A Lecturer at University asked me recently who my Feminist Icons are and it really threw a spanner in the works. I couldn’t answer her. My research is still in such a confusing state with piles of papers and books touching on everything from Power Dressing to Feminist theories surrounding shame! My journey with Feminism from a research standpoint has made me feel like I’m drifting away from MY feelings and experiences with inequality as a woman. As a result, I don’t feel like I know who I identify with or who I feel like is out there saying what I want to say…because I don’t even know what I want to say at the moment. (I know I’m rambling, I’m still recovering from too much Christmas dinner over the last few weeks…I think it has addled my brain.)
So here I am now, attempting to make a decision. This list will definitely get longer, possibly even by the end of the month but definitely by the end of the year. Just as a disclaimer, I am going to keep this as prolific figures only, and I will only really point out the people that I feel a personal pull towards. My Mum and Mother-in-Law will always be at the top of my Icon list (both for different reasons) but I want to compile a list that others can research and read into themselves. Bear with me because I know some of these may only relate to me, my life, and my research but this is why our Icons and Heroines are personal.
Now I know Dolly isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea but, to me, she embodies Female Empowerment without isolating anyone and still manages to keep up a Cartoony-esque persona. I am not going to pretend to be her biggest fan musically, but who can say no to a little Dolly eh? She became a star on her own terms and has remained at the top, playing on stereotypes and wrapping Feminist lyrics in a catchy melodic bow. She has repeatedly said she doesn’t identify with the ‘Feminist’ label but simply states she sees herself as a ‘Woman in business’ ‘living her femininity’. Even if she doesn’t identify herself as a Feminist, her positivity and empowering lyrics definitely speak to me. Plus she is bloody hilarious!
I want to be Lizzo’s friend. Plain and simple. She exudes body positivity and confidence. She is a great female-role model, and is not afraid to be vocal.
Okay I know she is a fictional character, but as a child (yes I read the book very young, I was basically Matilda) I identified with her on so many core levels and continue to do so.
What a woman….She stands for education, and the rights to it. She stands for having a sense of humour in a position of grave power and responsibility. She stands for being human in the Whitehouse. I think she is an incredibly intelligent, articulate and empowering woman. That is why she will ALWAYS make my list.
Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley. She is blunt, honest, forthright, intelligent, passionate and actually a NORMAL person in politics. She has fought for Women’s rights before she even entered Parliament, from working with Women’s Aid and in her personal life. She abides by the laws of sisterhood; encouraging, helping and fighting for her fellow Women. I am completely in love with this woman, she puts her money where her mouth is and leads by example. If you haven’t already, read her book ‘Everywoman’ then you need to sort that out right now.
I’m not going to say I know a huge amount about Jameela, but she makes this list because of her fearless calling-out of celebrities and influencers. She sees something that could potentially harm others; she says so. I have a huge amount of respect with how candid she has been when speaking on her Eating Disorder and the issues surrounding. She has opened up a conversation with Instagram about advertising to young women in the hopes of changing it for the better. She is actually doing something and I cannot respect her more for that.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Read ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. That’s all I’ll say.
Read my book review. That’s all I will say on her too. Also, read the book…she is incredibly enlightening.
I love Michelle Visage! She is honest, blunt, loving and bubbly all rolled into one beautiful draggy package. Drag is always a huge inspiration to me visually (I have worked with more Queens than I could list) and Visage is the Mother of Queens. She is an advocate for equality, LGBTQ+ rights, body positivity and generally being outspoken on life. She is a Feminist to the bone.
This list would not be complete without paying homage to all Suffragettes and Suffragists who fought tirelessly, even giving up their freedom and lives, for the equal right to vote. Emmeline was an organiser of the Suffragette movement and is one of the most important Women in history. I am in awe of her bravery and perseverance. Without her, most of the women on this list wouldn’t exist in this context. I am a huge fighter when it comes to getting people off their bums to vote when election time comes around; even if you spoil your ballot paper, I strongly believe it to be an insult to the women of our past if we can’t be bothered to vote. Whenever the opportunity arises.
A beautiful Feminist writer. ‘The Bell Jar’ is laced with issues like mental health, oppression and navigating the world as a Woman.
Fashion + Feminism = Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. She aided women in the liberation of oppressive clothing by offering more comfortable, practical alternatives and encouraged Women to rid themselves of the Corset; a garment riddled with Patriarchal connotations.
Last, but by no means least, my Queen of all Queens. Gaga is part of the reason I pursued fashion; she made it okay for weirdos like me to embrace their creativity and love themselves. She is everything and I look up to her as a hero on many platforms. She uses her voice to speak up against rape culture, sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, LGBTQ+ rights and bullying. If this isn’t feminist, I don’t know what is.
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