by Isi Esene
In honour of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State – and easily the world’s most powerful female – on her 65th birthday, here is a compiled list, courtesy of the Huffington Post, of what we love and admire about her — from the small things that make us smile to the important work she has done to advance the status of women all over the world.
Happy birthday to Hillary, the strong lady of American politics.
(Click links for the photos.)
1. As a child she wrote to NASA asking them how she could become an astronaut. The agency responded that they did not allow women in their programs.
2. The class of 1965 at Maine Township High School South voted her “Most Likely To Succeed.” How right they were!
3. She has always cared about social issues. As a teenager, she organized a program to provide babysitting for the children of migrant workers.
4. These groovy pants from back in her Wellesley days.
5. She was a contestant on “College Bowl,” thus reassuring brainy girls everywhere that it is just fine to be shamelessly smart.
6. She was the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley when her class graduated in 1969. After the class of 1969 campaigned for a student speaker at graduation, Wellesley president Ruth Adams chose Hillary as their spokesperson.
7. She loves adventure – and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. After graduating from college in 1969, she worked her way across Alaska by washing dishes in Mount McKinley National Park and sliming salmon in a fish processing cannery in Valdez.
8. She was one of 27 women in a class of 235 at Yale Law.
9. Her reason for choosing Yale Law School over Harvard. The New York Times reports Hillary’s anecdote about attending a cocktail party at Harvard Law School after she was admitted: “One of my friends said, ‘Professor So-and-So, this is Hillary Rodham, she’s trying to decide between us and our nearest competitor,'” Mrs. Clinton said. “And he looked down at me and he said, ‘Well, first, we don’t have a nearest competitor. And secondly, we don’t need any more women.”’
10. She tried to join the Marines in 1975, but was turned down. According to the New York Times, a Marine recruiter told Hillary: “You’re too old, you can’t see and you’re a woman.”
11. She was the only woman on the Nixon impeachment legal team.
12. She was the first female partner at her law firm in Arkansas. She worked for the Rose Law Firm from 1977 to 1993.
13. She was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers by the National Law Journal in 1988 and 1990.
14. She made the first move. Hillary told ABC News how she met Bill “He was looking at me, and I was looking at him. And I finally thought this was ridiculous, because every time I saw him on campus I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him, and he was always watching me. So I put my books down, I walked out, and I said, ‘You know, if you’re going to keep looking at me, and I’m going to keep looking back, we should know each other. I’m Hillary Rodham.'”
15. She says she fell in love with Bill because “he wasn’t afraid of me.”
16. She kept her maiden name after marrying Bill, and only changed it to assuage Arkansas voters.
17. She reminds us of the important women in our own lives… Like every mother in the world, she wants grandkids. In an interview with Vogue, Chelsea Clinton explained that Hillz isn’t above dropping numerous hints that she would be fine with the babymaking beginning anytime now.
18. …and she was a vigilant mom herself. Despite everything else that came with life in the White House, Hillary was reportedly involved in all aspects of Chelsea’s day-to-day life — including limiting her daughter’s TV consumption to 30 minutes a day.
19. She’s a Joni Mitchell fan — according to U.S. News, Chelsea is named after the song “Chelsea Morning.”
20. She was the first First Lady to hold a postgraduate degree — she graduated from Yale Law School in 1973.
21. She believed in universal healthcare way before it was cool. Hillary was ahead of the curve by about 20 years.
22. She is nothing if not pragmatic. When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sent a check to Bill’s presidential campaign in 1992, he immediately said, “We can’t cash this.” Hillary replied, “Make a copy, and then cash it.”
23. She rode out the Lewinsky scandal. We’re not sure if her decision to stay with Bill makes her very loyal, very calculating or both — but she emerged with her dignity and privacy mostly intact.
24. She won a Grammy Because she wasn’t impressive enough already, she took home the award for Best Spoken Word Album in 1997 for the audio version of “It Takes a Village.”
25. “It takes a village to raise a child” is, we think, the single biggest truth about parenting.
26. She cares about kids. During college, she was involved with the Children’s Defense Fund and Yale’s Child Study Center.
27. She was an incredible First Lady of Arkansas. During Bill’s tenure she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Legal Services and the Children’s Defense Fund.
28. She responds to insults with humor. Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” claimed that he would eat his “shoes [and] tie” if “Living History” sold one million copies. According to the New York Times, Clinton dropped by the “Crossfire” set with a giant brown shoe made of chocolate cake and a signed copy of her memoir for Carlson after the book sold over a million copies in its first month. Pure class.
29. She was the first woman elected to the Senate representing New York… She was elected to the Senate on November 7, 2000.
30. …and the first former First Lady to hold elected office.
