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Championing The Cowgirl Spirit


Fancy Lady Cowgirl is a community dedicated to championing women from all walks of life through the cowgirl spirit. What started as a simple hashtag on social media eventually became a rallying cry for women everywhere who don’t fit into the societal and cultural boundaries placed on them.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of an oddball. I grew up a fourth generation cowgirl alongside my ranching family in Kansas, but I was always enthralled with big cities, high fashion and far away adventures. I adore and even yearn for the slower paced rural lifestyle, but I’ve always felt equally alive in manic urban sprawls like New York City. I love getting gritty in my cowboy hat and I love being fancy in my high heels.

As a young adult I attended Oklahoma State University where I majored in rodeo, but more officially, agricultural communications. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do career wise, but as luck would have it I stumbled into a career that I fell in love with. In between college rodeos and a healthy dose of partying, I discovered my passion for storytelling thanks to an internship at a local television station. The rest was history. I knew almost instantly that television and entertainment was the path I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life.

Courteney DeHoff stands in a white jacket, blue demin jeans and a black cowboy hat and her brown house

After college, as my television career progressed, agents and managers in the “biz” not so politely informed me that living the cowgirl lifestyle wasn’t helping my career. They influenced me into believing that if I was ever going to be on television in major markets I had to drop the role of cowgirl. Being young and naïve I believed them.

For nearly a decade I stifled my cowgirl spirit in order to fit in and be accepted on mainstream television. I hid parts of myself for many years, but at my core I was the same little cowgirl from Kansas who loved the animals and the land. I was dressed in fancy city clothes, but I was still the gritty cowboy hat wearing kid from rural America.

Courteney DeHoff stands with her brown horse


Fast-forward over ten years after my television career began and I finally found the courage to start owning my upbringing. I began telling stories on my social media pages about the issues affecting rural Americans that the mainstream media wasn’t telling. They went viral and I finally felt like I had found my voice.

The agriculture community was embracing me as a modern day mouthpiece for rural America. The television networks began to take notice and even let me tell a few of these ‘ag stories’ in prime time. I felt confident I had finally found my voice until I randomly posted a photo on my Facebook page, which was the true catalyst for the Fancy Lady Cowgirl movement.

This photo showed me standing in the subway in NYC headed to New York Fashion Week. What the agriculture community didn’t know was that I was telling agriculture stories while living in some of the largest cities in America. This photo crushed their pre-conceived notions of who I was. They screamed that I wasn’t even a real cowgirl. They sent messages that expressed their disappointment in the way I looked and where I lived. They wrote me off because I didn’t look the part.

I was crushed. The nasty comments and narrative being thrown my way because I didn’t fit the culturally accepted stereotypes of what a cowgirl, rancher or even farmer looked like, or how they lived, launched a movement that, to my shock, would be embraced by thousands from around the world.

Courtenay DeHoff poses in a pink shirt and a while cowboy hat

I labeled myself a Fancy Lady Cowgirl and stated that it’s not where you live or how you live, but rather a state of mind that makes you a cowgirl (or a farmer or a rancher or a welder or a mother or a doctor or an astronaut). Fancy Lady Cowgirl celebrates not fitting in. The brand celebrates juxtaposition.

Fancy Lady Cowgirl is a nod to women who embrace the traditional and non-traditional. The brand started with cowgirls, but a year later it’s beginning to seep into cultures and communities not inherently considered cowgirl, who embody cowgirl qualities such as bravery, tenacity, grit and drive. Fancy Lady Cowgirl is a celebration of the modern day woman who is doing it all in her own unique way. 

Photos by Kirstie Marie of Kirstie Marie Photography


woman with a white blazer and black shorts stands beside a large brown horse

June 17, 2024

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