Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Every person has their own preferences and sees beauty differently. But one thing we can all agree on: beauty is more than the physical. In fact, some of the most beautiful people in the world are those who take actions that are beautiful.
We're talking amazing activists, powerful leaders, and breakers of barriers. These women are beautiful because of what they bring to the world.
If you want to know what true beauty looks like, keep reading. We'll highlight 30 amazing women from around the world whose actions have made a positive impact. We're willing to bet there are at least a few you haven't heard of, and that you'll find inspiration in most of them.
Jameela Jamil: Britain
Brigitte Bardot: France
via: Getty ImagesBrigitte Bardot is best known as an actress and singer, and is considered a sex icon. But her impact has gone way beyond that: after retiring from acting, Bardot took on the cause of animal rights. She's spent over 40 years raising money for animal welfare and working to end abusive practices. Kindness is beautiful.
Nadia Murad: Iraq
via: Getty ImagesNadia Murad was taken prisoner and abused by the Islamic State when she was only 19 years old. After escaping, she made it her mission to eradicate sexual violence as a weapon of war, and support victims. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. Compassion is beautiful.
Hedy Lamarr: Austria
via: Getty ImagesHedy Lamarr is well-known for her beauty and acting abilities, but what you might not know is that she was also aa brilliant inventor, entirely self-taught. She created something called frequency-hopping that kept torpedos from being tracked or jammed. This same technique is now used in Bluetooth. Invention is beautiful.
Noor Tagouri: Libya
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf: Liberia
via: Getty ImagesEllen Johnson-Sirleaf was the first female head of state in Africa. Her work goes far beyond her own country though: she has worked to bring women into the peacekeeping process, and is the chair of the Economic Community of West African States. Thanks to all of this work, she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Peace is beautiful.
Wangari Maathai: Kenya
via: Getty ImagesWangari Maathai founded the organization The Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization that empowers women to take action in environmental conservation. Wangari was from rural Kenya and saw that environmental changes were making it harder and harder for communities to thrive. She made the organization in response. Oh, and she won a Nobel Peace Prize. Community is beautiful.
Mae Jemison: United States
via: Getty ImagesMae Jemison was the first black woman to travel into space in 1992. Not only is she an engineer and physician, she also created a non-profit foundation and advocates for science education for minority students. Breaking barriers is beautiful.
Malala Yousafzai: Pakistan
Sadako Ogata: Japan
via: Getty ImagesSadako Ogata served as head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and in her time there worked to help refugees escape violent areas, while providing humanitarian aid. She worked on peace-building projects in Japan after she left the UN. Helping others is beautiful.
Owl Fisher: Iceland
Valentina Tereshkova: Russia
via: Getty ImagesValentina Tereshkova was the first (and youngest) woman to fly in space. After starting life as a textile factory worker, she joined the Air Force and made her way through the cosmonaut program. Ambition is beautiful.
Nadia Comaneci: Romania
via: Getty ImagesNadia Comaneci was the first gymast to achieve a perfect 10 score in the Olympic Games. She holds five Olympic gold medals, and now acts as a leader in gymnastics and the Olympics. Oh, and in her spare time she funded the Nadia Comaneci Children's Clinic to provide medical care and social support to Romanian children. Giving back is beautiful.
Rana el Kaliouby: Egypt
via: Getty ImagesRana el Kaliouby brings a special kind of beauty to the tech industry: she has been working in AI for decades, and her goal is to humanize technology by incorporating emotion. She has helped to give AI the ability to understand facial expression, tone of voice, and how people are feeling. The future is beautiful.
Xiaoyuan "Charlene" Ren: ChinaCharlene Ren has recognized that millions of rural Chinese can't access clean water, and one of the biggest challenges in meeting the need is finding those people. Charlene founded a network of people to test water quality and develop solutions for rural Chinese communities. Providing for others is beautiful.
