Questions other than “Am I bikini body ready?” to ask yourself this summer

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by Zainab Boladale

As women, we are expected to have body confidence issues and while it is true that a lot of us do, what about those of us who actually don’t? Why are we being told that we should? It’s obvious that we are perceived as “the weaker fragile sex” by society and are expected to strive for perfection. It seems that society cares about us so much that there will always be someone ready to point out our supposed “problem areas”. The number one offender being, that’s right you’ve guessed it, the media with their “oh so brilliant” strategic marketing. What I mean by this is that in the last few years, companies targeting female customers are using different techniques to sell us their products. Rather than selling the product for what it does, they are selling it as a product that will actually help us improve our problem areas by pointing out that it should be a problem area. These adverts subtly instil the feeling of body shame when in fact there should be no reason to feel ashamed about what your body naturally does or looks like. I get really annoyed when I see adverts that display a healthy size 16 woman going to a size 8, despite the fact that she was perfectly fine at her initial size. Or the recent “Are you beach body ready?” advert by protein world that suggest that all our bodies should look like the woman in the poster, otherwise it shouldn’t be shown.

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As for women who actually show or feel confident in their bodies, we are quickly branded as “vain”or “stuck up bitches”. Personally, I 90% feel confident in my body. Of course, there are days where I criticise certain aspect of my body, like my far from iron flat stomach or my kit kat bar chunky thighs but there are days, weeks, months even where I can appreciate that all of these things add to my unique shape and I have no desire to lose an insane amount of weight or volunteer my body for the hunger games just because I don’t look like a Victoria Secrets model. If anything, i’m happy looking like I know all of Betty Crocker’s secret recipes. Body love is something that every woman needs and it genuinely makes me mad that magazines and adverts target our insecurities not because they care about our “health” or want to make us love our bodies more than we already do. There are so many natural, unique and beautiful body shapes in the world so it’s crazy to think that there is one standardized perception of what is considered beautiful. Being aware of two cultural ideas of beauty, Africans seeing perfection in a rounder woman, and Europeans seeing beauty in a slender women, has made me realise that no matter how you look you will always be judged. Body love is an important thing and I think as long as you love your body and know how to work all your best features, then what anyone else thinks shouldn’t matter. So girls, this summer instead of asking ourselves “Am I bikini body ready?” ask yourselves “Is that bikini ready for your body?”.

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The Dress Debate: What happened when girls were kicked out of prom for what they were wearing

by Rebecca Lumley

The prom, or debs/grad here in Ireland, is a rite of passage for school leavers and generally a lively topic of conversation for months in advance. Whether you’ve been dreaming of the dress you’d wear since first year (guilty) or just looking forward to a night out with your friends, it’s a big social occasion and something to look forward to amongst the stress of exams.

However, 2015 has seen a number of young ladies turned away from their prom because of what they were wearing. The last night of fun with their classmates was ripped away from these girls, all because the dresses they had chosen were deemed “too revealing”. When the cases were challenged by the students and parents affected, the schools refused to discuss the matter. You might be surprised by the offending dresses in  question.

Case 1: Mireya Briceno

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This gorgeous Michegan 18 year old was sent home after just one hour from her prom because the backless dress she wore was “inappropriate”. The school’s dress code stated that dresses showing skin “around the midriff” were forbidden, but had no such rule concerning backless dresses.The school principal, Brad Perkins, originally defended the decision but is now saying the dress code will be “reviewed” in the Autumn. Probably because of the internet storm the decision has caused.

Case 2: Alexus Miller-Wigfall

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This Pennsylvania teen wasn’t turned away from her actual prom, but issued a day’s school suspension after the event. This came as a complete shock to Alexus and her mother, who believes the targeting is weight related. The school’s dress code requires that “all body parts are covered”, including breasts. Alexus’ mother maintains that as Alexus has bigger boobs than several other students, she was punished over girls who were wearing more revealing clothing. To add insult to injury, her mother had emailed several photos of the dress to the school for their approval prior to the prom. “I don’t see anything wrong with that dress. What do they want her to wear, a turtleneck?” her mother said.

