Why is it that we all respect a “balls-to-the-wall” attitude in men, but strong brazen women who dare to go for the gold are shunned or shamed into affable docility? Hmmmm, do we spend too much energy trying to be nice when, despite Santa’s admonition, naughty can be way more fun?
Now, we’re not advocating bitchiness here. No, Ma’am. We are, however, suggesting that perhaps a boobs-to-the-wall boldness, the stuff of strong brazen women, is in order right about now. You know, the kind that certain celebrities—ones we really respect—have in spades. Take our BFF Amy Schumer, for instance, who dared to bare it almost-all in a recent calendar shoot. We’ve loved her forever, and then she went and upped the ante.
And there are more brazen women like her. Ranging in age from 30s to 80s, these celebs answer the big question: Can we be brazen and still be likeable? Hell, yeah!
4 STRONG BRAZEN WOMEN WE REALLY, REALLY LIKE
Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter is music royalty, which is why Queen Bee could also stand for Queen Brazen. Now in her mid-30s, Beyonce rose to fame in the late nineties as lead singer of the R&B girl-group Destiny’s Child. But it was her destiny to go solo that was her break-out decision. Pretty soon, Beyonce’s debut album, Dangerously in Love, reached 13 million copies sold and earned her five Grammys. And she’s been churning out the hits ever since. Personally, her marriage to Jay Z and motherhood has done nothing to tamp down her super-sized talent and fiery persona. In fact, her alter-ego Sasha Fierce earned her a record-breaking six Grammy Awards in 2010, which included her raise-the-roof anthem for unmarried women and jewellers, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).
Bottom Line: She is a self-styled modern-day feminist whose songs are a mash-up of themes about love, relationships, monogamy, female sexuality and empowerment. Who runs the world? Well, according to the 2013 and 2014 Forbes list of the 100 most influential people, one fierce girl.
Tina (nee Elizabeth) started out in Chicago’s improv circuit as a writer and performer with an unfortunate haircut. Despite being a protégé to other comedians who were snapped up by Saturday Night Live, Fey was eventually discovered by Lorne Michaels and she reinvented herself as the sexy, bespectacled smart-ass co-anchor on SNL’s Weekend Update. She was also one of the show’s few female head writers. Known for her brains and brazenness, Tina, 45, ascended the comedy ranks as writer for the hit Mean Girls, then creator, executive producer, and star of her own award-winning show 30 Rock. Her appeal was best summed up by SNL producer Steve Higgins, who told Vanity Fair: When she got here she was kind of goofy looking, but everyone had a crush on her because she was so funny and bitingly mean.
Bottom Line: Her pitch-perfect Sarah Palin skit will live in sketch history as one of TV’s funniest (and most unflattering) impressions and the title of her bestselling memoir, Bossy Pants, says it all about how women at the top of their game and profession are seen. Tina’s new movie with Amy Poehler, Sisters, is case in point. Oh yes, Tina Fey (in sixties parlance) is boss.
With nearly a half-century of hit records, acclaimed acting roles, jaw-and cleavage-dropping gowns and drag-queenesque stage shows, Cher, is a self-styled “phoenix” who refuses to burn-out at age 69. Still revered (not just by her fangays), she can sell-out stadiums, has the figure of a teenager, the silky hair of a goddess, and soulful eyes that make her appear frozen in time. Just pick your favorite decade. Her Cher-ness displays her wicked wit in an interview with AARP, the magazine for the rockers-turned-rocking chair set: I have this fabulous chandelier in my sitting room, she says, and it goes off and on all the time for no reason. I always think it’s [Sony Bono] messing with me, because that is what he would do. About getting older: I don’t intend to step aside. This is the first generation that’s said, ‘We’re not going to roll over and play dead because we’re a certain age.’ About her love life: If it wasn’t for younger men, I would never have a date.
Bottom Line: Wigged out or not—Cher’s brazen beat goes on and on and on and on.
On Gloria Steinem’s 50th birthday, someone told her she looked good for her age. Her pre-botox Z-snap response: This is what 50 looks like. Now 81, feminist icon and author of the bestselling new book On The Road, Steinem has broken down barriers, defied stereotypes, and helped women shatter glass ceilings. She was a journalist, magazine editor (Ms.), Playboy bunny (undercover for an article), and activist who devoted her life to fighting misogyny, domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and the subjugation of women around the world. In 2000, she tied the knot with David Bale, father of the infamous Christian Bale, but sadly, the marriage ended just three years later when David died of brain cancer. Contrary to popular belief, Steinem did not coin the phrase A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. But she did wonder publicly about what it would be like if men could get pregnant. Free daycare and paid maternity leave, anyone? And unlike many less-deserving and pampered public figures, she insists on flying coach—egalitarian to the core.
Bottom Line: Whichever generation you belong to, we must all pay homage to this brazen feminist fatale whose intelligence, unwavering convictions, and leadership was and is downright liberating.
Jodie Gould is an award-winning writer and author of nine books, including HIGH: Six Guilt-Free Principles for Pleasure and Escape (Hazelden) and co-author of DATE LIKE A MAN: To Get the Man You Want (HarperCollins). She has contributed to numerous magazines and blogs, including Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Redbook and Showtime.com, where she wrote a monthly column. Jodie has appeared on Oprah, CNN, Extra and other national TV and radio shows.