At ELLE’s 25th Women in Hollywood celebration held this Monday, Yara Shahidi among those honored. At only 18-years-old, Yara is the star of her own sitcom as well as an outspoken activism. It was no surprise that she chose to dedicate her speech to empowering others. Yara spoke about the importance of storytelling and how storytellers have one of the most important roles in society. She stressed the importance of diverse representation in all aspects of storytelling, whether history or fiction, as the place where people can first begin to see themselves and identify with that story. Shahidi concluded, “no matter what movement you decide to associate with, we are going to fight for you as a full human. Because you should be allowed the space to enter as a full, whole person.”
For the latest The New York Times project, “This is 18,” 22 young women around the world were asked to document peers from their communities. Each photographer comes from a diverse background with various stories to share. Some of the subjects had similar backgrounds to the photographers, while others were from their community but had completely different experiences. The project not only highlights the women photojournalists of the future, but also the significance of coming of age around the world. “This is 18” proves the connectedness we share in the 21st century global community.
This year, country music’s biggest night shifted its focus to honor the women of country music. Among the recipients of the Artists of the Year awards were Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, and Kelsea Ballerini. The night’s performances left audiences asking the question, “why aren’t more women on country radio?” Maren Morris stated that many people think “women don’t want to hear women. I will have to call BS on that one, because I grew up listening to women. That’s why I’m here today.” The night was filled with empowering speeches and a palpable sense of sisterhood.
The power of memory and personal experiences is so deeply rooted in an artist's work. This is especially true for Manuel Solano’s (they/them/theirs) portraits of women from pop culture and their family. After gradually becoming blind, they discovered a technique allowing them to create purely from memory. The subjects that they portray are powerful women they recall having impacted them in a specific way. Over the summer, Solano debuted Oronda at Berlin’s Open Forum which featured portraits of two of their aunts, Nicki Minaj, and Meryl Streep’s character from The Devil Wears Prada. The artist’s work challenges the patriarchal lens through which women are often viewed and features levels of depth into the women painted.
For over four decades, artist Joan Semmel has been depicting the human form through a feminist perspective. She began experiencing gender discrimination early in her career, leading her into the world of feminist politics. Semmel has used her paintings to examine realistic shapes of the body, challenging the normal objectification of female forms. Through her numerous series, she continuously captured a personal view of what raw vulnerability and the female experience means to her. At 86 years old, Semmel sees feminism becoming stronger than ever, with more representation and progressive actions to showcase women artists.
In the 1980s, Ann M. Martin was asked by Jean Feiwel to write a book series about babysitting– later known as The Baby-Sitters Club. The series was a success; Martin still receives letters to this day. At a recent panel at Smith College, women of all ages attended ranging from college students to 40-year-old women with their children. Even though the book series can be considered “feminist by design” as it addressed “taboo” topics during its time such as divorce, mental illness, and alcoholism as well as unique female friendship dynamics, Martin says that if re-written today amidst the #MeToo movement she, “might make the characters more active and involved, politically so. I think kids today are much more politically aware … That just wasn’t something that existed — not the way it does now — when I was writing the book back in the ’80s and ’90s.”
Freelance blogger Jenny Studenroth discussed her personal fears and tips on talking with her two young daughters about feminism. Emphasizing the love and joy she finds in her children, Studenroth also shares the added fear that unfortunately comes with having daughters in a patriarchal society. Giving young girls both the freedom to discuss their own experiences and the confidence to break out of gender norms are just a few of the ways that Studenroth highlights as useful in raising her own daughters. The struggle of bringing up children in the right way without pushing your own views on them too firmly is a difficulty that many parents can relate to, yet Studenroth’s candid article may offer some useful advice to those in need. The importance of making sure that future generations carry on the positive work of their parents cannot be underestimated; true improvement is often seen to come from younger generations, so this valuable bond between mothers and daughters is key for the future of feminism.
