7 Badass Portraits of Women Who Shaped Our History
Over the course of history, there have been countless revolutionary women who rose above oppression to make the impossible possible. It is they who set the bar for us by transcending the confines of gender roles in society, more often than not during the most trying of times. Sure, the battle for equality is still as necessary as ever today (sigh) but we’ve made leaps and bounds thanks to the ladies who came before us. Here are just a few of the iconic faces of our norm-defying foremothers—here’s to the barriers they broke and the paths they forged beyond them.
Elsa Andersson was Sweden’s first female aviator in 1920. If that’s not enough, after the adrenaline junkie received her pilot’s diploma at the ripe age of 21, she quickly moved on to learn stunt parachuting. Most unfortunately, she was killed on her third jump when her parachute did not expel properly. May her portrait (and her legacy) live on.
Winnie the Welder
Florence DiTullio, also known as “Winnie the Welder,” was the first woman to work in the Fore River Shipyard in Massachusetts during World War II when men vacated their positions to fight overseas. Apparently, the men in the shipyard would holler at her so often that she acquired the nickname “Woo Woo.” We aspire to be more like Winnie, who ignored the bullshit and got the job done.
Gertrude Ederle, deemed the “Queen of Waves,” was the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926 at the age of twenty. This portrait came about upon her completion of the treacherous 21-mile swim, after which she sported a dope silk two-piece and homemade leather goggles, obviously. She was covered in oil, which she used in order to retain body heat. Noted.
Tennis wizard and professional golfer Althea Gibson has been dubbed one of the greatest tennis players who ever lived—and rightfully so. She was the first African American to win a Grand Slam title in 1956, and then went on to win a total of 11 Grand Slam titles as well as Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals.
Architect and motorcycle maven Elspeth Beard was the first woman to circumnavigate the world on a motorcycle—a BMW R60/6, to be exact. She completed the grueling 48,000-mile ride in 1984, which was riddled with accidents, robberies, and the like, none of which kept her from finishing what she started. Here, she’s photographed looking sophisticated AF on her bike.
Anna Lee Fisher
In 1984, NASA astronaut Anna Lee Fisher became the first mother in space because who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Not only did she seriously step up the country’s space game, but she now also stands as the oldest active American astronaut. She’s also a chemist and an emergency physician.
Hanadi Zakaria al-Hindi
Hanadi Zakaraia al-Hindi became the first female Saudi commercial airline pilot in 2014. In a country where women are still not allowed to drive a car, Hanadi’s achievement is groundbreaking. A huge proponent of the empowerment of Saudi women, she stated, “Women are very capable of taking on any job previously monopolized by men.” Amen.
Images via filminspector.com, history.com, motorcyclistonline.com, The Cut, and arabnews.com
Stay tuned to Milk for more women who slay in any given century.