“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” Ann Richards
Feminism is the word on everybody’s lips. It’s the only ism that’s still in fashion and its new wave bra-bearers are working hard to get people talking again. Last year it was announced that Saudi Arabia was opening a women-only town, which though not conceived with female empowerment in mind, actually enabled women to achieve and succeed without constraints. The despicable rape rallies and Sharia law enforcements have given rise to extreme, necessarily aggressive forms of feminism from the Arab Spring, and the recent debate over tribal mutilation of women has opened yet another door of debate en route to abolishing inequality and sexual injustice. The Girl Effect are one organisation working hard to make changes early on, educating young women about the dangers of teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and the importance of staying in school, because, as Brigham Young said: “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation”.
Blessed are we Westerners, for whom feminism means strong role models, clever women in power and high kicks in trainers. Celebrating International Women’s Day means celebrating women all over the world exerting feminism at every level. Counting the women who have inspired us this year so far, we present our Top 10 Females of 2013. Ok so these aren’t the political leaders, they’re more the high kick trainer wearers, but we do so admire their spirit.
IRIS APFEL tells Ari Seth Cohen about glasses, style and the freedom of age.
Beyoncé “Boy you know you love it how we’re smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.” This year, Beyoncé joined previous coverstars Adele, Phoebe Philo and Angela Lansbury on the cover of The Gentlewoman, one of the most respected female publications in the fashion media. With the release of her documentary ‘Life is but a dream’ a few weeks ago, and her upcoming Glastonbury performance, Beyoncé mother nature, dancer warrior has always been doing the feminism thing for yonks. She’s an independent panther-woman. Even her nostrils are FIERCE. Sarah Raphael
Hilarious, discerning and adorable, Lena Dunham is totally original. One step ahead of us all, she is the funny girl who doesn’t care what you think about her thighs and makes herself laugh the loudest. Offering women all over the world respite, her existence reminds us all that being comfortable in our own skin is a universal right; one that women are robbed of every day. Milly McMahon
Sylvia Plath 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s death. The Guardian wrote the definitive piece on her, so we’ll just leave you with our favourite quotes from her poems and her book. She said feminism better than we ever could. Sarah Raphael “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” The Bell Jar “I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free.” Tulips “Out of the ash I rise with my red hair and I eat men like air.” Lady Lazarus
She dyed her hair pink, on purpose, aged 63 and it looked hot. Proof that getting older doesn’t mean acting more sensible, Meryl could bungee jump in the buff off the eiffel tower and I would still have respect for her. Smart, sexy and sophisticated she has a certain Je ne sais quoi that will keep the world intrigued long after she leaves it. Milly McMahon
A 22 year old Oscar winning, booty shaking, Dior wearing, Jack Nicholson-rebuffing, husky-voiced goddess from Kentucky. She falls over on stage and still looks hot. Did I also mention she was 22?Rose Poole
She never conformed. She found her strength and her voice through the difficulties that life put to her and inspired millions to do the same through her beautiful words in her autobiography. Ger Tierney
“I think if women put some more of the time and money they put on their heads in their heads, they’d be better off… I believe it was Chanel who said, ‘Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately hard to look young’. I think you can be attractive at any age.” This lady makes being old cool. At 91, Iris’s opinions on ageing gracefully and eternal style inspire a confidence in every generation of women. Sarah Raphael
With a pseudonym coming from the expression “a sterling effort”, Linder Sterling is feminism incarnate. A punk artist influenced by both music and popular culture, her amusing yet meaningful vision of women has been an endless inspiration. Léa Taleb
Sharon Rooney is a funny woman. Playing Rae in e4 series ‘My Mad Fat Diary’, Sharon talks as honestly as you like about her weight, her sex drive and her slightly mad tendencies. She’s a woman on the edge, and turns that into something positive. “I’d love for someone to watch it and think: tonight I’m not going to hurt myself, I’m going to give myself a break because I am quite a good person.” Sarah Raphael
Fairytale princess Taylor Swift exudes a confident sense of self; a confidence that is inspirational. Sweet and innocent, her wholesome image makes women feel proud of their prowess, without evoking jealousy. Taylor for President. Milly McMahon
Phoebe PhiloSarah Mower summed it up perfectly when commenting on Céline’s spring/summer 12 collection “it’s the work of a woman working for women”. Phoebe Philo understands modern women and how they want to dress. Her designs celebrate their strength and empowerment whilst subtly communicating touches of softness and vulnerability. Ger Tierney (Photography: David Sims)