May 03, 2021
And that's the tee... on iconic mother-daughter duos of history
It’s that time of year again, ladies… to celebrate the mamas and mother figures who raised us, empowered us, and made us who we are today. At The Feminista, we’re getting fired up for May 9th with a quick tribute to some of the most legendary mother-daughter duos in herstory.
You’re probably familiar with some of the most famous first families of Hollywood—ladies like Lisa Bonet and Zoe Kravitz or Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn—but we’d love to introduce you to a few of our favorite lesser-known duos: the iconic women who made names for themselves and then paved the way for their daughters to do the same.
So kick back and prepare to be inspired by this truly badass collection of suffragettes, starlets, and Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Then send some love to your mama this Mother’s Day (perhaps with a duo of tees?) and get back to carrying on her legacy :)
1. Marie Curie & Irène Joliot-Curie
We all know Madame Curie from her theory of radioactivity and research on radium—she's one of the most well-known and important female scientists of all time! But did you know her daughter Irène was an integral part of that work as well? During World War I, the duo worked together in mobile field hospitals, operating X-ray machines developed by Marie Curie herself, and later they returned to the Radium Institute where Irène followed in her mother's footsteps.
They're the only mother-daughter duo to have won the Nobel Prize... so far ;) Marie Curie won once in 1903 for Physics and again in 1911 for Chemistry. In 1935, Irène won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of the first-ever artificially-created radioactive atoms, opening the door for countless medical advances, especially in cancer research. Pretty pow-her-ful stuff, wouldn't you say?
2. Emmeline, Christabel & Sylvia Pankhurst
First, can we take a moment to appreciate those 19th century names? So good. But more seriously, these ladies were legendary suffragettes. And while Emmeline Pankhurst might not be a household name here in the U.S., she really should be.
In 1903, she founded the Women’s Social & Political Union and her daughters went on to lead various (and sometimes competing) factions of the feminist movement in Great Britain, sparking an important dialogue on feminist philosophy and advocacy strategy, and leading the way for activists seeking the right to vote in the U.S. and around the world.
It's important to note that the Pankhursts were often (and justifiably) chided for their too-militant tactics, but the scope of their influence remains undeniable. So much so that in 1999, Time magazine included Emmeline in their list of “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.” Couldn’t agree more.
3. Diana & Tracee Ellis Ross
We have Diana Ross to thank for so many good tunes, from her version of Ain't No Mountain High Enough to Baby Love and beyond. She's a (s)hero of Motown from her time as front-woman to the all-female vocal group, The Supremes—one of the best-selling girl groups in history, by the way—to her super successful solo career.
In 1976, Billboard named her "Female Entertainer of the Century." She's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012, she was celebrated with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. To say that Diana Ross is a legend barely scratches the surface...
But our favorite part of her legacy might just have to be her daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, a modern feminist inspiration. You may know her from acting gigs in comedies like Girlfriends and Black-ish (for which she has won several Emmys by the way, no big deal), or maybe her hair and beauty line for women and people of color, Pattern. But we love her most on Instagram, where she empowers us all just by being herself, sharing her perspective on fashion, pop culture and politics, and best of all: making us laugh.
4. Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley
Ever heard of The Vindication of the Rights of Women? It’s one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy—lauded today for being way ahead of its time—written by British writer and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft all the way back in 1792.
Her daughter? None other than Mary Shelley, author of what many consider to be the first ever science fiction novel: Frankenstein. Unfortunately, Wollstonecraft died soon after her daughter’s birth, but it’s clear that Shelley was deeply influenced by her work and more than carried on her feminist legacy by writing one of the most popular stories of all time.
5. Ingrid Bergman & Isabella Rossellini
Ingrid Bergman is basically Hollywood royalty. She's won Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, BAFTAs, Golden Globes—you name it. You might know her from her most famous roles, as Ilsa from Casablanca or maybe as Joan in Joan of Arc, but her career and life in the spotlight spanned five decades, and she continues to be celebrated for her beauty, intelligence, and boundless talent.
One of her daughters, Isabella Rossellini, continued in that line of work as a model and actor in films such as Blue Velvet and Death Becomes Her. But she's also a philanthropist and conservationist and even went back to school in her sixties to earn a degree in evolutionary biology, using her platform to inform and inspire others to appreciate and protect nature. She's also been an outspoken advocate for body positivity and against agism in Hollywood, and at 68, still serves as one of Lancôme's brand reps and models. We love to see it.
6. Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Harriot Stanton Blatch
You may know Elizabeth Cady Stanton from history class, a women’s suffrage activist who worked closely with Susan B. Anthony to rally women around the right to vote. She wrote The Declaration of Sentiments, which became the manifesto of the historic Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, describing the grievances and demands of the women's rights movement.
Her children aren’t famous, per se, but they did carry on her legacy in a big way. Harriot Stanton Blatch continued her mother’s work by helping her write the comprehensive History of Woman Suffrage. She also raised a daughter named Nora Stanton Blatch Barney, who became the first woman in the United States to earn a degree in civil engineering and succeeded her mother as President of the Women's Political Union in 1915. *Snaps* for the Stanton ladies!
Oh, and last but not least, we’d be remiss if we did not mention our favorite Feminista duo of all time: our “And My Mom” and “And My Daughter” graphic tees (a.k.a. the sweetest way to say “I love you” to your mama this Mother’s Day).
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