Inspiring Women Of 2017

2017 was the year of the woman. 2017 was the year women spoke out, it was the year women succeeded, it was the year women got angry, it was the year women were in control and it was the year women stared the very things in the eyes which intended to frighten them and said, "I'm not scared of you."
I live my life in constant admiration of the women of the world. I wake up each morning feeling blessed to be living a life brimming with empowering female role models and I thank them for the inspiration, determination and strength they, and those before them, have given me.
In this blog post, I shall talk you through just a handful of women who were inspirational figures in my own life this year, for a variety of reasons. I urge you all to look to them in times of difficulty and to applaud them for the beacons of hope which they deserve to be recognised as.

Munroe Bergdorf
Everything was going swimmingly for Munroe Bergdorf earlier this year as the model, DJ and activist was employed as the first transgender model to front a L'Oreal campaign in the UK. Shortly after she was announced as the face of one of the True Match foundation shades, however, L'Oreal sacked her, thanks to the Daily Mail digging up a Facebook post she had written in response to the Charlottesville white supremacist rally. The site took her words out of context to paint her as a monster who believes "all white people are racist," which cost her her job. It was truly a case of hired on the Monday, fired by Friday. What the Daily Mail and L'Oreal failed to see, however, was the actual meaning behind Munroe's words. They failed to recognise that she was speaking out about her own oppression, they failed to support her as a black woman who experiences racial violence every day and they failed to admit the cold hard fact that society is build to benefit white people and racism is so ingrained into it. Watching these events unfold broke my heart and I honestly believe the same attention would not have been given to this issue if it involved a cis, white woman. The Daily Mail's moves were callous and calculated. This only led to Munroe suffering more abuse, however, it was what she did with that abuse which puts her in my Women of 2017 list. Instead of letting it hold her back, she used it as fuel. She took that pain and transformed it into energy, going on to utilise her platform more than ever and refusing to stay silent about this controversial issue. It inspired me to see Munroe remain so strong and dedicated to her cause. She appeared on many TV shows - a few times with Piers Morgan, whom she dealt with brilliantly despite being able to barely get a word in edgewise. In late September, Illamasqua her as the face of its Beauty Spotlight campaign, which focuses on gender fluidity. She moved onto bigger and better things and continues to use her voice every day to contribute towards shaping a fairer world.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift returned to the spotlight this year after taking time off and getting caught up in (and blamed for) multiple celebrity dramas. She did not just inspire me with the huge success her album, Reputation, had, but more specifically, with what went into the making of that album. Whenever I listen to it, I hear fire and strength in every syllable. I hear the determination of a woman who has suffered so many knock backs yet still gets up fighting. I hear the passion she feels for what she does, so strongly that she refuses to let anyone take her love for self expression away from her. I was bowled over by this masterpiece, as every song fully grappled with my heart. I had never listened to something so heartfelt yet so dark in my life. It’s an empowering listen. Hearing a woman take back full ownership of her narrative in such an innovative way and completely rewriting the rules fills me with such determination. To hear her speak with such fortitude, hold her head so high, live her life so unapologetically and love so loudly without regret... to be able to physically hear her build herself back up, change her mindset and become the gatekeeper - that’s inspiring. Now, she takes no prisoners. She's also a lyrical mastermind who created musical proof for the world that it does get better. Also this year, Taylor Swift's lengthy legal battle came to an end. After being brave enough to speak out about being sexually assaulted, she stood her ground in court and the perpetrator was ordered to pay her the symbolic $1 which she requested - a dollar which represents so much more than what it may seem on the surface. Also, a dollar which the man is yet to pay to her, which is symbolic in itself. She also made hefty donations to organisations which support women who are victims of assault and abuse. I believe Taylor using her voice to discuss this issue was not just a victory for her, but for women everywhere. 2017 was truly Taylor's year and 'twas a year in which she proved to us all what can happen if we stop defining ourselves by how strangers see us.

