I saw the movie Coco Before Chanel last weekend and am thrilled to add Coco Chanel to my list of extraordinary women who never got married. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of married women -- my mother especially -- and I'm not opposed to being one someday. However, I've decided it's best not to count on, and I won't force it to happen just for the sake of making my aforementioned mother happy. In the event that it doesn't happen for me, the following women serve as a sweet reminder that you don't need anyone but yourself to live an incredible life and have people remember you long after you're gone. (Listed Chronologically):
1. Joan of Arc - The original tomboy. Born a peasant in eastern France, Joan dressed as a solider and led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War.
2. Queen Elizabeth the First - Life was off to a rough start for Princess Elizabeth when her father (Henry VIII) had her mother (Anne Boleyn) beheaded. For years, there was much dispute over who Henry's rightful heir was. When Elizabeth was finally crowned queen at the age of twenty-five she went on to reign for forty-four years--an impressive tenure for any monarch.
3. Jane Austen - That's right, the original chick-lit author never got married. She received one proposal when she was twenty-seven. She accepted it at first then rejected it within twenty-four hours. She then wrote a letter to her niece saying, "Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection." Austen's beloved novels are: Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion.
4. Louisa May Alcott - Author best known for her book Little Women. She once explained her spinsterhood in an interview, "... because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man."
5. Susan B. Anthony - Next time you find yourself in the voting booth, ladies, take a moment of silence for Miss Susan. She spearheaded the suffrage movement. If not for this tenacious woman we would not be able to do the following: vote, wear pants, receive a higher education, and stay single if we so choose. The 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote) is also called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
6. Florence Nightingale - Although best known as a nurse, Florence was also a writer and statistician. She never married, but this was not from lack of opportunity. She believed, however, that God had decided she was one whom he: "... had clearly marked out ... to be a single woman."
7. Clara Barton - Another notable nurse as well as a teacher and humanitarian. Clara founded the Red Cross. Need I say more?
8. Mary Cassatt - One of the few female Impressionist painters. Mary was born in Pittsburgh and spent much of her adult life in France. She decided early in life that marriage would not be compatible with her career. Her posthumous paintings have sold for as much as $2.9 million.
9. Coco Chanel - A legendary clothing designer who changed the face of fashion forever and who's empire still bears her name. Lady Chanel was the only fashion designer to appear on Time Magazine's "Most Influential People of the 20th Century."
10. Oprah Winfrey - Hello!
Honorable Mention: Gloria Steinem - Gloria spent her younger years at the helm of the second-wave feminist movement saying things like, "The surest way to be alone is to get married." Then, after she had done everything one could hope to do in a lifetime, she fell in love. She got married at the age of sixty-six and made no apologies. She married David Bale -- actor Christian Bale's father. Tragically their marriage only lasted three years as David died of brain lymphoma. Although devastated I'm sure, Gloria continued on her way doing the work she loves. Her place in history had been established long before she met and married Mr. Bale.