Eight communities from the Imo State in Nigeria came together for a discussion on violence against young women and girls in their areas, organized by the Development Dynamics (DD). All community leaders resolved to end female genital mutilation (FGM), the main topic of discussion. FGM is defined by the World Health Organization as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Any parent inflicting FGM on their child will now be punished according to Imo State Law. This move from community leaders will hopefully set a strong precedent for other members of the community and be an important step towards eradicating this form of violence against women.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to be conscious of your breast health. Breast cancer is an unfortunately common issue for millions of women across the world. Genetics and lifestyle choices are considered risk factors, and it’s recommended to get regular exams if you have a history of breast cancer in your family. In general, women should start getting regular breast exams when they turn 20, scheduling appointments every one to three years. As for older women, it’s recommended to get a check-up every year. Self-exams are also extremely important. Staying active, making conscious food choices, practicing self-care, and examining your breasts are small ways you can stay healthy and take care of your breast health.
Periods can say a lot about a person’s overall health. Dr. Joseph Chang of Parkland Health and Hospital system, and Dr. Michael Guarnaccia, reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility, warn against some symptoms that can be signs of bigger health problems. Irregular periods can be a sign of a thyroid issue, as the thyroid can cause hormonal imbalances that impact your menstrual cycle. Irregular periods are also a sign of being overly stressed, or having a hidden chronic illness, such as kidney issues or chronic infections. If your period is extremely painful, it could be telling you that you might be suffering from endometriosis, a condition that causes uterine cells to grow and shed out of your uterus. Finally, if you’re bleeding more heavily than usual, you might be iron deficient or having more serious uterus issues, such as fibroids, or polyps. Pay attention to what your period is telling you, and if you notice something unusual, consult your OB/GYN.
A unique eight-week course has been developed at Baduku Community College to teach men how to contribute to a gender-equal society. The course covers everything from interacting with women to supporting them in getting equal footing, as well as cooking, cleaning, and looking after children. These skills are almost always left to women in traditional Indian societies, so addressing this domestic inequality is a first step for women taking an equal place in their communities. Furthermore, in taking on stereotypically female roles, the first 13 participants were also encouraged to engage in urgent conversations about gender, especially in the wake of the Indian #MeToo movement. In future, the principal of the college, Murali Mohan Kati, wants to include women in the program, as they are conditioned by the patriarchal system they live in just as much as the men. While courses such as these may seem extreme to some, they are evidence of true desire for change and a targeted effort to create more equal communities.
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 10.5% of Latina adolescents aged 10–24 years in the U.S. have attempted suicide in the past year, compared to 7.3% of white females, 5.8% of Latinos, and 4.6% white male teens. A cultural upbringing that highly stigmatizes mental health issues, paired with generational divides between first-generation girls and immigrant parents, is believed to be part of the cause of this severe issue, according to Dr. Luis Zayas, a researcher on Latina suicide trends since 1991. Latinas have been historically vulnerable to mental health struggles, and only 20% of them actually talk to a doctor about their troubles. Factoring into this is the lack of diversity and cultural competence in the mental health workforce, which is predominantly white. Addressing cultural and societal stigmas can help improve these trends. Normalizing mental health struggles and focusing on suicide prevention is needed now more than ever for Latinas in the United States.
In uplifting news, Ethiopia’s prime minister declared that their ministry is now 50% female, meaning that half of the government is made up of female politicians. This is a drastic push for gender equality in their government, which has the second largest population in all of Africa. This push is due in large part to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has spent countless months making progressive action within the country. The new cabinet, also known as the Ministry of Peace, is included women for the first time in the country's history. Dubbed as one of the most important ministries in the country, this sudden push for gender parity could have significant effects on the country’s outtake on society.
In the upcoming midterm elections, there has been an enormous trend of female politicians running for office. Statistics show a drastic increase from 920 to 26,000 women who have shown interest in being candidates for office from 2016 to now. Although it may seem like a giant leap in women’s equality, it is still a long battle for equality. According to the Washington Post, “No state is even close to equal representation”. About a quarter of political positions in this country are held by women, but this statistics gets even smaller the higher up in political status that you go through. There are 1,977 women in governmental positions in this country, which means that our country would need to elect about 2,006 more to reach a definite equality. Despite our long road to actual progress, women have certainly made the necessary strides to make this a future possibility.
In an effort to reverse a piece of legislation passed in 1899 that places abortion as a criminal offense, Parliament is meeting to discuss this piece of legislation and possibly change it. For decades, activists have made it a priority to take out this piece from the law books and consistently failed to get their desired outcome, yet the upcoming hearing could spell a completely new outcome for history. In a turn of events, women will lead the debate as they’ve been able to acquire a large seating in Parliament. This female majority is something that has arisen after decades of diligent effort to give women a vote in Australia. The upcoming vote has arisen as an amazing opportunity, but some see it as a test to see whether women will be able to legislate issues that directly matter to them.