Amika George
I learned more about the prevalent issue of period poverty this year and one of the reasons why comes in the form of Amika George. At just 18 years of age, she set up the #FreePeriods campaign to fight for all girls on free school meals to have access to free sanitary products so their periods can be safe an hygienic. To see a young woman take a matter she feels passionately about into her own hands like this has been so inspiring, especially when it may not be something she suffers from directly yet wants to help those who do suffer. Monemtum for this campaign has grown over the course of the year and finished 2017 on a high with a huge peaceful protest in London, which a large crowd attended to call for Theresa May to take action. I've been indescribably inspired by Amika's hard work and commitment to annihilating the stigma surround periods, opening up the conversation and making a better life for people who should not be suffering in modern day Britain. Despite criticism and ignorance from others, Amika has continued to push onwards and I know that her campaign will have a lasting impact.

Ariana Grande
In the middle of a world tour, back in May, the world changed forever at Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman Tour concert in Manchester as a terrorist attack on the arena took the lives of 22 people. My entire body went cold as I heard this news on the morning of the 23rd. It isn't really a moment I can properly describe, nor can I describe the immense sadness I felt as I learnt the names of each casualty and their stories. As a regular concert goer who has had some of the happiest times of her life in Manchester, it was horrifying to learn of an attack on a community of music lovers and young girls. However, despite the chaos, the worry, the upset, the grievance, the loss, the tears, Ariana Grande used this tragedy to do something extraordinary. She returned to the city of Manchester after just two weeks to host One Love Manchester, a benefit concert with a star-studded line-up and which was attended by 50,000 people who were determined to show unity and not let fear win. More than £10 million was raised in donations following this concert. Ariana also donated all proceeds from a re-release of her single One Last Time and a live audio version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow that she performed during the concert. I am sure that I speak for everyone when I say that Ariana's courage was awe inspiring. Not just because of how she organised this event so quickly, but because of how strong she was to get on stage herself after a traumatic night and spread love across the world. Also because of how she connected with each victim, how she reached out to them online and how she visited them in hospital, how she spoke to their families and now keeps the 22 angels of that night at the forefront of her mind each time she performs. Ariana Grande, just 24 years old herself, was a beacon of light throughout a dark 2017.

This year, Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty, her own cosmetic company. It isn't unusual for celebrities to collaborate with make-up brands or bring out their own products, however, there was something special about Rihanna's range which had everyone hooked instantly. After seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones, Rihanna created her own which "so that women everywhere would be included." Her line focuses on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades. Rihanna made it her mission to, not only create good quality products, but products which everyone can use, regardless of their skin tone or type. The beauty industry severely lacks in diversity and is not as inclusive as it ought to be in today's society, therefore, seeing Rihanna's brand selling foundations in a so many shades and being so vocal about the importance of a vast shade range was everything. Rihanna created so much more than a make-up line. She recognised the importance make-up holds in many women's lives and the struggles they must go through, seeing their friends wearing products and thinking, "I wish they made that for me." Every woman deserves to be able to wear make-up if she wishes, it shouldn't matter what her skin tone is, she should be able to easily access foundation which matches her. Rihanna truly changed the game so it's no surprise that Time magazine listed Fenty Beauty as one of The 25 Best Inventions of 2017.

Megan Crabbe
Megan Crabbe started her Instagram account BodyPosiPanda three years ago after being welcomed into the body posi community following a battle with anorexia. Since then, her following has skyrocketed and her posts have brought positivity into the lives of many. This year, Megan put even more goodness out into the world by releasing a book titled Body Positive Power, a book full of tips on how to love yourself, regardless of your size, how to see yourself as more than your weight, stop dieting and make peace within yourself. I see Megan and her community as a great source of hope in the world. Body positivity is a massive issue. In a world which teaches us to define ourselves by the number on the scales and socialises us to believe from day dot that we will only be successful if we look a certain way, figures which remind us that it's OKAY to not fit the norm are vital. We can’t all be squashed into a box, we cannot All be carbon copies of one another, human beings come in all different shapes and sizes, all of which are beautiful and just as valuable as each other. As she nears one million followers at the end of 2017, I am adamant that the body positive revolution which Megan has helped shape shall continue well into the new year and I hope that it'll be the year of self love and acceptance.

Malala Yousafzai 
9th October 2017 marked five years since Malala was shot by a Taliban gunman, who attempted to murder her, for speaking out about girls' right to an education. Since, then, she has gone on to achieve remarkable things. In 2017, she was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons of Canada. A major stand out moment for me, however, came back in August when, after completing her A-levels, the Nobel Peace Prize winner gained admission to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford to study for a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. At the tender age of 20, Malala has gone from almost dying for having a voice to becoming a universal symbol of hope. She has proved that education really is the most powerful weapon and strong, intelligent women cannot be stopped. I find inspiration in her activism every day.

After being in a legal dispute since 2013 with former producer Dr. Luke, Kesha was finally able to release new music this year. 2017 brought us Rainbow, an album brimming with love, hope, power and strength and which showcases Kesha's talents in all their glory. Kesha took all the pain caused by the emotional and sexual abuse inflicted upon her by Dr. Luke and used it to manifest something wonderful. She also transformed the negativity that has been surrounding her for so long and flipped it on its head to provide fans of her music with an escape and a light at the end of the tunnel. Kesha's album is fierce, it's firey and it is fully deserving of the two GRAMMY nomination that it got. 2017 was the year Kesha found liberation and was finally able to get back to herself. Her strength during her personal battles have inspired many and I know she's only going to go on to bigger and better things in 2018.

Women's March
On 21st January 2017, millions of people from all backgrounds came together. Women's March was organised to protest against Donald Trump after his inaugration and it beame the largest coordinated protest in US history. Throughout the year, the Women's March have continued to fight tirelessly for the rights of women and marginalised communities and have never once hesitated in speaking out against injustice. They fight for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, skin colour, religion, age, disability, mental illness, background...and, this year, ignited a fire of anger and passion for change within many, myself included. I feel so empowered by the work done by the Women's March and it gives me hope that a better world is on the horizon when I see good people who so strongly believe in change. The Women's March also organised events such as #DayWithoutAWoman, which encouraged women to strike from work in order to stand in solidarity against oppression and the 10 Actions for the first 100 Days campaign to keep up the momentum from the march, which encouraged resistance to continue 100 days on from Trump becoming President. They have repeatedly encouraged people to contact their representatives about issues which matter and to speak out in the face of hatred. I have been continuously inspired by those on the board at the Women's March and all who have marched in whatever way this year. A 2018 March is already planned for 21st January 2018, proving that the fight against injustice, oppression, discrimination and ignorance is far from over.

The Silence Breakers
Too many women have been victims of sexual assault, abuse and harassment in their lifetimes but, in 2017, came an extraordinary wave of speaking out. Countless women shared their stories this year and, with many in the public eye doing so, they became catalysts for movements which encouraged women everywhere to open up. Collectively known now as The Silence Breakers, the women who were brave enough to speak out this year changed the world. They changed the way women are viewed and the way which women view themselves. Ashley Judd was the first person to accuse filmmaker Harvey Weinstein back in October and, since then, countless more have come forward. Her story led to women from all backgrounds and situations finding the courage to speak of the abuse they have endured. Thanks to the #MeToo movement, which was started by activist Tarana Burke, women from all walks of life have learnt that they are not alone and seeing celebrities and famous figures come forwards has made such a difference as, when a huge actress speaks out, it gives the nurse, the chef, the teacher, the lollipop lady..all those normal, everyday women who have bee suffering silently for years, strength to realise that they can do it too. I have nothing but admiration for the women who have spoken out this year, even if 'admire' seems the wrong word as I shouldn't find inspiration in their struggles. Nevertheless, I stand in solidarity with them and can only pray that this culture of shame and silence in which we inhabit will soon cease to exist. It is only right that TIME Magazine names The Silence Breakers Person of the Year.

Who was your woman of 2017?

Love, Emily :) xx

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