From Demi Lovato to Kathryn Bigelow: 11 Most Inspirational Women of 2011

Here are the ladies who rocked 2011, inspiring us with their accomplishments, their passion and the way they live their lives.
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From Demi Lovato to Kathryn Bigelow: 11 Most Inspirational Women of 2011

Here are the ladies who rocked 2011, inspiring us with their accomplishments, their passion and the way they live their lives.

-The Betty Editors

Inspirational Women

As we’re getting our sequined frocks ready for New Year’s Eve and thinking about what we want the year ahead to hold, we can’t help but reflect on all that 2011 brought us — both good and bad. In a world filled with the antics of spoiled celebs and fame-hungry reality “stars”, we’re glad to turn our attention and focus on some of the people who truly inspire. Here are just a few of the women who made the world a whole lot brighter in 2011.

Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow

Avatar may have scored some big awards at the Oscars back in March, but James Cameron didn’t win Best Director. Instead, that honor went to Kathryn Bigelow for her magnificent work on The Hurt Locker—as well it should have. Here’s that thing: Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman in the entire history of the Oscars to win Best Director. Did we mention that the Oscars have been running for 83 years? Although we’ve made leaps about bounds since the women’s suffrage era, we’re still a long way off from gender equality, especially when it comes to male-dominated fields like the film industry. But Kathryn is proof that we can keep breaking down those barriers. Here’s hoping that she’s just the first of many, many more female Best Director winners in years to come!

(Oh, and the fact that she is James Cameron’s ex-wife is just a little bit of icing on an already spectacular cake. Don’t you think?) - Lucia Peters, associate editor

Zheng Guigui

You may not recognize her name; however, you’ll probably recognize the YouTube video that brought her to the world’s attention. Zheng Guigi is a 19-year-old woman from China who was born with no fingers on her right hand. Three years ago, she began learning how to play the piano. Today, she plays the instrument beautifully—better, in fact, than most people who have been studying for longer than three years and who have ten fingers. She wanted to learn; she didn’t let any obstacles hold her back; and now she’s playing concert halls. If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is. – Lucia Peters

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Zurana Horton

Zurana Horton

She wasn’t a celebrity, and her name only stayed in the news for a few weeks at the most, but this 34-year-old mom was the epitome of bravery and motherhood when she stepped in front of a bullet to shield her a group of children — including her 11-year-old daughter Alexis — as they were caught in gang-related crossfire in front of their Brooklyn school last October. According to New York Magazine, “In the fractions of seconds after the shooting began, 34-year-old Zurana Horton gathered Alexis and another girl who was standing nearby in her arms. Placing herself in the line of fire, she hovered over them like a bird enveloping her chicks.Horton died that day, and since then her life as a poor, black welfare mother of 13 has been held up to public scrutiny and scorn. Ultimately here was a woman who gave her life for her child, and she is a hero. -April Daniels Hussar, executive editor

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

I don’t always agree with her husband’s political moves and decisions, but having Michelle Obama represent our country as First Lady is truly an honor. I’m always inspired by Michelle’s ability to remain fiercely devoted to her children, to stand side by side with her husband on the world stage with such grace, warmth and poise, and to look gorgeous doing it. And I love that she’s dedicated herself to inspiring American kids to get active and healthy with her awesome “Let’s Move” campaign. Mrs. Obama, I’ll hula hoop with you any time! -April Daniels Hussar

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato

At the beginning of 2011, Demi sought treatment for an eating disorder and self-mutilation, but didn’t let these personal problems end her career. On the contrary, she faced her demons head on, and in doing so, served as a beacon of hope and inspiration to countless young women suffering through the same issues. Recently, she headed back to the treatment center, only this time as a motivational speaker. But her most inspirational act in my opinion: she called Disney out for a joke about anorexia on Shake It Up. We hope Demi continues to wow us in the New Year with her strength, openness, and determination to better the lives of troubled girls. -Diana Denza, contributor

More inspirational women, including Adele and J.K. Rowling, up next!


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