As only the third woman in history to receive a Nobel prize, Donna Strickland yearns for more woman, like herself, to earn the honor. Strickland’s initial reaction to finding out she was only the third woman in history to receive the award left her dumbfounded and sparked a conversation about women’s underrepresentation. She told Now Toronto that she did not put her gender into account when following her dreams and stuck to her work ethic and drive while doing rigorous research. According to the article, women are paving a path for young women in a number of fields but are not being acknowledged for their hard work and determination. The belief that older generations must mentor and guide more young women in their fields is important to Strickland and her work.
Research conducted by the Chicago Tribune shows that women in the workplace are experiencing increased discrimination and wage loss because of breastfeeding. Women have been speaking out about this issue due to the implementation of pods for women to breastfeed in and the accommodation of men’s discomfort over women’s comfort. NPR producer Alexis Diao states that there is an “intense pressure” to prove that women are working at the same level as they were before childbirth and breastfeeding. The “unforgiving culture” in the workplace causes a big increase in the wage gap for women bearing children. An incompatibility with breastfeeding and maternal responsibility is hindering women’s chances to succeed in the workplace after choosing to have a family. Past studies have shown that women who breastfed their children less or not at all experienced a smaller wage loss than those women who breastfed frequently.
Earlier this week, India took initiatives to promote workplace safety for women. Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a central issue in the country’s legislature, and officials are keen on mending this problem. The law states that a current female staff member in a senior executive position acts as an officer to the women in the office to provide a safe, consistent voice if need be. This officer is joined by a committee of women in the workplace who are committed to and passionate about keeping their co-workers safe. Any female employee is allowed to confide in the committee or officer about any uncomfortable behavior or harassment she may experience.
Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has founded an organization called Global Girls Alliance, which seeks to support the education of young women around the world. She made the announcement on The Today Show in honor of the International Day of the Girl. The initiative will offer training, networking opportunities, technical support, and financial aid for girls in need. In her announcement, she vocalized the long-term significance of female education: “When you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country.”
Room to Read, a global nonprofit that focuses on providing access to literacy programs and quality education for girls, held its annual benefit in honor of the International Day of the Girl. The event featured support from Room to Read board member and YouTube founder Susan Wojcicki, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki, and Internet entertainer Lilly Singh. Remarks from the three women highlighted the importance of mentorship and agency for young women, and they voiced their support for Room to Read’s commitment to female education. All funds raised from the evening will go towards Room to Read’s Education Program; the program currently works in eight Asian and African countries, with a goal of cultivating relevant life skills for young women as they complete secondary school and enter the working world.
Murals painted on a Dartmouth campus building in the 1930s depicting racist and sexist imagery will be removed and placed in off-site storage. The images were meant to portray the founding of Dartmouth College; they include four paintings that depict Dartmouth founder Eleazer Wheelock drinking with male Native Americans, as well as naked Native American women—one of whom is seen reading a book upside down. College President Phil Hanlon said, “The images portrayed in the Hovey Murals convey disturbing messages that are incompatible with Dartmouth’s mission and values. Moving them to off-campus storage is the right thing to do.” For the past seven years, viewing of the murals has been restricted to faculty and museum staff for teaching purposes.
Just a few decades ago, the women of South Sudan rarely saw themselves in ads for makeup or fashion, but thankfully that’s starting to change. Right now, from the runways in Paris to billboards in Times Square, South Sudanese women are ruling the fashion and beauty industries. Models like Duckie Thot, a South-Sudanese Australian model and new brand ambassador for L’Oréal Paris, and Nyma Tang, an influencer with almost one million subscribers, are using their platforms to bring representation to an industry that has historically excluded them. Not only are these models offering representation, they’re forcing makeup brands to reformulate their products with new pigmented products and richer shades that work for more diverse skin types.
In November 2017, Aaron Philip tweeted, “honestly when i get scouted…by a modeling agency it’s OVER for y’all!...it’s real inclusivity/diversity hours, folks.” Little did Philip, who was born with cerebral palsy, know that months later, in July 2018, she would make history as the first black, trans, disabled model to sign with Elite Model Management. But while she cites icons like Naomi Campbell as inspiration, most of Philip’s life looks less than glamorous: Her family was homeless just a few years ago, and she admits that her parents are still struggling to come to terms with her gender identity. Looking ahead, however, she is set on creating change for other marginalized people. In her own words, “I no longer feel isolated in these spaces, because I know that my presence is unique within itself, and if anyone were to be negative, that would simply be ableism.”
