Nellie Bly: Celebrating One Opinionated Broad

Nellie Bly birthday, Google, opinionated women

Nellie Bly: The opinionated woman’s patron saint?

The first time I had a letter to the editor published I was hooked. It was in high school and while I can’t recall the topic, I’m sure it was full of self-righteousness and shock at the state of my world. Back then I was an opinionated high school girl set on saving the world by evangelizing to my classmates. “Have you discovered the path of human rights? Please join me at Amnesty International on Tuesdays after school!”  Classmates would laugh and tell me no one cared about human or animal rights. And part of me believed them until I got that little letter published in our local newspaper. Hot damn!

So today on the birth of Nellie Bly, the patron saint of opinionated women everywhere, we are enjoying the “Google Doodle” you see above. Bly became one of the first true investigative journalists when she went undercover, posing as a mentally ill woman, to expose the horrific conditions in a 19th century insane asylum. But before that, she penned a scathing op-ed in response to an editorial entitled, “What Girls are Good For” which suggested that women were really only suited for life as a homemaker.

In her honor, I say let’s all write a letter to the editor! On what? I don’t care! Just open up your newspaper or your favorite news website and find an article that you have an opinion on. Looking at the front page of the Chicago Tribune website I see many possibilities:

* Pro/Con on using public funds to lure high profile events such as the NFL Draft or the James Beard Food Awards to Chicago,

* The re-sentencing of a man who was given life in prison at age 14 despite the fact the U.S. Supreme Court says such a sentence for a person that age is unconstitutional. Plus he has turned his life around since his crime, and,

* Whether you like the renovations to Wrigley Field.

Like I said anything! All you need is to stay around 400 words and write with conviction and supporting facts. Because I know you already have an opinion!

Veronica Arreola writes the blog Viva la Feminista, where she tries to navigate and understand the intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinadad. You can follow her on Twitter @veronicaeye. To contact Veronica for an interview or to book her as a speaker, she can be reached at

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  • Nellie Bly has been one of my heroes for a long time. Her sense of adventure, daring, and not seeming to care very much that she was a woman who wasn’t expected to do the things she did, will never stop amazing and inspiring me. Thanks for talking about her – and that kickass animated Google doodle, which totally made my day when I saw it – here!

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