Recently I was asked to name a female role model. The women who came to mind are all those who seek to create better opportunities and who speak out on behalf of women and children. I have always admired not just women who thrive in the face of adversity, but also those who choose who feel compelled to use their influence for good. Though I am sure there are many women who do the same without a certain level of influence, and they are equally admirable.
So the names that came to mind were Maria Bello, Christy Turlington, Maria Shriver, Geena Davis, Marlo Thomas, and Ashley Judd. I have had the good fortune to hear Christy Turlington, Geena Davis and Maria Bello speak passionately about their advocacy work and the causes which drive them. I have read The Shriver Report from cover to cover, supported the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and watched as Ashley Judd went testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the need to stop the spread of HIV. These women, who are all in a position to continue on the path of their vocation or to simply rest on their laurels, chose instead to make the time and effort to help those less fortunate. Not just by writing a check, but by genuinely getting their hands dirty, as well as by using their voices and influence to spread the word about the injustices for which they have become passionate advocates.
I have to admit that there is something about Ashley Judd that has always intrigued me. When you watched or read her press interviews as she promoted her films, it was evident that she is exceptionally bright. There was also always something in her that to me seemed a tiny bit pained. Perhaps it was the process of doing press, but it appeared to me to be something more. Though I could not quite put my finger on it, somehow it always captivated me. Well, that and the fact that she is a stunningly beautiful woman too.
A couple of months ago I was sent a review copy of Ashley Judd’s autobiography, All That is Bitter and Sweet, and last week I finally had a chance to read the book in its entirety. As someone who usually zips through books, this one was chock full of so many details that I found myself taking more time with it than usual. There was so much information to absorb, so many details about her life that revealed the pain behind that person in the interviews. The story of her life is beautiful and yet so very tragic at the same time. She endured an utterly confusing and painful childhood. The kind that reading about gives puts a pit in your stomach. Yet she had several wonderful people who influenced her in a way that reminded her of the good in life. Her good fortune came in meeting those people along the way. Their kindness, in all likelihood, was what helped her generate the will to save herself. And not only has she thrived though that adversity, she has gone on to help others.
There were a few moments while reading the book when I found the jumping around of time periods a bit confusing. Other than that the book left me feeling floored. Impressed by her openness and honesty about her life, finally understanding the pain behind her eyes, and hoping that in writing her book she has found some solace.
When people think that celebrities lead charmed lives, that all they do is write a check to support a cause, they need to read even just a few pages of Ashley Judd’s book, and her inspiring life story of hope and determination.
“… But I do not regret standing up and saying, ‘This is what life was like for me.’ I owed that to the small child I had been, for whom I am now responsible, whose advocate I am and must continue to be.
… It’s not about staying stuck in it. It’s about having my story straight, so I can genuinely arrive at that place where I can say, ‘That was then, this is now. So what? Now what?’”
Disclosure: I was sent a signed copy of Ashley Judd’s book, All That is Bitter & Sweet, though I was under no obligation to write a post about it. All opinions expressed here are purely my own. There is an affiliate link in this post.