Jess Phillips – Looking Upwards

Illustrated by Hannah Kirmes-Daly

“I sit down three metres from her, six minutes late to her talk, and she looks right at me. Her voice reaches me easily, certainly, the familiar (beloved) accent I grew up hearing and was taught to mock. Her long brown hair, her twice-a-mother body. I catch a flash of bright green varnish as she moves her hands and some frightened inner voice wonders with dismay how any serious person can want to paint their nails that colour – or any colour. I am faced with the person I have been taught not to admire: a mature woman, not thin, and not refined; but not escaping into masculinity either. I have been allowed two idols: the archetype of imposing queenly beauty and the archetype of cool androgynous brains. I have not been taught to look up to a female who is neither of these.

It is lucky for me that we can learn knew pathways to admiration. I only have to listen for some moments to understand she has one of the best minds I’ve encountered, a reformer’s mind: she can see straight through old structures to the better forms as yet unbuilt. She hasn’t given in to the threat that you cannot be good and also achieve, but has made more happen in her thirty-six years than most seventy-year-olds I know have in all of theirs: for others, and for herself. So many people, especially men, love to hate this woman. If only they knew how good it feels to look upwards.”

Written by Laura Jane Gallagher

 

There are so many incredible kick-ass women in the world, stepping up, speaking out and inspiring others with the work they do. Many who are visible, and many who are not. With this project we want to highlight grassroots female role models. So we want to hear from you! Who are the women in your life who makes you think, ‘yeah thats possible’! Women who have started businesses, projects, are fighting for a cause, are making their voices heard. Send us a photo and a small story celebrating the role model in your life to brushandbowinfo@gmail.com and we will turn this into an illustrated piece!

This series is in collaboration with Nomadways 

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