31. She lets herself have fun — as those great pictures of her dancing and drinking beer in Colombia attest.
32. She’s unafraid to leave the house without makeup. After an image of Hillary going “au naturel” went viral, she told CNN: “I feel so relieved to be at the stage I’m at in my life right now. Because you know if I want to wear my glasses I’m wearing my glasses. If I want to wear my hair back I’m pulling my hair back. You know at some point it’s just not something that deserves a lot of time and attention. And if others want to worry about it, I let them do the worrying for a change.”
33. She wears her hair the way she wants to — even if that means getting criticized for her scrunchies…
34. …Or her headbands.
35. She doesn’t break a sweat under pressure… or ever. According to Condé Nast Traveler‘s Kevin Doyle, during his nine days traveling with Hillary, he didn’t see her produce a drop of perspiration.
36. She called out a reporter for asking sexist questions. When a reporter asked about her taste in clothing designers, Hillary responded, “Would you ever ask a man that question?”
37. She has Oscar de la Renta on speed dial, Her designer of choice is also a friend, New York Magazine reported.
38. She’s an aggressive advocate for maternal health. This summer she launched the ambitious “Saving Mothers, Giving Life” project to help mothers and infants in areas with high maternal mortality rates. The organization’s goal is to reduce maternal mortality in four demonstration districts by 50% in one year.
39. She hosted “Saturday Night Live.” Her “editorial response” to Amy Poehler’s sketch showed she isn’t afraid to laugh at herself.
40. These sunglasses. What more can we say?
41. Because “bitch is the new black.”
42. She has normal quirks. She puts Tabasco sauce on everything, says the Wall Street Journal — even salad!
43. She’s the most-traveled Secretary of State in history. According to Condé Nast Traveler, she will have clocked over one million miles by the time her term is over.
44. Meryl Streep is one of her fans and a friend. Streep’s tribute to Hillary at the 2012 Women in the World Summit focused on their personal relationship as well as Hillary’s accomplishments.
45. She’s the 2nd most powerful woman and 16th most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes.
46. She has an intricate understanding of business, too. Though politics is her first love, Hillary has served on the boards of Wal-Mart and TCBY.
47. She thanked the “Texts From Hillary” makers for “the lolz.”
48. She turned down Jason Segel’s offer to join “How I Met Your Mother” by sending him a hilarious note in the mail!
49. She’s a member of the National Women’s Hall Of Fame, inducted in 2005.
50. Sigourney Weaver played her on TV. Weaver stole the show in “Political Animals” as a carbon copy of Hillary.
51. She’s unwilling to sit on the sidelines. She dared to participate in politics as First Lady with the proposal of her health plan. She kept working after her husband became the governor of Arkansas. When her First Lady days were over, she ran for the Senate — and won.
52. She loses gracefully. After losing to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008, Hillary stated that she was “proud” and “excited” to join his team as the Secretary of State.
53. She rebounds from failure. Her healthcare plan was rejected, but she went on to become a U.S. senator. She lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, but she became the Secretary of State.
54. She helped launch the Women in Public Service Project, a venture between the State Department and several all-female colleges, to encourage women to enter public service. The group’s goal is for women to achieve parity in government jobs by 2050.
55. She doesn’t require immediate approval. The number of times Hillary has withstood withering criticism is proof enough of this, but she expanded on it a bit in Elle, “There’s a certain consistency to who I am and what I do, and I think people have finally said, ‘Well, you know, I kinda get her now.’ I’ve actually had people say that to me.”
56. She adapts. When asked about whether she had any ire toward Obama, she told Elle: “There is a sense that things, if you keep positive and optimistic about what can be done, do work out. Running for president was the most extraordinary experience. I would have preferred it turned out differently, but even the outcome of it was what led to this experience here in the State Department.”
57. She ultimately prevails. According to Gallup, her March 2011 approval ratings were higher than Obama’s, Biden’s, or Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’.
58. She made the president sleep on the couch.
59. Her plane is bigger than Bill’s plane.
60. She has been Gallup’s most admired women in America sixteen times.
61. She’s not perfect — and she learns from her mistakes. When she told Ted Koppel in 1992, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life,” she angered many stay-at-home mothers. By 2008, she had learned to acknowledge the value of homemakers’ work.
62. She ran for president – and became the first woman to win a presidential primary.
63. She might have been a better president than Bill — or at least Chelsea thinks so.
64. If well-behaved women rarely make history, she’s one for the books. One of her biographers, a McGill professor, wrote that Clinton “has been uniquely controversial and contradictory since she first appeared on the national radar screen in 1992.”
65. “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.“ In 1995, she articulated to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session — and, via media coverage of the event, the whole world, of the truth no one should have needed to spell out. Hillary, thank you.
This list is by no means exhaustive, this lady has done more than any biographer can document. Happy birthday Hillz!