Illustrator Ann Shen: Bad Girls Throughout History
“Suddenly they were very human, likely having the same doubts and fears, which made me feel more connected to them and as a result, a little braver.”
It’s only February, and it’s already been an interesting year for feminism. We’ve said goodbye to Mary Tyler Moore, arguably one of Hollywood’s most iconic women’s rights advocates. We’ve marched in the streets around the world. And now illustrator Ann Shen is releasing a notecard and journal counterpart to her September 2016 publication Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World.
“I came up with the idea when I was in a time in my life feeling less than, lost and scared about the future,” explains Shen. She was finishing up her final classes as an art student and received the open-ended assignment to create anything, just do it ten times. “I thought about what I wished existed the most—a guide to brave, inventive, revolutionary women who made their own way in the world.” And so she got started with the daunting task of narrowing down the world’s incredible women to a list of 100.
“Research was a major challenge because as it turns out, when only one half of the world’s population has historically been taught to read and write, it means that the stories of the other half are completely left out. It was also challenging to track down stories of strong females in non-western cultures, much less ones that had been or could be translated to English.”
“I decided to stick to my definition of redefining the ‘Bad Girl’ idea. It’s a term that’s been historically used to shame females into behaving in a societally accepted way; and these women who were pioneers in their fields and communities were absolutely not doing that.” Bad Girls Throughout History includes the stories of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer (not just the first female programmer, but the first ever); Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Novel Prize; Joan Jett, the godmother of punk; and, Shen’s favorite, Harriet Tubman, who “escaped slavery, [became] the first women to lead a charge in the Civil War, made over a dozen trips in the Underground Railroad to free slaves, spoke in support of women’s suffrage and donated her home to become a hospice for elderly African Americans.”
“I hope that the book, notecards, and journal all inspire readers to find a little more courage in their everyday life, especially to live the life they dream of having. All these women are behind you, and we stand on the shoulders of these giants. Be your own Bad Girl!”
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