Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less. ~ Myra Pollack Sadker
March is National Women’s History month, a time when we celebrate women who have accomplished great things for the world and for humanity. It’s important to know our history – both the famous men we learn about in school, AND also the women who inspire us to do more and be more.
History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished. ~National Women’s History Project
Learning about history – all of history, not just one side – is important to the growth of our nation and our growth as humans. These women are intricately entwined in our progress as a country and as better human beings – from scientists and astronauts to authors and dancers, our past is rich with women who strove to be the very best they could be, despite the restrictions and opposition to leadership roles that they faced. Learning and growing up with these role models can build in us the reality that, yes, we really can be what we dream to be – she did it, so can I! Dr. Bailey grew up reading and hearing about such stories. As a woman entrepreneur and a self-proclaimed science geek, the women of history who inspired Dr. Bailey certainly reflect her dedication today and shaped her from early in her childhood.
Dr. Bailey recently spoke with me explaining why the following 3 famous women shaped both her career and personal life.
Born in 1904 in Indiana, Adelle Davis learned to cook before she learned to read. Earning a bachelor’s in household science and a masters in biochemistry, she worked closely with doctors and physicians to help people gain better health through nutrition. Davis wrote 4 books on nutrition, inspiring Time magazine to dub her “the high priestess of a new nutrition religion.” According to adelledavis.org,
“Adelle lived and wrote in the post-World War II era, which was enthralled with freedom of choice. The motto of the Health Food Movement, if indeed one of the many could be chosen, was ‘Freedom of Choice in Nutrition.’ Blind freedom is ‘not freedom, but license’, and Adelle was determined that her clients and readers would not be in the dark about the scientific basis of nutritional education.”
Dr. Bailey read her book Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit as a teen. Interestingly, Davis invented the granola we know today, which is what Dr. Bailey still makes and eats for breakfast every day (for a recipe, visit here).
“She connected diet and lifestyle to health for me through her books,” said Dr. Bailey, “and I went into science because of her. My first ambition was to get a PhD in biochemistry and forge a career studying the health ramifications by processed foods and environmental chemicals.”
Dr. Bailey still eats only whole foods, grows her own vegetables and shuns processed foods and food chemicals, thanks in large part to the foundation of information laid for her by Davis.
“Since being a teen, I believe it’s important to connect the dots between what we eat and how our bodies fare in life – I’ve lived by the ‘we are what we eat’ concept and my blog and the medical advice I give my patients reflects that.”
For more on Adelle Davis, you can read her story here.
Isadora Duncan was born in the latter part of the 1800s in San Francisco to a mother with great appreciation of the arts. Teaching dance classes, then touring with a style that eschewed the popular ballerina dances, Duncan is often called the mother of modern dance.
Eccentric to her core, Duncan nevertheless had a great following in the European countries, with a special affinity for Russia.
“Even though she was eccentric, she held her own against social pressures because it was important to her to fully express her creative art in her own way. Her art was dance, and it gave her joy. She did not bend or change what she did because of social pressures or criticism,” Dr. Bailey said, explaining what drew her to Isadora Duncan. “I danced from the age of 5 until back surgery in my 40s. Dance gave me joy, so I understood that. I also understood when I was young that I was different than most of my classmates because I was pretty serious and focused.”
For more on Isadora Duncan, you can read her biography here.
Arguably one of the best known women of science, Marie Curie is the only person to receive two Nobel prizes. She also coined the phrase “radioactivity,” after discovering the properties of uranium. She and her husband discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. And if that weren’t enough, she championed the cause of the portable x-ray machine during World War I, which earned the name “Little Curies.” Her remains are interred in the Pantheon, the first and only woman laid to rest there.
“She was an extraordinary pioneer woman of science, dedicated entirely to it,” explained Dr. Bailey. “In college, I was a complete science nerd. I loved and lived for science classes and couldn’t get enough fast enough. It was so exciting to learn how the physical and living world worked; it was like reading a mystery novel, building on the clues and wanting to get the answers at the end. If Madam Curie could do it, I could, too.”
For more on Madame Curie, you can read her biography here.
What women have inspired you? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below about the powerful women of influence that have made you into the individuals you are today.