Today is International Women’s Day, and we wanted to celebrate women worldwide that have helped pioneer changes that are significant but sometimes overlooked. These women’s names are not household names, but we can thank them for the support to help bring equality to every woman in every household.
“Don’t think about making women fit the world — think about making the world fit women.” – Gloria Steinem.
Women that paved the way for pants
It’s hard to believe that there was a time when it was illegal for women to wear pants in the United States and many places worldwide. Early women’s rights activists in the 1850s Elizabeth Smith Miller and Amelia Bloomer came up with clever ways to get around these laws by introducing Turkish-style pantaloons worn underneath a knee-length skirt. These pantaloons were named what we know today as bloomers. Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor, was arrested several times for wearing men’s trousers and clothing and even had been arrested at the age of 80 in 1913.
During World War I, women were recruited into working at factories and replaced jobs that men had, such as public transport. These women were not safe wearing dresses and flowing garments at these jobs, so they wore trousers. Because of this necessity, women wearing pants started becoming the norm and was finally accepted by society as a form of work attire, but there was still a long way to go. In 1919, labor leader Luisa Capetillo became the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public. She was arrested, and it was then considered a crime for women to wear trousers in public in Puerto Rico.
With the help of Hollywood, glamorous actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were often photographed wearing stylish trousers in the early 1930s, showing the world that wearing pants wasn’t just for the working-class woman. Eleanor Roosevelt became the first First Lady to appear in trousers at a formal function in 1933. Still, it wasn’t until 1939 that Vogue magazine featured its first spread of women wearing trousers–what a historical moment!
Even hitting all of these milestones for freedom of wearing pants, it was not until 1993 that women were allowed to wear pants on the U.S. Senate floor. To put this into perspective, that’s over 143 years since Miller and Bloomer found ways to help women feel more comfortable with freedom of movement by introducing bloomers as an undergarment to wear with restrictive dresses. I didn’t even mention the laced corsets that had to be worn…but that is another topic of discussion!
Hats off to the women that helped pave the road to freedom! Imagine not being able to legally wear yoga pants or leggings today!
Women that helped invent today’s tech, but you never hear about
I bet you didn’t know that the world’s first “computer programmer” was a woman. In the 1830s, Ada Lovelace was a teenage mathematics genius in England who worked with Charles Babbage, known as the “father of computers”. She was highly interested in his work on the Analytical Engine, which is considered to be the first computer ever built. According to Wikipedia, Lovelace was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer. Very cool!
Another remarkable woman that comes to mind is Austrian-born Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr. Drop-dead gorgeous with brains to boot, Lamarr joined forces with American avant-garde composer George Antheil to develop a radio guidance system at the beginning of WWII. This system was built for Allied torpedoes to defeat the threat of radio transmissions being jammed and interrupted by the enemy. The spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology they created helped develop the principles of Bluetooth and GPS technology and are similar to legacy versions of Wi-Fi. Lamarr and Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014. Go teamwork!
Women inventors of beauty breakthroughs
In 1867, Sarah Breedlove was the first child born in her family after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Already a widow by the age of 20, Breedlove worked hard as a laundress trying to make a living by herself. She realized that many black women like herself were having issues with hair loss and scalp diseases due to the lack of plumbing and harmful ingredients within hair products. Breedlove decided it was time to develop her own line of hair care products under the name Madam C. J. Walker. She set up a school to train thousands of African American women to become “hair culturalists,” resulting in job creation for these newly trained beauticians. Her hard work and dedication helped her become the first self-made female millionaire in the United States! You can purchase Madam C. J. Walker’s products at Sephora and Walmart as Breedlove’s legacy lives on.
Fast-forward 155 years to modern times when plastic flooding the oceans and landfills become a worldwide threat. Brands are now focusing on creating packaging to help reduce waste, and two women went even further together to create a waterless concentrated product. Former beauty executives Jayme Jenkins and Jessica Stevenson brainstormed on a concept of what an American beauty brand would look like that didn’t produce single-use plastics. It took several years of research and development until their product was satisfactory. Still, they finally landed the brand and started Everist–a beauty brand focusing on the first patent-pending waterless concentrates for hair and body. These concentrates, housed in small aluminum containers, are like a thick paste and activated by your shower water. Clean and plant-based, Everist and the ladies that created it are taking giant leaps (with small carbon footprints) towards environmentally-friendly packaging–a trend that all brands need to consider.
You can join the “ditch the razor” movement and start your at-home laser treatments with Tria’s 4X Hair Removal Laser. Reduce plastic razor and shaving product packaging waste by permanently removing body hair at home.
We hoped you enjoyed reading and learning more about these phenomenal women on International Women’s Day!