9 Empowering Essays You Can Read Online Right Now If You're In Need Of Inspiration

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The internet can be a dark and, quite often, violent place for women — many of whom are subjected to trolling, harassment, and threats on a daily basis. But it can also be a truly wonderful place, one that provides free access to news, educational resources, entertainment, communication, and wealth of incredible writing — including these empowering essays by women you can read online right now. Written by Cecile Richards, Lindy West, Lady Gaga, and more, these essays are filled with inspiration and wisdom to guide you through your day.

For female readers, the online world can sometimes feel like a minefield, one that is littered with destructive words meant to tear women down or shut them up. But for famous authors and writers, beloved celebrities, and popular athletes, it can also serve as the perfect platform to share their empowering stories, which often include plenty of inspirational anecdotes and practical advice that makes the whole mess of the internet worth it.

Whether you’re looking for a bit of guidance in your own life, or hoping to inspire your friends with some sage advice from more experienced women, here are nine empowering essays you can read for free online right now.

"The Most Daring Women Don’t Always Make Headlines" by Cecile Richards

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"Today, women across this country are doing her proud. The earth is shifting under the force of millions of women standing up for themselves, for each other, for their daughters and their mothers and sisters," writes the former president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards in her inspiring piece about women and activism for Harper's Bazaar. "Women are no longer asking for permission. They’re just diving in and taking risks. They know we can’t afford to sit this one out."

Read the full essay here.

"Rebranding Motherhood" by Diksha Basu

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"If anything, so far being a mother feels quite delightfully self-indulgent. I have a daughter in whom I can constantly look for and find little bits of myself or, better yet, improved bits of myself," writes Windfall author Dikashu Basu in a moving essay for The New York Times about redefining motherhood. "Recently a construction worker called out to me on the street in Lower Manhattan and I got my angry anti-catcalling face ready to respond but he very respectfully said, 'You have a beautiful daughter, ma’am.' My vanity now has two bodies within which to reside — the sacrifice looks more like narcissism from certain angles."

Read the full essay here.

"This Is Survival" by Aly Raisman

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In a heartbreaking but incredibly powerful essay for The Players' Tribune, American gymnast Aly Raisman opens up about her experience with sexual abuse, and offers some words of encouragement to anyone else who has gone through the same thing. "I am not a victim. I am a survivor. The abuse does not define me, or anyone else who has been abused. This does not define the millions of those who’ve suffered sexual abuse," the two-time Olympian writes. "They are not victims, either. They are survivors. They are strong, they are brave, they are changing things so the next generation never has to go through what they did."

Read the full essay here.

"What I Learned at War" by Tammy Duckworth

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Senator Tammy Duckworth has often spoken out about her time serving in the U.S. army, including in this persuasive essay about the price of war and what it can teach us that she wrote for Politico. "That day, I lost both of my legs, but I was given a second chance at life," she writes, recounting her experience fighting in the Iraq War. "It’s a feeling that has helped to drive me in my second chance at service—no one should be left behind, and every American deserves another chance."

Read the full essay here.

"The 'Perfect Body' Is a Lie. I Believed It For a Long Time and Let It Shrink My Life" by Lindy West

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If you have read Lindy West's memoir Shrill, you know that she has a lot of incredibly insightful things to say fat acceptance and body positivity. In an essay for The Guardian, she shares some of them, saying "The 'perfect body' is a lie. I believed in it for a long time, and I let it shape my life, and shrink it – my real life, populated by my real body. Don’t let fiction tell you what to do. In the omnidirectional orgy gardens of Vlaxnoid, no one cares about your arm flab."

Read the full essay here.

"Bring It On" by Ibtihaj Muhammad

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The first Muslim American to medal in the Olympics, fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad opened up about what it is like to compete in an sport where so few people look like her. "One day, during a fifteen-hour flight to a training camp in Beijing, I arrived at a moment where I said enough is enough — I’d spent years fighting for every win, every opportunity, every ounce of respect on my path to becoming an Olympian, and I was no longer going to allow other people to affect how I perceived myself or restrict what I was capable of," she writes in Lenny Letter. "When people stared me down at a tournament, I didn’t know if it was a race thing or a religious thing or that they weren’t ready for change, but I finally realized: Why was that burden on me to figure out? I didn’t have the time to acquire their baggage or analyze why anyone wanted to make me feel inferior. I had a job to do on that team, and that job was winning a medal."

Read the full essay here.

"Why It's So Important That CEOs Like Me Speak Out Against Trump" by Reshma Saujani

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In an essay about corporate responsibility in the age of Trump by Reshma Saujani, the Girls Who Code founder and CEO reminds readers that individuals have a lot of power to enact change. "But if every American has the power to sway a CEO," she argues in a piece for Teen Vogue, "then every American quite literally has a chance to sway public opinion, to shape the way we talk and think and act on our values system — to change the way we treat our fellow Americans and those who come here seeking a better life for their families."

Read the full essay here.

"Ava DuVernay on How to 'Pivot Towards Positivity' in Trying Times" by Ava DuVernay

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There are few creatives as wise, or as giving when it comes to advice, as A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay. "These days I’m a lot less competitive, a lot less concerned about what other people do. I’m much more focused on the things that make me happy," she writes in an inspirational essay for InStyle. "I believe that good comes when you put out good, and so I just try to emanate joyful vibes. Why not? I’m not going to spend my day hating on someone else. I’ve got so many better and more joy-filled things to do."

Read the full essay here.

"Portrait of a Lady" by Lady Gaga

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In her 2016 essay on being a woman in the modern world, Lady Gaga opens up and offers a truly refreshing and inspiring perspective. "Being a lady today means being a fighter. It means being a survivor," she writes. "It means letting yourself be vulnerable and acknowledging your shame or that you're sad or you're angry. It takes great strength to do that."

Read the full essay here.