|Eleanor Roosevelt, an early role model.|
In my early 20s, married and a stay at home mom with two young children, I used to eagerly read Eleanor Roosevelt’s monthly column in Redbook Magazine. She became a major role model for me in the days before women were welcomed on either the national or the world stage. Heck, we weren’t even welcomed in the ranks of professionals in whatever field.
Over the ensuing years, though, I somehow never got around to reading Eleanor’s biography and although I heard that FDR betrayed her, I wasn't sure whether it was rumor or fact. Reading Eleanor Clift’s piece at the Daily Beast this morning brought tears to my eyes, and I marveled at the enduring heroism of my early role model.
Clift’s piece, titled Eleanor Roosevelt – feminist icon - should be required reading for all women, feminist or not:
Eleanor Roosevelt’s challenges began at a very young age with a mother who belittled her and a drug-addicted, alcoholic father who worshipped her. Orphaned by the age of ten and taken in by a well-meaning but dour grandmother, she found her footing at Allenswood, a girls’ boarding school just outside of London. The French headmistress, Marie Souvestre, took 15-year-old Eleanor under her wing and gave her a glimpse of what an independent woman’s life could be.
Nearly six feet tall, slender and with piercing blue eyes, the young Eleanor was not the aged woman that we have come to associate with her. Her teeth were not the best--there was no orthodontic work available then--but when 22-year-old Franklin Roosevelt proposed to a then 19-year-old Eleanor, he was as smitten with her as she was with the dashing young man. A man who also happened to be her fifth cousin once removed.