8 independent women who prove we control our own futures

In her upcoming movie Joy, Jennifer Lawrence plays real-life badass Joy Mangano, a single mom of three and the inventor of the Miracle Mop. The movie follows four generations of Joy’s self-made business empire, and definitively proves that women know how to get stuff done. It looks all kinds of amazing, and we couldn’t be happier to see an unsung hero get credit for getting stuff done.

It’s no secret that throughout history, women have rarely gotten their due — so we’re here to help. At HelloGiggles, there’s no shortage of women we love and admire. Here are just a few who constantly remind us just how much humans can accomplish — and check out Joy when it hits theater December 25, 2015 for even more inspiration.

Malala Yousafzai

There are few people in this world as extraordinary as Malala Yousafzai. The 18-year-old human rights advocate is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate of all time, and has been named one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People three years in a row — for good reason. When she was still 11, she blogged for the BBC about the Taliban occupation in Pakistan, and the following year, went public as the feature subject of a New York Times documentary. Despite innumerable hardships — amongst many things, this incredible young woman survived an assassination attempt in 2012 — Yousafzai has risen time and time again. To this day, she continues to fight for women’s rights for girls around the world. Yousafzai is fearless, brilliant, and unstoppable.

Sheryl Sandberg

If not for Sheryl Sandberg, a generation of women wouldn’t have the gift of “leaning in.” As the current COO of Facebook, Sandberg has continuously proven that women are just as capable as their male counterparts in the workplace, and therefore deserving of equal treatment and pay. While her resume is impressive (hello, former V.P. at Google), it’s her dedication to lifting up other women that makes her so darn extraordinary. She’s definitely one of our biggest life heroes, and we are forever grateful to her for constantly encouraging women everywhere to ask for what they deserve.

Janet Mock

As a young trans woman, Janet Mock had to fight for who she is — and in the process, proved just how resilient and strong women can be. She recounts her childhood and adolescence in her searing and essential memoir, Redefining Realness — and the book only solidified our love and admiration for all that she’s accomplished today. The New York Times best-selling author is host of her own TV show; one of the most notable advocates for trans rights in the world; and never fails to wow us every day.

Tavi Gevinson

While most of us were still figuring out how to navigate middle school, Tavi Gevinson was building an empire. At 11, Gevinson launched Style Rookie, one of the most well-known fashion blogs of all time. The site led to her attending fashion weeks around the world, and ultimately helped launch her expansive writing career. It’s hard to believe that Gevinson is still only 19, given how much she’s accomplished already. In 2008, she launched Rookie — the go-to website for teen girls (but, of course, adult women always welcome) — and has since released multiple books with the site. There’s nothing she can’t do; and we can’t wait to see what else she accomplishes.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Notorious R.B.G. — a.k.a., Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — got her badass nickname for a reason. As the second female Justice ever, Ginsburg has been holding it down for over 20 years and making sure women are represented and heard when it comes to federal law. We don’t have enough space to gush about all of her many accomplishments (and our appreciation), but to this day, she continues to make sure women’s rights are protected. (In particular, she has some very strong words about protecting women’s health access.) By and large, men still dominate politics — but Ginsburg is at the forefront of changing that narrative.

J.K. Rowling

It feels like almost everyone has heard the incredible story behind how Harry Potter came to life. Author J.K. Rowling was a single mother living on state benefits when she finished her first book about the world’s favorite boy wizard — and with only enough money to send copies to two publishers, all she could do was hope for the best. Luckily, one publisher was smart enough to accept it — and the rest is history. Seven books and eight movies later, Rowling remains extremely involved with the Harry Potter fan base; and she’s all-around one of the most hardworking, talented people out there. Her story is a classic “rags-to-riches” tale, with the perfect happy ending.

Cheryl Strayed

In case you haven’t read her gut-wrenchingly beautiful memoir, Cheryl Strayed has been through a lot. But rather than let circumstance, grief, and addiction keep her down, Strayed took matters into her own hands — and, in search of a life reboot, decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. The subsequent book based on the trip became a New York Times bestseller, and has since been made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Since then, Strayed has written one of the most beloved advice columns of all time (Dear Sugar), hosted a podcast, and is currently in the process of developing a TV show. She’s easily one of the most accomplished nonfiction writers of our time, and we remain in awe of her forever.

Joy Mangano

When it comes to self-made women, Joy Mangano takes the cake. The entrepreneur started inventing things as a teenager working at an animal hospital, and her inventions have only gotten more incredible from there. A single mother of three, Mangano had to work hard to provide for her family and worked multiple jobs before inventing her most notable product, the Miracle Mop. She’s an incredibly savvy and smart businesswoman that deserves all the recognition in the world for her accomplishments. At the moment, she’s president of her own company (Ingenious Designs LLC), and is still hustling to this day.