Case 3: Shelton High School

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This is perhaps the worst case of all as dozens of students have been affected and not just a few select individuals. Shelton High, a school in Connecticut, created an extensive list of dress code violations and have warned students that breaking the rules will see you denied entry from prom. The problem? They announced these rules a mere eight days before the event was set to take place. This late change in policy has naturally caused a wave of distress amongst students and parents, with many finding their pricey and often non-returnable dresses in violation. Above are two of the dresses rejected by the school. Determined to fight the unfair regulations, the students launched a petition that has gone viral in the last few days. They point out that:

“It takes a long time to pick out a dress or have one custom made, even longer for any necessary alterations to be made; it is unfair to release the dress guidelines eight days before the dance and expect every person to have a dress that follows them.”

The students also articulately  tackled the wider issue of double standards in the school.

“There is a sexist and backwards logic that girls must cover up so that boys are not distracted or tempted to behave inappropriately. If a girl wears a pair of shorts and a boy takes that as an invitation to touch her, who really needs to be told to control themselves? Don’t teach girls to hide their bodies; teach boys self control and that they aren’t entitled to a girl’s body just because she dressed in a way that made her feel beautiful or just didn’t want to get overheated.”

“There is no reason why the boys at Mr. Student Body should have been allowed to parade around the stage in nothing but their boxers but a girl can’t wear a backless dress to prom. This selective enforcement of school dress code is unacceptable.”

Read the full petition here.

The issue that the students of Shelton High so brilliantly address here is the crux of all of the prom debacles we’ve seen.

While prom is a school event and the school are entitled to ask for decent dress, the instances we have seen have gone too far. Is an exposed back really so “inappropriate” when women wear backless gowns getting married every day? Is a 1cm sliver of midriff really so offensive? Are people unaware of the fact that girls have boobs and are therefore startled when they see them in a v-neck dress? Is it reasonable to demand that ALL BODY PARTS be covered, as in the case of Alexus’ high school?

The idea these cases perpetuate is that it is unacceptable for women to show their bodies. These rules tell girls that it is their responsibility to cover up so boys aren’t distracted in class. They say girls should dress a certain way to avoid wolf whistles on the street or leering gazes in a nightclub. They tell people that there is something wrong with exposing skin. They place the blame on women for the way men react to womens’ bodies.

This often unrecognized attitude is an important mark of inequality in modern society. It shows society is still placing the blame on women for sexual harassment and even sexual assault because the inherrent attitude that women should cover up still exists. Is it fair for teenage girls to be banned from wearing sleeveless tops and shorts in school so the boys “aren’t distracted”? Is it fair that police still ask a woman what she was wearing in a case of sexual assault? Is it fair that girls were denied their prom because of the archaic idea that it is women’s duty to cover their skin?

The school administrations that are enforcing unfair rules clearly need to shift their focus. It is not the fault of the boys in a school, or men in general that such policies are being enforced but it is the fault of the policy makers. Instead of turning girls away from prom, maybe they should be teaching students that bare skin is never an invitation, that the female form is neither something to be feared nor overtly sexualised.

Take the blame off women as a whole for the actions of a few select men who believe certain clothes grant them entitlements. This is a minority mindset and one that must be done away with through education. As these girls have realised, this is about much more than missing out on prom.

Five Famous Feminists

by Bronwyn O’Neill

At the Ink Ladies, we love being feminists. Even though International Women’s day was on Sunday, is there any reason we can’t have any more girl love. So, I thought about some famous ladies who are really paving the way for women everywhere (even if you don’t think they are the stereotypical feminists).

Beyoncé

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Of course, Beyoncé makes the list. We had a whole article about her and why she is an amazing feminist. Not only does she donate to charity and stand up for equality, she also shows us that feminism can be sexy.

Emma Watson

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Miss Watson has been an inspiration for me since I first saw her in Harry Potter back in 2001. Therefore, she has always been a role model for me. When she stood up at the UN and spoke about feminism I was in awe. Finally someone that everyone will listen to. No one would call her stupid or a slut. However, she was soon a victim of hate. Why? Simply because people have no idea what feminism is. Emma is an amazing role model and face of feminism for young girls.

