At thirty years old, Elise Stefanik is the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress. With her strong and assertive manner, the New York Republican has done her best to move beyond her past as a target of bullying.
In a profile piece published in the New York Post, Stefanik reveals that in her youth she was the mark of “mean girls” who singled her our for being “too studious” and participating in classroom discussions.
After a gym-class bully violently yanked a hair clip out of her hair and the Catholic school said they could do nothing, Stefanik was transferred to Albany Academy for Girls, where she excelled academically.
Today she represents that 21st District in upstate New York. “I do not look back at all and ever say: ‘Look at me now!’” she told the Post. “I’m just not that kind of person.”
Stefanik claims that right now her goals are concentrating on the job at hand and trying to be a positive role model for women. She recalls during her campaign run, a set of parents brought their elementary-school-age daughters to hear her speak.
“This was a nonpolitical family who’d never come to a rally,” says Stefanik. “But they wanted to show their daughters . . . what they can achieve, too. That was really humbling.”
Stefanik knows what it means to be a woman in politics, with constant criticisms about her looks and attire: “I usually try to wear stuff that is versatile, pretty classic.” People also attempt to discover details about her private life since, being young and unmarried, she is sometimes considered too inexperienced by older critics.
The attempts to undermine Stefanik and her accomplishments have failed, and she defeated her competitor with 53.4% of the vote. Now her focus is on bringing economic empowerment to her district and dealing with the day-to-day problems facing the vast region.
Image c/o AP
Princess Weekes is a part-time bookseller and a full-time writer with a Master’s in English from Brooklyn College. A former intern at BUST magazine, she has since written articles for The Mary Sue, BUST and maintains her own video channel under the name Melina Pendulum, discussing the intersection of pop culture, feminism and race. She is currently working on a fantasy novel about black witches during the Jim Crow era, while attempting to purchase every liquid lipstick the world has to offer.