Several weeks after The Fashion Spot released its bi-annual report on runway diversity, its findings are still making headlines. This past week, Refinery29 reported that this year’s record-breaking stats drop significantly when New York is excluded from the data. Plus-size model castings, in particular, drop from 54% to 5% in London, Paris, and Milan. Not only that, but only three European brands—Nicholas Kirkwood, Alexander McQueen, and Dolce & Gabbana—were noted for making “any effort” towards body inclusion. According to French model Clémentine Desseaux, this lack of progress stems from European brands being "old, conservative, and very stuck in their ways.” Hopefully this tide starts to change soon, so greater plus-size visibility can be seen on both sides of the pond.
The biggest fashion news to hit the airwaves last week was the announcement that next year’s Met Gala theme will be “camp.” Titled “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” the exhibition will explore the role of campy style in the past and present— in the words of curator-in-charge Andrew Bolton, “Trump is a very camp figure—I think it’s very timely.” The gala itself, which is often referred to as “fashion prom,” is already set to be the most outrageously stylish event of 2019. With celebrity co-chairs Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Serena Williams on board, there’s no doubt fashion and pop culture lovers alike will be all but up in arms on that first Monday in May.
This week SZA spoke at Dove’s Girl Collective and opened up about her battle with having cystic acne throughout her life. She says that with fame came the acknowledgment that she had to learn to love parts of her appearance that made her self-conscious, or she would be ruined in the industry. She struggled with it for a long time before finally admitting that her breakouts were a result of living a high-stress life filled with nights where she doesn’t get around to washing her face or she doesn’t drink as much water as she should. Eventually, acceptance became integrated into her identity—she was still her, even with a giant cyst between the eyes. She says that she still has bad days, but refuses, overall, to let negative self-talk define her and tries to be authentic with her fans about her experiences with the same problems they deal with daily as well.
Prior to the 1960’s, a quick touch up of your lipstick made everyone around you assume a man had caught your eye and you wanted to look more enticing for him. Typical ads displayed lines like, “Stays on you...not on him,” or “That ‘natural’ look men look for.” It was a time where makeup was merely a tool to get a man—not the outlet for self-expression, creativity, or play that it has evolved into today. The first step towards the empowered view of makeup many have today was Revlon’s Fire & Ice ad in 1952. The ad featured a questionnaire that determined if you were naughty or nice; fire or ice. The questions were all centered on how there’s a bit of “fire” in every woman, and made her feel sexy and dangerous. With no man or romance alluded to, the ad was revolutionary in its suggestion that a woman might apply lipstick for her own pleasure and gratification.
The Los Angeles nonprofit organization, Women’s Center for Creative Work, is offering emergency healthcare grants to artists who identify as female, transgender, non binary, low income, or as a person of color. The purpose of the grant is to support artists who do not qualify for or cannot afford healthcare, but need coverage to continue working. One of the recipients, Kumi James, found herself suffering from muscle spasms that affected her employment. After receiving the grant, she was able to get acupuncture treatment, something that she was not covered for beforehand. With many other artists struggling like James, the grant proves that artists need full support in all aspects of their lives.
For the first time, a songwriting camp called SheWrites is taking place in Los Angeles after having visited London and Stockholm. SheWrites was founded by Violet Skies and Charlie McClean. In collaboration with Youtube, SheWrites brought together two dozen female “music makers” on October 4th-5th. The women split into smaller groups consisting of singers, producers, writers, and engineers; their goal was to work together to present a song at the end of the day. What the experiment showed was that the difference of having an all-female creative team was that they were “able to be more honest.”
Jenny Saville has just set a record for becoming the most expensive living female artist. Her painting, Propped (1992) was recently sold at auction for $12.4 million. Propped explores the female form through the female gaze, much like other works Saville has done. While this is monumental, it does not change the gender bias in the art world. The current record for living male artist is Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange) which sold for $58 million. While female artists are being appreciated more, these extreme differences prove that women artists are still not valued as highly as their male counterparts.