Taylor Swift

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Although, a newly fledged feminist, Taylor deserves to make this list. She realised she was wrong in her views of what a feminist is and is now out there spreading the word. Taylor suffers a lot of injustice due to the fact she sings about heartbreak. A pure example of this was during an acceptance speech where she thanked her exes that made her album a possibility. She, of course, received hate for this. However when Sam Smith said the same thing at the Grammys, he received a positive reaction. Taylor has also stopped dating so the media cannot make anything out of her “relationships.” This highlights why we need feminism.

Nicki Minaj

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Yes! Nicki Minaj makes this list. The amount of wisdom that comes out of this woman’s mouth is astounding. She may not be your “average feminist”. However if she wants equal rights, if she supports young girls and respects herself then hell yes she’s a feminist. Although, she may flaunt her sexuality in videos, that doesn’t mean she’s any less of a feminist. If a man did it then no one would bat an eyelash.

“I’m fighting for the girls who never thought they could win.” – Nicki Minaj.

Mindy Kaling

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An incredibly successful woman, with her own show “The Mindy Project”, she reminds everyone that successful women aren’t always cookie cutter shapes. She is honestly such an inspiration to all girls who don’t feel like people will respect them. Who cares if you’re not a tiny stick figure girl? Her sitcom was the first to have the focus on an Indian-American female and her self deprecating jokes and coffee- fuelled charm have made it a major success. She also wrote for The US Office.

So there you have it, five women who set great societal examples in their individual ways.

Body Image- Not A Gender Specific Subject

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by Rebecca Lumley

The modern world is a polarized place. For the past few years, ideas concerning body image have been changing rapidly and the spectrum of what is beautiful and what is desirable has broadened exponentially. On the one hand, there’s the fashion industry, who still tell us that tall, skinny models possess the ideal bodies. On the other, there’s the wave of protein fuelled, Instagram- loving gym bunnies who want muscles of steel. On the third hand (because you’re an octopus), we have the plus size bloggers campaigning for body acceptance, an end to fat shaming and for less weight related discrimination.

Those are just a few examples from the Western World.

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I say the world is polarized because never before has there been such an impassioned universal debate on what beauty is or such an emphasis on acceptance- no matter what size or shape you are. It was 2015 when Tess Holiday, at a size 22, became the world’s largest and most praised plus size model. It was 2015 when her hashtag #effyourbeautystandards, got the internet talking about self acceptance and diversity. This year, brands like Dove and No.7 are using “real women” in their beauty campaigns.  This year is when the spectrum continues to broaden and in doing so, creates a more tolerant, less image conscious world.

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There’s only one problem- all this is aimed at women.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and like women all over the world, I loved the chance to celebrate feminism and verbalise the importance of gender equality. I was, however, struck by an inequality I hadn’t even noticed until recently- that men are under as much pressure as women to conform to a certain image, an issue not given any importance or recognition in society.

Dubbed the “Geordie Shore effect” by the Irish Independent last week, this year has seen a massive increase in the number of men joining gyms and taking supplements in hopes of attaining a thick, muscular physique. The popularity of this look has grown massively in recent times and men are going further and further to achieve it, turning to protein powder, weight gain supplements and impossibly heavy weights. Size, not fitness, is everything.

Talking to the Independent, a Cork native by the name of Mark describes his motivations.

“Myself I wanted to be big beyond belief. I wanted to be that man, the one that people look at and go ‘Jesus, he’s something else’.”    

According to the ESRI, almost half of gym users in the country are men, a massive increase from six years ago when it was just a quarter. This trend is undoubtedly impacted by the media glorification of the muscular male.

“Guys are looking for approval from others. They are comparing themselves to other athletes and actors because they desperately want to fit into one of the categories that we now identified as manly, attractive, or ideal,” Mark says.

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What I find unequal about this turn of events is not the actual pressure being placed on men (because all humans are subjected to a myriad of pressures from external sources every day) – but the societal intolerance when it comes to men’s ability to talk about such issues.

“You don’t see guys post on Facebook complaining about how fat they look or how they don’t match up with the Hollywood movie star image,” Mark says.

“You don’t see this because, men still can’t talk openly about their insecurities because when you do so, you get told to ‘man up. I’ve been there myself and seen it, there are quite a few men out there who are suffering in silence.”

These double standards applied to dialogue concerning body image are having real effects on men all over the world and need to be changed.

Since humans first roamed the earth, men were the hunters and women the gatherers. Men have been typecast since the dawn of time as providers, biologically stronger and taller and expected to protect their families. Because of the leadership role nature placed upon them, an expectation has grown that men should not be emotional, should have a thick skin and should be “strong” in all situations. Luckily, we’re not in the Stone Age anymore and women can now fend for themselves. We have slowly raised ourselves from the gatherers to the hunters of our own lives. We are re-defining gender roles and though there’s still a lot to do, it’s happening.

If women are allowed to re-define gender roles- why not men?

As we strive for equality, we must recognize the oppression that men face in certain areas of their lives and strive to eradicate that. We must treat men like they have feelings and allow them to express them without the fear of judgement. We must realize that as body image in the media can affect women, it can also affect men. We must realize that men have the capacity to hate what they see in the mirror just as women do.

Equality means equality.

Eating disorders in men have increased by 25% since 2000. The average age for a man with an eating disorder is 24. Whether concerned with bulking up or slimming down, men feel the same pressures women do.

As Emma Watson pointed out in her UN speech, feminism does not concern only women- it is a male issue too. Only when we are truly equal will women and men have equal freedom, respect and rights. That includes the freedom for men to be able to talk about their insecurities, their fears and their ambitions as freely as women do.

Negative body image is not a gender- specific problem and the emphasis placed on physical perfection in the media doesn’t only affect women.

Equality means equality.

The Book Club: Girl Power

by Keava O’Loan

2014 was hailed by many as the ‘the year of feminism’. With The Guardian listing its most inspiring young females, Huffington Post rhyming off the reasons why it was a great year for feminism, The Telegraph explaining how pop culture made the ‘F-word’ cool, and Buzzfeed chipping in with their countdown of ‘22 Powerful Moments That Made You Proud to Be a Feminist in 2014’, there’s certainly no shortage of articles you can read to reminisce about the feminist highlights of last year. However, with many still on the fence (or even worse, completely in the dark) about what it means to be a feminist, we here at The Ink Ladies thought it was time to do some research. If, like us, you are completely swamped by your module reading lists, fear not! To save you the hassle of reading everything from the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of ‘feminism’ to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (although both are recommended reads), we rounded up some of our favourite feminist books. Not only do these texts make feminism funny, relatable and accessible, we guarantee that whether you’re male or female, they’ll open your eyes to what it means to be a woman in today’s society.

‘How to Be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran

Moran, a writer and broadcaster, is known by many as a media personality – one of those people who is prolific on Twitter, regularly appears on panel shows, and shares her opinions with the nation in her column at The Times. ‘How to Be a Woman’ charts her journey from girl to woman, starting on her thirteenth birthday. Covering topics such as puberty, porn, motherhood, abortion, strip clubs, and many more, Moran’s witty, friendly voice makes potentially heavy subject matter easy reading.

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”

‘The Vagenda’  by Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

As students, Baxter and Cosslett spent a lot of money on women’s magazines, and a lot of time laughing at articles entitled things like ‘50 Sex Tips to Please Your Man’, ‘Get That Beach Body FAST!’, and ‘Preparing For Your First Vajazzle’. When they stopped laughing, they started to feel uneasy. They launched a blog named The Vagenda, which aimed to shine a critical light on women’s media; exposing the ludicrous, manipulative, and often damaging ulterior motives at play. Their book of the same title tackles these same issues, with chapters such as ‘Body Politics’, ‘Sex in Magazineland’, and ‘Let Us Eat Cake’. Essentially, it cuts through the media bullshit you’ve been fed since you picked up your first copy of Mizz.

“If Page Three is the sexist builder hollering at you in the street, then Grazia and Cosmo are the frenemies who smile to your face and bitch behind your back. It worried us that women such as us, reared on a diet beginning with problem-page questions about tampons in Bliss magazine and graduating on to Company, weren’t being offered any of the necessary tools to deal with increasingly sinister content. There comes a certain point (probably around the time that you’ve picked up your tenth issue of Cosmopolitan) when your brain is encased in such a large volume of fluffy bullshit that you switch off and start thinking, ‘My elbows are fat.’”

‘Bad Feminist’ by Roxanne Gay

Roxanne Gay’s book charts her conflicting views on what it’s like to move through the modern world as a woman. She blasts rap music as she drives to work every morning, even though she finds the lyrics deeply offensive. She loves anything pink, although for a while she pretended her favourite colour was black – it just seemed cooler. She reads Vogue, and not in an ironic way. She occasionally fakes her orgasms, even though she is certain the sisterhood wouldn’t approve. She is not entirely sure who the sisterhood are.

“The more I write, the more I put myself out into the world as a bad feminist but, I hope, a good woman… Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman. I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

‘Bossypants’  by Tina Fey

Whether you know her from SNL, 30 Rock, or Mean Girls, you know Tina Fey. Fey’s book is similar in style to Moran’s ‘How to Be a Woman’, recounting her development from girl to woman. Although not as explicitly feminist as the other books listed, every topic discussed is shaped by the theme of female empowerment. Just the fact that it’s the story of a female achieving insane levels of success in a predominantly-male dominated industry makes this a very inspiring, necessary read, in our minds. Included are anecdotes about her first trip to the gynaecologist (where she passed out), starting out as a female comedian, and what she has learned from reading fairy tales to her daughter.

“I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

Dig into one of these books (or all of them!) and get involved. Whether it’s something as simple as joining the #AllWomen or #HeForShe Twitter campaigns, or doing something big to show your support for this year’s International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, every act of support counts. Feminism has come a long way since Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragette movement, but there is still a long way to go. We’re almost a quarter of the way through 2015 – let’s make sure this year is even more empowering, progressive, and feminist than the last.

The F Word

by Bronwyn O’Neill

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When most people hear the word feminist they cringe in fear. They picture a towering tall, masculine, unshaved woman. However I’m here to destroy that stereotype. I’m a tiny, blonde female who enjoys wearing dresses and jamming to Taylor Swift. And I am a feminist! I most certainly do not hate men. We need to destroy the idea of “feminazis”.

So firstly let’s discuss what feminism is. The definition of feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Yes, equality. The whole idea wishes for men and women to be equal. Therefore, as a feminist, I don’t just preach about women’s rights, I also am a firm believer in promoting men’s rights.

I do not hate men!!! I do not know how many times I had to explain that feminists do not hate men. Quite the opposite really. If you’re asking what male rights are, that is a fair question. Feminists fight for men to be able to speak out about rape and abolish the concept that men cannot get raped. It is one of the more difficult topics that we deal with. However it must be said.

So, are you getting a better idea of what feminists are?

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Another concept that gets to me is the idea that only certain women can be feminists. False! This is a serious problem, even within the feminist community. Just because you are feminine does not mean you are not a feminist.

Why do we hate on females you enjoy wine and fruity drinks? Who like singing Taylor Swift into a hairbrush? Girls who like to wear leggings and Uggs? Honestly, I am guilty of all of these. Does that make me any less of a feminist?

Do you have to do a certain test to get into feminism? I don’t think so. Being girly does not make you any less qualified to be a feminist. It shouldn’t matter if you are “slutty” or a “prude”. If you believe in equal rights for the sexes then you are indeed a feminist. This may be a shock for some of you.

Being a feminist does not mean you have to give up your femininity. In my opinion, it means you should embrace it more. Trust me, I will get equality wearing red lipstick and sipping a vodka and coke, whilst walking over the old ideas in killer heels.

Also, we cannot forget- men can be feminists too. What??? Yes, dear reader. You do not have to possess a vagina to want equality. I know several male feminists, and a dozen more who have no idea they are feminists.

Please stop the hatred of feminism. Please become more informed on the topic before deciding you are not one. We are not a man hating cult, I swear.

Equality for all.

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The Women Who Won 2015

by Rebecca Lumley

Though the Oscars may be over, the red carpets haven’t been rolled up and stored just yet. While the traditional awards ceremonies we see every year (Golden Globes, Emmys, Oscars) focus on a very specific section of society and a focused range of talents, magazine awards have somewhat broader horizons. Yesterday saw the release of Grazia’s “Most Inspirational Women 2015” and the announcement of the Elle Style Award winners. These awards seek to celebrate the talents and efforts of women from a range of careers in the public view, such as music, fashion, entertainment, sport and even political activism. Here are some of the women that won at life during 2014 and continue to do so into ’15.

Grazia; Most Influential Women 2015

Grazia chose a variety of women for their list with one central idea; they wanted to celebrate women who “inspire, empower and game change” in society. Now those are traits worthy of an award.

Most influential woman in FASHION- Victoria Beckham

Once known as Posh spice and now a phenomenally successful fashion designer, Victoria is no typical WAG and certainly isn’t afraid of hard work. Far from slapping her name onto a clothing line she had nothing to do with, Victoria is a hands on designer who is the true creative influence behind the designs her label churns out. She originally launched her brand in 2008 and was named “Brand of the Year” in the UK in 2011.

Victoria is a great example of someone who could have done a lot less. She could have rested on her former pop career and famous husband but she chose to pursue her passions and work incredibly hard to prove herself in one of the most critical industries there is.

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Most influential woman in ENTERTAINMENT- Emma Watson

The past year has been huge for Emma Watson. The former witch, Brown graduate and now UN Goodwill ambassador has been making great strides for women with her efforts to highlight the importance of feminism. The HeForShe gender equality campaign went viral after her eloquent UN speech, earning the actress serious respect from people everywhere. In an era marked by celebrity derailment, Watson has emerged as an intelligent, insightful and influential young woman. (Ps. I wish the rumours about her and Prince Harry were true, she would be the coolest princess ever).

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Most influential woman in CULTURE- Lena Dunham

You may know Lena Dunham as the sassy, self involved protagonist of the tv show “Girls” or as the author of the book “Not That Kind of Girl”. If you don’t know her at all, you should get to know her because she’s really cool. At just 28 she can list director, producer, actor, screenwriter and author on her CV and it’s undeniable that her kooky sense of humour, free spirited disregard of social norms and feminist ideals have made an impact on pop culture. In the pilot episode of Girls, her character, Hannah, called herself “the voice of a generation”, which, coincidentally, is exactly what Dunham has become.

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Most influential woman in POLITICS: Malala Yousafzai

This probably wasn’t the biggest award Malala’s won recently (she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize after all). The young woman’s story is famous around the globe and her poise, bravery and dedication to change is an inspiration to people everywhere. In her own words, “I speak not for myself, but for those without a voice”.

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Having seen the highlights from the Grazia awards, we look briefly at the worthy winners at the Elle Style Awards.

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Woman of the Year- Taylor Swift

Also known as “T-Swift”, “T-Swizzle” or “T-dog” (these are actually just what I call her). Terrible nicknames aside, it’s been a great year for the superstar, what with the successful launch of her pop career and brand new album, 1989. Swift has come a long way from her curly haired country music days and is only growing in chart popularity. Her kindness and humour have endeared her  to a harsh public and her ability to “stay grounded” (excuse the cliché) has set her apart from scores of other pop stars. My opinion: T-swift probably won’t be going out off style for the foreseeable future.

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Other winners: 

Model of the Year: Rosie Huntington Whitely

Breakthrough Actress: Cara Delevigne

Rising Star: Rebel Wilson

So now you have it, the top women who won at life this year. Let’s let the diligence, dedication and creativity they encompass inspire us in our own quests for self-improvement or self-fulfillment in 2015.

