Despite our culture's obsession with youth, time marches on and remarkable women just get more remarkable as they age. So here's to older women, and that includes much older women — women who are forging ahead, well into their second half-century.
You don't have to be famous to be inspirational to other women. But it's great to have so many well-known, accomplished older women to look up to.
Here are just a few such inspiring women:
1) Dr. Frances Kelsey, a doctor and pharmacologist, lived to be 101 years old
Via Wikimedia Commons
Though Dr. Kelsey was born in Canada, she was working for the FDA in 1961. She refused to approve the sale of thalidomide in the United States, despite pressure to do so. This prevented the occurrence of severe birth defects in potentially thousands of American children at that time.
Kelsey received honorary degrees. Congress awarded her a medal. In 1962, Kelsey was given the President's Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Award by President John F. Kennedy.
She was put in charge of a branch of the FDA responsible for tightening rules for testing and regulation of new drugs. Kelsey continued to work for the FDA until 2005, when she was 90 years of age.
2) Tao Porchon-Lynch, a yoga instructor, is 96
Via Beth Scupham / Flickr
Tao Porchon-Lynch has set a Guinness World Record as the world's oldest yoga instructor. In 1967 she became a professional yogi. She has done yoga for more than seven decades. In 2013 she released her most recent yoga DVD.
Porchon-Lynch is originally from India. She once won the title for "Best Legs in Europe." She has been an actress, a dancer, a model and a wine expert. She has met Charles de Gaulle, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
3) Olga Kotelko, track and field athlete, lived to be 95
Via Province of British Columbia / Flickr
Canadian Olga Kotelko played baseball when she was young but she really hit her stride after having retired from 30 years of teaching. While in her 70s, she tackled track and field, becomng the oldest female high jumper of all time, winning a multitude of awards and breaking world records.
A book was written about her in 2014, called "What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives," by Bruce Grierson.
4) Harriette Thompson, marathoner, is 92
Via Henrique Bizarria / Flickr
In 2014, Harriette Thompson broke the marathon record for women over the age of 90. In 2015, she was the oldest woman ever to be in a marathon. She has raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as part of Team in Training by running 16 marathons. She has brought in more than $100,000 worth of donations.
Thompson's husband died in 2015 of cancer. Her son Sydnor has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She is more intent than ever on doing what she can to help research to continue. In 2010, despite being given three months to two years left to live, after being diagnosed with oral cancer, she kept on running.
Only in 2013 did she take a break due to the burden of cancer treatment. In 2015 she has been having radiation for squamous cell carcinoma. But she continues to run.
5) Dr. Ruth Westheimer, sex expert, is 87
Via WikiMedia Commons
Dr. Ruth started teaching her audience about sex when she was in her mid-50s. Her radio show was called "Sexually Speaking." And over the years she has branched out with her aim to educate people about sex.
She has a private practice in sex therapy. She has used books, newspaper columns, magazines and television. She has taught in colleges and on her website. One of the many awards she has won is the Honorary President of the Council on Sexuality and Aging.
6) Maya Angelou, writer, lived to the age of 86
Via York College ISLGP / Flickr
Maya Angelou wrote autobiographies, essays and poetry. Her most recent autobiography was published in 2013, a year before her death. She gave lectures and readings even into her eighth decade. She worked with R&B musicians. She created Hallmark cards.
In the 1990s she read a poem for President Clinton's inauguration. Later she campaigned for the Democratic party.
7) Gloria Steinem, journalist, is 81
Gloria Steinem has been a journalist and women's rights activist for decades. In 1971 she was instrumental in forming the National Women's Political Caucus. She was a founding member for Ms. and New York magazines. She is a breast cancer survivor.
She has focused on writing about women's issues throughout her career. One example of this is her 1983 collection of essays, "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions." She has no intentions of retiring.
8) Jane Goodall, researcher, is 80
Via WikiMedia Commons
Jane Goodall spent over half a century in Tanzania where she has become the leading chimpanzee expert in the world. And she's not done yet. She is still an animal and environmental activist.
She has been celebrated in books and films. She has received many awards. In 2013 she was the Tournament of Roses Parade grand marshal.
9) Annie Leibovitz, photographer, is 65
Via Wikimedia Commons
Annie Leibovitz, mother of three daughters, has taken pictures of celebrities and other public figures for more than 40 years, starting with her time at Rolling Stone magazine. She later took photos for Vanity Fair. She is known for her ability to take photos that capture the subject's essence.
A collection of her work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. She was the official photographer for 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. The Brooklyn Museum of Art did a Leibovitz retrospective in 2005.
10) Diana Nyad, swimmer, turns 66 on August 22
Via Andrew Dallos / Flickr
Diana Nyad is a broadcast journalist and a writer who has published several books. In the 1980s and 1990s, she worked with many programs such as the Wide World of Sports. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as well as the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.
Nyad started trying to swim across the Florida Straits in 1978, making further attempts in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, she succeeded in swimming 110 miles from Havana, Cuba, to Florida without a shark cage in 53 hours.
20 Inspirational Women Over 65 - May 2015. Aplaceformom.com/blog. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2015.
The 10 Most Beautiful Women Over 65 - Sept. 2013. Aplaceformom.com/blog. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2015.
A Tribute to FDA's Dr. Frances Kelsey who Blocked US Thalidomide. EmpowHer.com. Retrieved Aug. 19, 2015.
All About Dr. Ruth. DrRuth.com. Retrieved Aug.19, 2015.
Marathoner Harriette Thompson, 92, Runs To Her Own Inspiring Rhythm. ESPN.com. Retrieved Aug. 19, 2015.
Gloria Steinem Biography. Biography.com. Retrieved Aug. 20, 2015.
Diana Nyad Completes Swim of a Lifetime. EmpowHer.com. Retrieved Aug. 19, 2015.
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger
Reviewed August 20, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN