Friday 8th March is International Women’s Day (IWD). Celebrated around the world as a way of both marking the achievements of women and pushing for further progress and reform – politically, socially, economically and culturally – the 2019 campaign’s theme of #BalanceforBetter calls for a drive for gender balance across the world, supporting equality for all.
International Women’s Day gets us thinking about the many amazing females out there, campaigning for change, and flying the flag for women everywhere. It feels that women demanding to be heard has become more prolific in this last year, and so to mark International Women’s Day 2019, we asked our editorial team to tell us the women inspiring them this year.
Josie, Digital Editor – Anushka Moore and the MidsizeCollective
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You know you’ve started 2019 off right when you find the perfect pink house to pose in front of on a day you’re wearing your favourite jumper – both on the 1st of Jan, too! 💁🏻♀️✨😄🌸 #wegotthis #letsdothis #yass2019 #comeatme . . . . . #midsizestyle #averagegirlsize #2019 #newyear #excited #scarborough #visitbritain #myboohoostyle #asseenonme #NorthYorkshire #photosofbritain #photosofengland #visitengland #yorkshire #northeast #manchesterblogger #minibreak #minication
Creator of the @MidSize Collective on Instagram, Anushka Moore continues to be a driving force for body positivity in its most normalised, everyday form. As a ‘midsize’ female, I was tired of shopping online and only seeing one of two sizes represented – size 6-8 with very little in the way of hips or boobs, or, size 18+, with plenty of curves – boobs, hips and all. Both beautiful, both great to see – but I never saw the fashion I wanted to buy on someone that was close to my size, and might represent how that particular piece of clothing might look on me. Until I found the MidSize Collective – a curation of all sizes in the middle, of women of all shapes and sizes, but mostly importantly, women of my size, that I can directly relate to. The main problem with seeing only one size (or race, age bracket, the list goes on) is that it makes you feel abnormal – in this case, like you are the ‘wrong’ size.
Anushka Moore and the MidSize Collective is promoting an accessible, everyday space where all sizes are usual, which in turn lessens that outside pressure that’s on all of us, in one small but by no means insignificant way. Anushka’s vision and the community she has built can only grow, and only for good, and she continues to inspire me and her 20K+ followers. Anushka says “Learn to love and accept yourself. There is nothing to be gained from hating on your body. Anybody who doesn’t love it for exactly the way it is, lumps and bumps and all, isn’t worth it.”
Jess, Digital Writer – Gina Martin, Activist
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Today I trotted into the House of Lords to chat about forcing progress and being an outsider to Parliament inside Parliament. 🎩 One lovely lady asked me a question about how I felt working here being someone with no political or legal experience and what they could do to make it better. I spoke about the fact that because of a lack of diversity this place is somewhere so many of us feel we're not supposed to be and that making it a priority to hire people with different backgrounds and different experiences changes things – I mean, how can we expect people to push be involved with politics if the system doesn't recognise them as a valid part of it as it is? 🤷 The truth is, I do feel out of my depth a lot of the time, but I'm working on it so that others can feel invited to the table too. I accept that imposter syndrome is normal for the work I'm doing, and of course, it doesn't stop me being myself because what would be counterintuitive. 👯 That's why I headed into Parliament wearing my bright colours, a goofy smile and my heart on my sleeve as well as my @florencegiven 'Women Don't Owe You Pretty' shirt, because that's a sentiment that shouldn't only be reserved for drinks with your girlfriend's at a bar, but for E V E R Y O N E ✋❤️
After experiencing upskirting (someone taking a non-consensual sexual photo in a public place) at a music festival, and reporting the incident to the police, Gina found out that it was not a criminal offence punishable by law. She decided to take matters into her own hands and campaign to have upskirting criminalised. Through social media and cross-parliamentary support from MPs, she spread awareness of how common this horrific action is, with a goal to help women feel safer when going about their daily lives, regardless of the clothes they wear. Gina experienced trolling and abuse media in response to her campaign, but she never gave up and in January 2019 new legislation was passed to make upskirting an offense, punishable by up to two years in prison. As a young woman with no previous political experience, she’s proof you can affect change in society without being part of the judicial or political system – you just have to have passion and conviction.
Kate, Content Producer – Jameela Jamil and the ‘I Weigh’ campaign
I’m picking Jameela Jamil as my stand out inspiring woman for 2019! She’s a truly ballsy and inspiring individual who is not afraid to rise up against impossible beauty standards. She has called out celebrities that back diet teas and lollipops; brands that promote irresponsible and unattainable ideas of what beauty is, backed a ban on airbrushing in the media and started the much needed @i_weigh Instagram account and movement.
Jameela set up the i_weigh account after seeing an Instagram image of the Kardashian/Jenner women with each individual’s weight displayed across it, and then posted a photo of her with her achievements, values and the things she is proud of in her life that make her up as a person, along with the hashtags “#iweigh and #fuckingKG written across it. She then encouraged others to do the same, and the account now has over a million followers.
None of her pictures are airbrushed, she isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, hold her hands up when she might have been wrong about something, and proudly shows off her stretch marks. She’s inspired me by sharing her story and campaigning to help empower women through self acceptance, whatever their weight, race, age or class.
Jameela and the i_weigh campaign has influenced me to focus on the positives about myself, not just the negatives (that are so easy to concentrate on). She’s encouraged me and many others to keep in my mind that I am not defined only by what I look like and weigh.
Lesley, Digital Writer – Sasha Louise Pallari and the #BestYou campaign
I discovered Sasha about a year ago on Instagram (@sashalouisepallari). An international make-up artist with an incredible portfolio, it was her beautiful bridal looks that initially caught my eye, but it was her #BestYou campaign that left me feeling the most inspired. Despite being capable of creating the most flawless, Insta-perfect beauty, Sasha is a true believer in embracing your imperfections. Her mantra of “who you are is always worth more than what you look like” really struck a chord with me, and I love how honest and open her social media posts are. She thinks nothing of taking to Instagram Stories with a totally bare face and chatting about pre-menstrual breakouts, all while recommending fabulous skincare and make-up, should you wish to try it. She encourages her followers to believe in their own natural beauty and use make-up to “magnify the beauty that already exists”.
Self-love isn’t just having a moment, it’s a movement, and because of inspiring women like Sasha, I feel a little more ready every day to accept that simply being me is enough.
Cat, Video Producer – Tarana Burke and the #MeToo movement
In late 2017, a wave of high profile women came forward with their accounts of sexual assault by the same individual, sparking a global conversation about abuse, harassment and respect. The #MeToo hashtag seemed to stamp itself into significance overnight, with over 12 million uses, empowering survivors of abuse to shed light on their experiences, and forcing both individuals and corporations to stare into the face of the problems, and identify the perpetrators that had been lurking in the shadows of our society. It’s easy to presume that #MeToo was a reactive, spur of the moment success like many of today’s viral moments. Many people are unaware of the twelve years of work, passion and grind that founder Tarana Burke has put into the #MeToo movement prior to the dethroning of Harvey Weinstein.
The women’s activist created the #MeToo movement to support survivors – particularly young women of colour – of sexual violence. Tarana’s selfless commitment to healing, empowering and eventually ending sexual violence is incontestably valuable and inspirational to the whole of humankind. Tarana Burke has dedicated years of her life to a heart-breakingly necessary and important cause without the desire of recognition, praise or publicity, and continues to work harder than ever to ensure #MeToo has the same authenticity today as it had as an initial idea. Her work ethic, care, empathy, selflessness, bravery and vigour are qualities that inspire me to strive to be a better person every day.
Amirah, Social Media Assistant – Mindy Kaling
A woman who I admire is Mindy Kaling. Not only is she a successful author, writer, producer, actor and mum, she also is a big believer in herself and pushing boundaries in the TV and film industry. Seeing someone who is Indian like me play fierce characters on TV and goes against the norm of what is expected is really powerful! On her show The Mindy Project, she played a doctor, and she wasn’t afraid of being herself and sharing her culture and beliefs – something I would love to do more of!