians and everything they stood for.
I started really hating school at that point because I felt like there were a lot of people who didn’t get what I was about and a lot of things were changing and I thought, no. I wanted to be able to go somewhere after school and just rock out. I started making music with my band and I cut all my hair off as a rebellion. It was an outlet.”
How did you form a band?
“I got together a band from joinmyband.com, the dodgiest thing ever. Luckily I didn’t get any dodgy ones, but found these three girls and we played indie rock punk. It was really rubbish but it was fun. The girls left me to go to uni, they didn’t think the band was going to go anywhere. I still maintain that we could have headlined the O2 one day, but whatever.
Then I started making songs on my computer and messing around on my own and Girli was born. I think it must have been two years ago now. A few months later I got label interest. I was playing loads of gigs and I was going to loads of networking events and stuff, desperately trying to get a manager. And I met this guy who had been a rapper, he was a rookie manager and he started managing me, which was a bit of a disaster really, because he was super young as well and it was kind of messing around. Then I got a new manager who knew what he was doing a little more and started putting out more music on my own and the label got involved.”
I had a lot of fun at your Camden show – whose idea was it to string tampons from the ceiling?
“That was such a fun gig, everyone was so up for everything. I threw a Donald Trump pinata at them and they were so up for it! I always like to involve sanitary products in my shows. I used to chuck them out at the crowd. I think people think I do it to shock, and really I just do it because I don’t think that tampons or periods should be something that’s taboo. It’s just something that comes with being a woman. I feel like if I string tampons up at my show it’ll help people be like, “oh, tampons – whatever.””
So, tell us about your first period…
“I remember being really upset because I was really late in having my period. Obviously now I’m like, “huh! Upset! Could have gone a few more years without bothering with it!” But I remember all of my friends and all of the girls in my class were like, “oh my god, period talk”, and I had to be like, “yeah, totally, LOL”, when I had no idea what was going on. I felt like such a baby.
I had just turned 15 and I got my period at home. It wasn’t a messy story: I went to the loo and was like, “oh, blood!” And I remember walking out and my dad was standing outside and the first thing I said to him was, “Dad, I’m a woman now”. And he just looked at me and said, “no, you’re not.”
My mum was a legend, she was prepared. She was like, “Here are some I had earlier,” and revealed a whole cupboard of sanitary products.”
Do you have a period craving?
“To be honest, it’s just a craving for everything. I just eat like a horse when I’m on my period. But in general, chocolate is always the go-to. Chocolate all day, every day.”
Can you tell when it’s coming?
“I just start to feel a bit heavy and sluggish and I sync with all of my female friends. Whenever it’s coming, we’ll text and say, “I feel like my period’s coming along”, and as soon as someone says that we’ll jinx it and we all just get out periods like 10 minutes later.”
What about period pains?
“I don’t get terrible pains but I do get bad mood swings. I got my period on my birthday, which was like, two days ago, and I was like, “are you f***ing kidding me?” Because obviously it’s your birthday and you’re meant to be in a good mood, and I was just being really pissy to my mum.”
One of your best new songs is dedicated to your sister, and has loads of lovely advice in it. Would you give yourself the same tips if you could?
“If I could look back, I’d just say to chill out. Because I worried way too much, I still do. But I think that’s the thing that gets most teenagers, you just worry so much about the future, like, “do I have to decide who I want to be now?” or “should I feel a certain way?” and being 13-15 is sometimes really rubbish and that’s just a normal natural growing up and getting used to your own skin and finding your people. It’s so normal.”
“My sister is having a tough time at school, and so did I – I got bullied at school and hated school a lot of the time – and that’s why I did well at exams, because I just decided to study and get away from it all. Then I started the band. Just pushing through and remembering that on the other side you’re going to have a great life. That’s the most important thing.”
Bullying sucks big time. What was your experience of it like?
“The move from primary to secondary really stressed me out. I was so anxious. I had to go to therapy and I really wasn’t a very happy kid, and there was a group of girls who just preyed on me like demons. I would come to school and everything I did or say they would comment, they’d try to trip me up and it was constant, there was no escape. Now, I look back and I think, I’m actually doing stuff with my life and I have really good people around me and I have no idea where they are. I think being tormented like that, it made me want to weird people out even more!”
What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you at school?
“I was about 12 and this boy asked me to go to the Year 6 prom. And I’d literally never been asked by a boy to go to anything, and I was like, “Yeah, sick!” Then this other boy, who I’d had a crush on for ages, like years, asked me as well. And being 12-year-old, savage me, I was like, “well yeah, this is a better offer”. So I went back to the first guy and was like, sorry mate. Then he was like, “you bitch!”. The guy who I’d fancied for ages found out and came up to me and said, “Oh, you’re a dick” and took away his offer.
And I ended up going on my own. Which was actually great.”
Girli’s new single, Girl I Met on the Internet, is out now.
posted January 6, 2017 by Amy @ betty
betty caught up with DCI Shabnam Chaudhri to talk about what life is like as a DCI, her experience of being caught between her cultural expectations and her desire to join the police, and why Superman is her ultimate hero.
posted December 28, 2016 by Amy @ betty
There are some brilliant women out there. Women who are breaking the mould, going out into the world and living their very best lives. These women are betty’s Sheroes, and the first is Florence Adepoju.
