It’s been 76 years since Amelia Earhart hopped in her final, legendary plane and disappeared across the misty Pacific Ocean. Her departure is shrouded in mysterious conspiracy theories (Did she drown? Was she executed on an island where she crash landed? Did she, in fact, survive the flight, change her name and go on living, unbeknownst to us all?).
Part of her legacy is crystal clear, though: how much she effing ruled.
Let’s first talk about what she’s known for: her accomplishments. She is the first woman ever to fly across the Atlantic Ocean! She’s flown this daunting course twice, and done it once SOLO.
She became the posterchild for female aviators, advocated for more women to assert themselves in male-dominated professional fields, and lent her celebrity and considerable know-how to the Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots. She went on to teach at Purdue University as a visiting faculty member, giving women advice on their careers. So much win.
But what about all the amazing stuff we don’t know about – her charisma, her fearlessness, not to mention her unbreakable spirit?
1. This woman was WAY ahead of her time, seriously.
Her views on marriage were incredibly progressive – as in, she was totally a feminist! She was rather relentlessly pursued by American publishing magnate George P. Putnam, who proposed to her a whopping total of six times. Earhart was at first unsure about the match, but finally gave in.
She refused to take her husband’s name, going so far as to suggest that he call himself Mr. Earhart. In fact, she didn’t even deign to call it a marriage, preferring the word “partnership” with “dual control.”
On her wedding day, she wrote Putnam a letter saying: “I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly.”
2. She was a fashionista!
Afraid that she would be judged by her peers for not having the aviator look down, she slept in her trademark leather jacket for three nights to give it a “worn-in” look. Now that’s DIY!
Earhart also later started a clothing line, calling for a “sleek and purposeful, yet feminine look.”
Also, there was that one time that she was a Cosmo Girl.
3. She joined the National Women’s Party and supported the Equal Rights Amendment.
Earhart actually led a 1932 delegation to President Hoover, trying to gain his support for the ERA.
After she was gone? The NWP established the Amelia Earhart Fund for Equal Rights. ‘Nuff said.
4. Her childhood sounds like it was the best.
Amelia was nicknamed Meeley and grew up with an equally adventurous younger sister, who went by the epithet Pidge. Their youth wasn’t conventional, because her parents didn’t believe in molding their daughters into “nice little girls,” instead letting them do what they wanted, giving them room to breathe and grow. They played by climbing trees, hunting rats with rifles, and “belly-slamming” sleds. She kept worms, moths, katydids, and a tree toad with dear old Pidge.
This bravery she developed as a child may have lead to her later audacity in her pilot career. When she attended a stunt flying exhibition at 20, she got hooked. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.”
5. She was a ridiculously eloquent writer and speaker!
The letters she wrote to her beloved mother proved it – and you can read more in Letters from Amelia: An Intimate Portrait of Amelia Earhart.
About her determination to attend college, she said, with pluckish courage, “Of course I’m going to [Bryn Mawr] if I have to drive a grocery wagon to accumulate the cash.”
About her college life: “Despite my unusual activity I am very well organized to do more the more I do. You know what I mean … I am not overdoing and all that is needed to bouncing health is plenty to eat and happiness. Consider me bursting, please.”
The telegram she sent to her mother on the eve of her first transatlantic flight is one of the most joyous I have ever had the pleasure of reading: “DON'T WORRY STOP NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IT WILL HAVE BEEN WORTH THE TRYING STOP LOVE – A”
When she was teaching female students at Purdue? “And if you should find that you are the first woman to feel an urge in that direction, what does it matter? Feel it and act on it just the same. It may turn out to be fun. And to me fun is the indispensable part of work.”
Source: Brain Pickings
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.
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