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10 Inspirational Women We Love (and Want to Be BFFs with)

We're living in a time when women are empowering other women to be, do, think, and say what we want. Women (and men) are paving the path to equality, fighting for human and animal rights, investing in healthier physical and mental lifestyles, and breaking gender stereotypes. Check out a few of our favorite inspirational women who are doing our world good.

Jennifer Hudson

1 / 10


Jennifer Hudson doesn't let anything stand in her way. After being booted off season 3 of "American Idol," Hudson landed a role in the 2006's "Dreamgirls" and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Since her breakthrough role, Hudson has appeared in multiple films; received several awards, including a Grammy, for her self-titled album in 2008; and performed at the Super Bowl. She suffered a tremendous tragedy when her mother, brother, and nephew were murdered in 2008, but she continues to be an icon of strength and an active spokeswoman for justice.

Photo: s_bukley /

Michelle Obama

2 / 10


Michelle Obama is much more than the wife of POTUS. Born on the South side of Chicago, Mrs. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton, graduated from Harvard Law, worked as a lawyer and public servant, and was raising two beautiful daughters before she ever stepped foot in the White House. Mrs. Obama has launched myriad programs as First Lady of the United States, most notably the Let's Move campaign to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity; the Joining Forces initiative to rally the support of Americans to service members, veterans, and their families; and Reach Higher, an effort to push students to continue education at high levels. Plus, she has killer dance moves.

Photo: Everett Collection /

Emma Watson

3 / 10


Her role as the bookish muggle Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series secured Emma Watson as a household name. In real life, Watson is every bit as smart and sharp as her character: She received a degree in English literature from Brown University in May 2014, was appointed a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador in July of the same year, and further fueled an intensifying fire with her speech on feminism delivered to the United Nations for the HeForShe movement in September. She's only 24 years old yet has been in 17 films, been nominated for 40 awards and won 16 of them, started a worldwide campaign for equality, and has remained a humble woman we adore.

Photo: s_bukley /

Malala Yousafzai

4 / 10


Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai delivered a speech titled "How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?" when she was merely 11 years old. Despite receiving death threats from the Taliban for her outspoken stance, she began blogging about life under the rule of the Taliban for the BBC, publicly stood up for women's education rights, and was awarded Pakistan's National Youth Peace Prize in 2011. On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on her way home from school. She miraculously recovered and nearly two years to the day later, Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at just 17 years old. Watch her goosebumps-inducing 2013 address to the United Nations—which happened to fall on her 16th birthday, mind you—and keep a close eye on this inspiring, brave young woman.

Photo: JStone /

Jennifer Lawrence

5 / 10


We love Jennifer Lawrence for her relatable personality and couldn't-care-less attitude toward Hollywood's rule book. She's talented and bright but doesn't take herself too seriously. When private photos of the Academy Award–winning Best Actress were released to the Internet last summer, J. Law responded with class and took a formidable stance in her refusal to apologize: "Just because I'm a public figure, just because I'm an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It's my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting." You go, girl.

Photo: cinemafestival /

Betty White

6 / 10


Funny girl Betty White has been in the entertainment business since 1940, and at 92 she's still going strong. Perhaps most well-known for her role as the ditzy Rose Nylund on the TV hit "The Golden Girls," White pursues passions that extend beyond the wash of Hollywood's spotlights. She has been a loyal supporter and active member of the Morris Animal Foundation since 1971, volunteers through the American Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet, and was made an honorary park ranger by the U.S. Forest Service. She makes 92 look really fun. Here's to hoping we turn out half as good.

Photo: Helga Esteb /

Lena Dunham

7 / 10


Lena Dunham doesn't give a shit. The creator, writer, and star of the hit show "Girls" is unequivocally raw in every aspect of her life. She's been transparent about a sexual assault as an undergrad at Oberlin College, wears the white hat for feminism, and is a role model through-and-through for girls to be themselves—quirks and all.

Photo: Jaguar PS /

Angelina Jolie

8 / 10


What isn't there to love about Angelina Jolie? She's altruistic, outspoken, independent, and resilient. Plus, she's a talented director and Oscar-winning actress. She has morphed from a Hollywood starlet to a humanitarian force over the course of her career and was recently presented with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by Queen Elizabeth II for her work to fight against sexual violence as a weapon during periods of war.

Photo: s_bukley /

Christy Turlington Burns

9 / 10


The American beauty is best known for her modeling for classic brands such as Calvin Klein and Maybelline, but in 2004 Christy Turlington Burns endured a dangerous childbirth that led to the documentary "No Woman, No Cry." The film follows four women and their caregivers from across the globe—Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and the United States—as they endure the process of giving birth. The film was released in 2010 and spurred the foundation of Every Mother Counts, an organization to raise awareness and funds to make childbirth safe for every mother and baby.

Photo: s_bukley /

Mo'ne Davis

10 / 10


She may only be 13, but Mo'ne Davis has already made a name for herself in the sporting world. The young pitcher became one of two girls in history to have pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, a feat that landed her a feature in and the cover of Sports Illustrated. Davis throws a 70-mile-per-hour fastball, which is 10-20 miles per hour higher than the average for her age division, an athletic performance that has earned praise and a lot of media attention.

Photo: Sports Illustrated

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