The Words Make The Woman
Year of the Phenomenal Story Told by a Phenomenal Woman

Making Bad Girls Better in 2020

Word of the week wayward

Women who aren't afraid to be...

This blog and site is dedicated to working with smart, talented women. Women who aren't afraid to be shameless, gutsy, bold, and even brash, if it's called for.

I'm a big fan if the word 'wayward'. Old story but worth repeating - back in Colorado, Tom and I visited an old antique shop on a regular basis. We found some great buys for our home, there. Tables, and pictures, and even gifts for family.

One day, as we were slowly moving along the aisle, I spotted a window with writing on it. Intrigued, I stepped closer and was treated to this:

Institute for wayward young women sign

My first reaction was to burst out laughing! "Hey, Tom," I called, waving him over, away from the old books he was looking through, "Look at this."

He came over and grinned. "That's a find,"  he said.  "How much is it?"

I don't remember how much it was, and it doesn't matter, because we bought it. It now hangs on my office wall, directly in front of me.

Why did the person who made the sign want to make "bad girls better"? What did that even mean?

And, was the "institute" a real place for wayward  young women?

Perhaps it was. Wayward is another word for stubborn, or determined, capricious, and headstrong. Someone who doesn't let society push her around. A young woman who  takes matters into her own hands and the consequences be damned! 

If that window hung on a door somewhere in Colorado, on some building downtown, perhaps, in the early days of the last century, and it was true to its cause, the young women were, I suspect, being hidden away because they were guilty of nothing more than an unwanted pregnancy, shameful in its appearance, to a staid society with proper upright morals. 

I like to think of some of them as truly wayward - not ashamed, as they should be. Not willing to be hidden from the world. Not ready to be labeled with whatever vulgar label unwed mothers were given then.

I like to think, perhaps, there were girls who were also not pregnant, but were out of control, according to some rule in their households. Girls who wanted to read and write and be heard, when they spoke. Girls who wanted to challenge the status quo and make something of themselves - girls whose only goal in life was to NOT be Mrs. Somebody or other, because they knew if that happened, they were lost, forever.

Truth is, I might have been one of them. I might have been a wild and boisterous girl, guarding my independence jealously. I might have been a girl who refused to let someone else, certainly men or women who allowed men to run their lives, tell me I couldn't do this or that. I might have been a rabble rouser - gathering other girls to picket the town hall and demand the right to a higher education, or to the vote, or to make decisions about my life, by myself. 

How lucky are we that we live now, in a world that - while still struggling to allow us all of our civil rights  - does allow us more leeway than any wayward girl of the early 20th century.

It's with that thought in mind, and my daily view of the window now hanging on my wall, that I share some insight into being a powerful, determined, successful woman today, in the 21st century, where our voices are ever being raised higher and louder, as we insist on equal rights for all. 

Recently, I was treated to some information on the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, according to IBM Watson Personality Insights, shared with me by They gathered 5 Personality Traits and deciphered which ones fit some of the most powerful women we know. There are women whose names are very familiar, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Beyonce, and Oprah Winfrey. And there are names you might not be familiar with, as I was not, like Jenny Lee, Rosalind Brewer, and Kirsten Green. 

I'm a sucker for this kind of content. I admit it. While I support you, and all the women in my Smart Women Conversations, and all the women (and a few men) who contributed to my latest book...COMING SOON! A never before seen look at how to write a book from start to finish: The HOW TO WRITE A BOOK Book by myself and my co-author, husband Tom Collins...  I have to occasionally honor the great women we all look up to.

Women with sincere, true, honest accomplishments, in technology, politics, the arts, and fashion.

Women who made goals, worked diligently at them, and succeeded - well enough to receive the recognition in the insightful look at the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.

Porch dot com powerful women image



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Carol Hanson

Love the story about your window. I'm with you all the way on that and indeed count myself as wayward - kindred spirit! I love these personality traits too. They really highlight our female approach to success.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)