When I was in college there was a girls’ flag football league. The girls were extremely aggressive. —Lynn Swann
All girls are pretty and tough. I’ve never met one who wasn’t. Neither the pretty nor the tough are always visibly evident. In fact, if we see one we tend to miss the other. Men, especially those of my generation and older, can be ridiculously one-sided in how we see women and that is evident in the way we treat them. Selling a girl short, though, is a mistake. I don’t have space to list all the pretty tough girls I know, but I want to highlight four who have my attention and deserve yours as well.
Let’s start with the girl in the picture: Cynthia Schmidt. If you’ve been around here very long you already know she’s one of my favorite Indiana models. When I first met Cynthia, she was only 18, fresh out of high school, obviously athletic, and far from fitting into any stereotype anywhere. She ended up joining the Army, ultimately going into the reserves, and proving she could handle anything the guys could dish out. She came back to Indiana for a few years then moved to Las Vegas where she became a star wide receiver in what is now the Legends Football League. If you think these girls don’t play real football, you’ve got some adjusting to do. As NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann infers above, these girls come to play some serious ball and aren’t afraid to hit hard. Last week, this video of Cynthia was released. I think it sums up both the pretty and tough quite well.
I have been Facebook friends with Cathy McNeil Stein for a little over seven years now. We almost met once, but that never quite worked out. I need to make that happen, though, because Cathy is one of those pretty strong girls who shapes pretty strong girls. Having received her Juris Doctorate from Harvard about the same time as some other prominent Illinois people with whom we’re acquainted, Cathy stayed out of the harsh light of politics and focused on the courtroom. She is very strong on women’s and civil rights issues, which, if I remember correctly, is how we became acquainted in the first place. Her opinions teach me to think in directions not inherent to my stubborn brain. What has impressed me more recently, though, has been her work as Mock Trial Coach for Timothy Christian High School in Elmhurst, IL. Talk about tough! This past weekend, she led her team to what I believe is their fourth state championship! What she is doing with the young men and women at that school, as well as at North Central College where she is an adjunct professor, is shaping minds that will hopefully be instrumental in moving the entire country forward. Perhaps one of these days I’ll get up there and take a picture of her smiling face. I just hope I don’t have to get arrested to get an appointment.
Another person on my list would be Cindy Whitehead. I still have no idea why Cindy sent me a Facebook friend request back in 2012. I’m fairly certain I’m more a fan of hers than she is of mine. She rarely comes this direction and I’ve not been back to California since we became acquainted, so I don’t have any pictures that I’ve taken of her and don’t know that I’ll ever have the opportunity. I do know that when it comes to pretty tough girls, Cindy breaks the mold. She is known to most as one bad-ass skateboarder. How bad-ass, you ask? This is the girl who got up one morning and rode her skateboard on the 405; as in Interstate 405, the multi-laned major North/South thoroughfare across Southern California. Cindy is also founder of Girl Is Not A Four Letter Word, an organization that encourages, supports, and facilitates women’s involvement in extreme sports such as skateboarding and surfing. Cindy has done enough noteworthy things in the past 25 years to fill a couple of books, which might be fun to write. I think, though, to best understand why Cindy rocks, you’d best listen to her for yourself. Here she is at a TED-x forum:
I’m closing this with the pretty tough girl who means the most to me: Katherine Franson. I’ll try to avoid the gushy sentimental stuff, though that’s rather difficult. When Kat and I met three-and-a-half years ago, I thought I was reasonably healthy. Sure, there were days when the arthritis was more problematic than others, but I assumed I was doing sufficiently well for my age and absolutely horrible lifestyle. Then, within weeks of moving in together, I injured my leg and that set off a chain reaction of medical complications we’re still fighting. I have never been so thankful to have a U.S. Marine in my life as I was those first few months, though. More than once Kat has had to lift my limp body off the floor, help me down the hall, and at times even help me get dressed. Through every bit of it, she’s been the tough one, pushing for me to get the care that I need, helping me make adjustments in how I work, and minimizing the pain and depression of having to do less. When we met, she rarely wore makeup. She didn’t like it. Now, here she is about to finish school so she can do hair and makeup full time. Pretty. Tough.
As I said at the beginning, every girl is pretty and tough. These are just four examples that really stand out for me. So, when you hear some lame ass presidential candidate talk about the “woman card” or how easy women have it; or when you hear some religiously-motivated former child-actor talk about how women should follow men’s lead, remember these four examples and know that they represent the strength and beauty, determination and resolve, intelligence and capability of every girl on this planet. Do not disparage them or fail to show them any respect. They already run the world, there are just some idiots who have yet to figure that out.