10 Better Female Role Models Than Ana Steele

By Bronwyn O’Neill

After subjecting myself to a torturous viewing of Fifty Shades of Bleh, I felt an overwhelming surge of anger. Not at the terrible plot, chemistry or “romance”, I was outraged at the fact that Anastasia Steele is the most unappealing, anti-feminist character I have come across. So how about we count down the top ten strong females on the big and small screen. I think this would make up for the appalling female characters in that film.

  1. Black Widow – The Avengers

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First up we have secret spy and all around badass lady, Natasha Romanoff. Under the alias of Black Widow, she’s pretty awesome. Showing us she can fight with the big boys and even be better.  She’s just all around great.

  1. Amy Elliott-Dunne – Gone Girl

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“Why is Amy Elliott-Dunne on this list,” you cry incredulously at me as you stare slack jawed at your computer screen. Simple. If you have read/seen Gone Girl you know how crazy this woman is. Do you think she would listen to Christian Grey for two minutes? Not a chance. She’s not going to be anyone’s “cool girl”. She may be crazy, but she does stand up for herself.

  1. Amy Pond – Doctor Who

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I have heard a lot of criticism of Amy Pond over the years. Possibly because she wears short skirts or maybe because she had a schoolgirl crush on the Doctor. Either way, you’re wrong! Amy Pond reminds us you don’t have to be ice cold to be a feminist. You can cry and wear dresses, whilst managing to be a strong female character.

  1. Michonne – The Walking Dead

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Following on from that, Michonne is the complete opposite. However this could be mainly due to the fact she is pushed into being hard and closed off. It is a zombie apocalypse after all! She can take on any Walker or human. A serious role model for all women out there.

  1. Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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A high school cheerleader who cares about her appearance but also manages to slay vampires in her spare time? Yes please. Although Buffy ended in the early 2000s, the character still endears, once again showing that you can wear pink and still kick ass.

  1. Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

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If you simply watch the films you only receive the smallest glimmer of what Katniss is capable of. Not to say Jennifer Lawrence isn’t flawless, but books always outshine the movie. The sixteen year old manages to overcome serious dangers, mostly death and by doing so, shows that girls can be incredibly resilient. Everyone knows that females are more loyal and protective. Fact.

  1. Lagertha – Vikings

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Back in the day before the patriarchy took over, women had almost equal rights. Here is a prime example, where we see Lagertha fight alongside men as a shieldmaiden. Not only is she a fierce warrior, but she is an incredible mother and supportive wife. She is basically an all-rounder. Once again highlighting the point that women are not so two-dimensional.

  1. Eowyn – Lord of the Rings

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Eowyn is by far my favourite character in Lord of the Rings. Although she is rejected by the man she longs for, she moves on. She doesn’t mope and dwell on it. Instead she pretty much saves the day. “I am no man!” The best line in the trilogy, it pretty much gives me goosebumps every time I watch that scene.

  1. Daenerys Targaryen – Game of Thrones

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Dany has been through a lot over the past four seasons and even more in the books. She loses people she loves, however she strives onwards to claim her rightful place on the throne. In doing so she saves thousands of people and is seen as a liberator. In the male centred world of Westeros, Dany is one of the few females who does not have to use her femininity and sexuality to get her way. If she doesn’t win the Iron Throne by the end I will cry.

  1. Hermione Granger – Harry Potter

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Most of us grew up with Harry Potter, be it the books or the films. Hermione was an integral part of my childhood and an amazing role model for me. She incorporates brains, strength and courage. Unlike a few of the females on this list she does not use physical strength to get her way. However she is still leaps ahead of the boys. Honestly, without her Ron and Harry would probably be dead.

This list hopefully shows a better range of female characters rather than Ana Steele or heaven forbid, Bella Swan. Altogether I feel this list shows us women are not defined by beauty or the men they get with. Women aren’t just two dimensional characters to survive as the man’s love interest, heart breaker, or to simply sit in the background and look pretty. It’s 2015 girls, let’s represent.