Greta Thungberg: Sweden
via: Getty ImagesOne of the youngest entries on this list, Greta has a diagnosis of Asperger's that she has harnessed as a source of strength. She organizes around climate change, and has spoken around the world on the subject. Thinking differently is beautiful.
Irom Sharmila: India
via: Getty ImagesIrom Sharmila is a civil rights activist in India who spent 500 weeks on a hunger strike to protest the Armed Forces Act. For reference, that's 16 years. She was arrested for the charge of "attempt to commit suicide by means of indefinite fast." Activism is beautiful.
Bertha Von Suttner: Austria-Bohemia
via: Getty ImagesBertha Von Suttner was a Baroness who used her status to promote peace. She was a novelist whose books espouse pacifism and women's liberation. She is the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Nonviolence is beautiful.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar (Burma)
via: Getty ImagesAung San Suu Kyi was the head of state in Myanmar during the transition from military junta to partial democracy. She is known for using nonviolence to advocate for democracy, and was a prominent political prisoner. Her work helped Myanmar to hold democratic elections. Democracy is beautiful.
Milunka Savić: Serbia
via: Author UnknownMilunka Savic is the most-decorated female combatant in the history of warfare. No big deal, right? She fought in the Balkan Wars, and World War I, hiding herself as a man until she was injured and her gender was revealed. She was so useful that the army agreed to keep her on. Perseverance is beautiful.
Winnie Mandela: South Africa
via: Getty ImagesThe wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie joined her husband in his anti-apartheid work. She served in Parliament and was known as the "Mother of the Nation." Equality is beautiful.
Irena Sendlerowa: Poland
via: Getty ImagesIrena Sendlerowa was a humanitarian and social worker who smuggled Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. She was arrested by the Gestapo, but didn't let any information fall into their hands, even after torture. After the war, she continued her activism and went into government. Bravery is beautiful.
Yoani Sanchez: Cuba
via: re:publicaThe Cuban government is pretty strict about what news journalists can report. Yoani Sanchez is an independent journalist who provides updates from the ground that share the real story. Truth is beautiful.
Ada Lovelace: Britain
via: Getty ImagesAda Lovelace was a countess who did major work in computing (this was way back in the early 1800s). She's regarded by most people as one of the first computer programmers, and was the first person to suggest that computers could do more than simple number-crunching. Genius is beautiful.
Rita Levi-Montalcini: Italy
via: Getty ImagesRita Levi-Montalcini was a neurobiologist, which is impressive enough by itself, but she was an incredibly smart neurobiologist. She was a Nobel laureate, who significantly advanced cancer research after surviving the Holocaust. Learning is beautiful.
Countess Constance Markievicz: Ireland
via: Getty ImagesConstance Markievicz was a suffragist and the first female cabinet member in Europe. She was jailed multiple times because of her anti-conscription work, but didn't let that stop her. She continued to advocate for Irish rights. Freedom is beautiful.
Francia Marquez, Colombia
via: GUE/NGLFrancia Marquez does human rights and environmental activism in Colombia, with a special focus on illegal gold mining. She organized a massive protest march to demand the mining stop. She has stood up to threats and harassment to continue her advocacy. Saving the environment is beautiful.
Frida Kahlo: Mexico
via: Getty ImagesFrida Kahlo was a groundbreaking Mexican artist who dealt with lifelong pain and disability due to polio as a child and a bus accident in her teens. She used her art to explore gender, class, race, and identity. She is seen as an icon for Chicanos, feminism, and LGBTQ individuals. Differences are beautiful.
Marwa Al-Sabouni: Syria
Nisha Ayub: Malaysia
via: Getty ImagesNisha Ayub is a transgender rights activist who created the SEED Foundation to promote safety and rights for transgender individuals in Malaysia. She was jailed for dressing like a woman, and put into a male prison, where she was assaulted. Since then she has worked to prevent the same atrocities from happening to others. Being yourself is beautiful.