Mainstream media and a large number of users on social media laud and celebrate many women celebrities: the Kardashians and Jenners, Beyoncé, Cardi B, and Lizzo. Many of these women are lauded for their beauty, fashion, talent, and performance ability.
A common theme around these women is they aren’t exactly controversial. Lizzo is one poster child for the body positivity movement, both Cardi B and Beyoncé expressed support and endorsement for Joe Biden during the election, and the Kardashians and Jenners capitalize on petty controversy regarding their product lines and cosmetic work. It isn’t bad for women to be celebrated or known for their looks or artistic talent, but I’d like to also highlight women who serve as good examples of strength and civility — two things that seem lost in the current day and age.
Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes is likely someone not many have heard about, unless they’re big into UFC fights; however, she’s arguably the greatest of all time in women’s MMA, holding not one but two championship titles at the same time, while also being a mom.
Nunes was born in Pojuca, Brazil, a town just outside Salvador, Brazil, and was the youngest of three sisters. She lived as an only child while her two older sisters left to study and work in Salvador. She was a bit of a wild child, having traded a video game, her oldest sister’s bike, and 20 Brazilian reals for a mare, which her mother later found being bathed by Nunes in the backyard.
As a young girl, she wasn't just a self-starter when it came to getting what she wanted, but she trained in jiu-jitsu and capoeira, and was engaged in boxing and karate in her town. From a young age, she was involved in fighting and mixed martial arts, and it would only become an even larger part of her life at age 15, when her middle sister introduced her to Team Carvalho.
Her first coach said about her: “She had a great desire to practice, a lot of energy. We just used her gift…Amanda was industrious, liked to train, and that made us happy. Many athletes have the gift and do not like to train, but not only [did] she [like] it, she needed it, so we chose to support her. We knew she would follow a professional career when we saw her on the mat.”
Now, at just age 32, she holds two championship titles — one for the Women’s Featherweight class and another for Bantamweight class — and a record of 20 wins and 4 losses, with 13 wins by knockout and 6 title defenses. When asked about her goal at the beginning of her journey with the UFC, she said it was to “change women's MMA and be known as the best women fighter in the world for a long time.” Watching her fight is especially exciting; you can see the enthusiasm she brings to the octagon, the talent, and the result of her hard work and determination.
Late last year, Nunes became a mom, and she cites her little girl as giving her a new sense of purpose. “This time it’s different. This time I’m gonna be able to share with my daughter,” Nunes said. “To see my hand raised March 6 [for UFC 259], it’s gonna be the first time she’s gonna be there, and so I want to dedicate it for her. It’s just a new moment in my life. I’m pretty excited, and it makes me very happy.”
While the mainstream celebrates athletes mainly when they express their political opinions (like Colin Kaepernick or Megan Rapinoe), it would be nice if they celebrated and highlighted those who are literally making history today. Nunes truly exhibits the spirit of a lioness, not just in the way she fights, but in the devotion to her camp, her family, and to the sport. She’s a perfect example of a strong woman — she wasn’t born that way, like the “strong” women in movies that we’re told are the “right” examples. She worked hard, persevered, and made history in the UFC and women’s sports as arguably the best female MMA fighter.
Gina Carano has been in the news lately, and in spite of what people say about her, she’s maintained grace and a heart of gold, in an age where people are able to capitalize on their meltdowns (i.e. Trisha Paytas, a YouTuber who has nearly a million and a half subscribers and often uploads videos of her breakdowns).
She, like Nunes, was a fighter for the UFC, although she stopped fighting after her first professional loss (after 7 wins). She went on to pursue a career in acting, where she played roles that complemented her background as a fighter, most notably Angel Dust in Deadpool and Cara Dune in Disney’s The Mandalorian.
She exemplifies a strong woman, both physically and mentally, with a good heart. Prior to getting fired from The Mandalorian, she didn’t bow to the mob that engaged in hurtful rhetoric in an attempt to force her to put her pronouns in her Twitter bio, and she doesn’t let politics affect who she keeps as friends. During her interview with the Daily Wire, the subject of Pedro Pascal came up and how he posted an image supposedly comparing Germany in 1944 to America. Carano didn’t express anger at Pascal for the double standard, and instead said, “I adore him. I know he’s said and done some hurtful things…but...there’s so much love there still, you know?
She continued, “And we had an agreement after we realized we were a little bit politically different. We had an agreement that — first and foremost — you’re a human being. And you’re my friend first…we think a little bit differently…through our different experiences. I know that we both have misstepped on our tweets. We’re not perfect. We’re human beings, but he’s not a bad human being. He’s a sweet person.” Despite what fans of Pascal’s, and anti-fans of hers may say, Carano maintains this love and respect for Pascal.
In light of the cancellation, she didn’t bow down and apologize. Why would she, when one Disney producer called for the brutal murder of children, and Disney did nothing? She stood firm to her beliefs; while others (like Variety) lied and said she likened Republicans to Jews. Below is an image of the post she shared. Notice she didn’t originally write the post, it’s a screenshot from another user. Additionally, the word Republican doesn’t appear even once (reading comprehension is hard, I guess).
Image Credit: New York Post
The message wasn’t comparing the Holocaust to anything, but instead says the persecution of Jews in the beginning, prior to the Holocaust, was encouraged by the Nazis, encouraged by neighbors. It became permissible to treat Jews as less than human. The basic takeaway is “don’t demonize your neighbors.”
Carano has demonstrated resilience, strength, and kindness. Whether or not you agree with her politically, I would hope this opinion could be a bipartisan one (key word, “hope”), and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.
While Kamala Harris received applause for wearing Converse, Tulsi Gabbard was still a more popular Democratic presidential nominee than Kamala Harris back in late 2019. Additionally, while Kamala Harris was known for fighting to keep innocent people in prison during her time as Attorney General in California, Gabbard has a decorated history that the media has hardly made mention of.
Tulsi Gabbard was a congresswoman representing Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District (she announced her retirement in late 2019) and one of the first female combat veterans to be elected to Congress. But before running for president, she joined the Hawaii National Guard and was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait. While she was in Kuwait, she trained soldiers for the Kuwait National Guard. It’s important to have representatives who have served in the armed forces, because it’s better to have people in office who know what war looks like, and know what it means, than people who haven’t experienced such atrocities and champion it.
As a Democratic congresswoman, she has still defended Republican representatives and their constituents, condemning speaker Nancy Pelosi’s inflammatory remarks towards them. In spite of being a politician herself, she’s called out the unproductive and petty nature of politicians, likening working in Washington to high school. While some politicians publicly act like high schoolers in their divisive speech and behavior, at least Gabbard has demonstrated civility. While you may not agree with her on much, if anything, such behavior is rare to see these days, especially when rage drives attention for people (and I guess there’s no such thing as bad press).
I’m in no place to critique a mainstream female celebrity’s fame. After all, many at the end of the day produce media or products that others enjoy. But I do think the world and celebrated media should consist of more than someone’s looks or songs like “W.A.P.” But it’s my hope that more people find out about women like the ones listed, and can be inspired by timeless qualities, like strength and kindness.
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