Florence Adepoju always loved science, and when she started working on a cosmetics counter she realised she loved beauty, too. So she put her scientific brain to work, creating her own line of make-up.
At 22 she founded her own company, MDMflow, making a bold, vibrant beauty range that was inspired by her love of hip-hop. In this video she talks about her inspirations, her style, and how sometimes even the most successful people just need a really good cry.
posted October 26, 2016 by Lily @ betty
This week, as the French government is closing down the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp in Calais, refugees are in the headlines again. And while nobody should need a reminder that refugees have just as much potential and deserve just as many opportunities as the rest of us… the amazing story of Fadumo Dayib is really driving the point home.
Dayib and her family fled Somalia in the 1980s, during the Civil War. Despite still being considered one of the five most dangerous countries in the world for women, Dayib has returned to her homeland in a bid to be the first female President of Somalia.
At the moment, another woman is busy dominating headlines in her run for President (#imwithher) but that doesn’t make Dayib’s run any less important.
Aged 14, Dayib and her family fled to Finland, the home of fjords and raw fish and totally kick ass girls. It was here that she finally learnt to read and write and develop a passion for education. She went on to complete to Masters – one was on a scholarship to Harvard (casual). Dayib then spent a few years working with the United Nations, launching public health initiatives in developing countries around the world, and completing a PhD.
It was was her PhD study that inspired Dayib to go back to Somalia and be the first female candidate ever to run for President. Just like that.
Dayib told Mic, “…even though home is not a welcoming place, is not a peaceful place, we should do everything possible to make it so.”
Somalia has been gripped by numerous challenges over Fadumo’s lifetime; from vicious warlords to natural disasters.
Dayib is realisticabout her odds of winning, she knows her campaign is a long shot. After all, she is the only woman and the only refugee running, and despite the country being pretty much run by gangs, she isn’t about to give in to corruption.
Whatever the outcome of the election, Fadumo Dayib is making history and standing up for what she believes in.
And for that, Fadumo, you’re our Shero.
posted October 3, 2016 by Lily @ betty
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?
posted September 19, 2016 by Lily @ betty
Rio, you weren’t without you controversies, but what great love story ever is? It was a summer filled with highs and lows, with nail biting sprints and devastating losses. But it’s all over now, the Paralympians are packing their bags and heading home.
It was only meant to be a summer fling, but there are many awesome athletes that have stolen our hearts forever. Here are our new Paralympic sheroes.
Libby Clegg and Chris Clarke
Libby has Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a deteriorating eye condition which has left her with only slight peripheral vision in her left eye. Her eyesight deteriorated further this year, but she didn’t let that stop her, now she is required to wear a blindfold while racing and has a guide runner, Chris Clarke. The pair have only been running together for a year, but they won gold in the T11 100m and 200m sprints at Rio this year.
As the only woman in Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad, 21-year-old Coral Batey is badass. Rio was her first Paralympics, but she’s been representing GB in various competitions for the past two years. Unfortunately, Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad were knocked out in the first round, but Batey’s presence on the team has been inspiring all the same.
Having installed a big screen in her old high school so that students could watch her compete, Coral’s former PE teacher commented, “It is very much a male dominated sport but she comes out and gives it just as good as the men. We’re all very proud of her.”
Kadeen first got involved in para-athletics in 2015, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She won gold at the T37 100m World Championships before switching to cycling and winning the 500m time trial in the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, making her a world champion in two different sports. Oh wait, and in the Rio Olympics, she casually won a bronze for sprinting and a gold for cycling. As you do.
The two Ellies
Ellie Robinson is following in the footsteps of legendary teammate, Ellie Simmonds. Simmonds is only 21, but this is her third Olympics, and acts as something of a mentor to Robinson who is 15 and just beginning her Olympic career. Both Ellies have achondroplasia, which is a common form of dwarfism – and both are paralympic swimming world record holders, which is less common.
Ellie Robinson currently holds the British record in the S6 50m butterfly and the world record in the 100m, both set when she was 13. Because, you know, why not? Robinson won gold at the Rio Paralympics in the S6 50m butterfly, while Simmonds won her fifth gold medal and set the world record for the 200m medley. Best PR for the name ‘Ellie’ ever.
Abby Kane started swimming when she was seven years old. Her family had gone on a holiday to Australia and Abby was frustrated when she couldn’t participate, so inspired by her brother, Fraser, she took up swimming. Like Libby Clegg, Abby has Stargardt’s, a deteriorating eye condition. At the 2016 British Para-Swimming International Meet, she lowered the British record in the 100m backstroke S13. Twice. Oh, and she was 12 at the time. Now, aged 13, she came 6th in the 400m freestyle. No big deal.
Oh wait – HUGE DEAL. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Paralympic Sheroes! We’re counting down the days until we see you in 2020.
posted August 25, 2016 by Lily @ betty
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.
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.
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*
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.
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.
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
Sign up and get the latest updates
Get updates on all the latest gossip and advice. Just give us your email address and we’ll do the rest.