We’re fighting a time caught in-between great social movements and confusing political stances. We’re caught in-between political correctness and having no clue whatsoever on what to call someone, some thing, or some group because oftentimes we’re too scared to ask or we feel penalised for being bold. Today, things are different.
International Women’s Day celebrates and commemorates the movement for women’s rights and yet we’re sat in a time where we’re still having to protest. But it’s not all flawed. If anything, we’re living in a time where we have women, and men alike to celebrate.
We all celebrate different women for very different reasons. It’s something that we admire of them, or perhaps something that has resonated with us, inspired us or touched us. Today, I celebrate the women who have helped me. The women who came to me through through film, art and the written word.
When I first became aware of Fran Lebowitz, I’m not sure if I admired her wardrobe or her work more. I remember admiring her for her Anderson & Sheppard suit jackets as well as for a style so instantly recognisable.
What developed from an initial infatuation with her as a whole, was a desire to become more like her. Not in that I wanted what she has. Not in that I wanted to copy her works or copy her style. I wanted to have the ability to live as I so wanted to. She writes what she wants. She dresses how she wants. She’s hired for her talent. She doesn’t back down.
“I never took hallucinogenic drugs because I never wanted my consciousness expanded one unnecessary iota.” – Fran Lebowitz
Lebowitz has an innate ability to write on society and seriousness whilst maintaining humour, sensibility, value and eloquence. She also seems to possess the essential, and often lost ability to remain as one so desires, not falling at the feet of what we’re told we should or shouldn’t be doing.
I hadn’t heard of Gloria Steinem until an English Literature lesson at school provided us with the quote: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” to analyse. It was that one quote that resonated with me for the rest of the day.
Until then, I had the idea in my head that at some point in my life I would want to be with a man, but on that day, Steinem confirmed to me that I would never need a man because society had taught me that. I knew from that day on, that any need for a man would be down to my own want, and not because I’m conforming to how we are influenced by society.
The first designer I had ever become aware of was Vivienne Westwood. For me at such a young age, it was amazing to know of a living designer who was responsible for so many social changes. I loved the aesthetics of her collections as well as her activism. Dame Vivienne Westwood has not just helped influence change through her fearless and freeing designs, but has also campaigned for and raised money for a variety of causes. This includes Civil Rights and Nuclear Disarmament.
Around the age of ten, I had made a vow to myself that I would buy a Vivienne Westwood bag with the first substantial pay check I were to receive as a way to both treat myself, and give my own form of recognition to a brand which is to me, stands for more than an attractive facade.
American director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor Ava DuVernay has been the woman behind some of contemporary cinema’s most important films- Selma and 13TH being two of them. At the 2012 Sundance festival, DuVernay became the first African-American woman to win the award for Best Director for Middle of Nowhere.
“Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. We’ve been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it’s unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed.” – Ava DuVernay
DuVernay has used her craft to bring more than frivolous content to screens. Instead, she has used her voice along with her craft and business skills in order to bring to the forefront important social issues and stories. It’s no surprise for someone who began her career in journalism.
Shona Rhimes, creator, head writer, executive producer, and showrunner of t Grey’s Anatomy, has done more for television than many might realise. Even now, I don’t know where to start when discussing why Shonda Rhimes is such an important and influential woman. With her own production company Shondaland, she has brought diverse and well-written characters to everyone’s homes, winning her awards and recognition alike.
In 2007, Rhimes was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 People Who Help Shape the World followed by an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth in 2014. Her book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, was widely appreciated and perhaps for it’s honesty. “With three children at home and three hit television shows, it was easy for Shonda to say she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid.And then, over Thanksgiving dinner, her sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything. Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.”
The Guardian asked, and quite rightly so: Is Shonda Rhimes the most powerful woman in television.
Lena Dunham often sits in the middle of controversy. Outspoken and bold, Dunham is anything but fearless when it comes to her thoughts. What I admire about Dunham is her ability to write, and write openly. Arguments surround privilege when it comes to the success Dunham has had, and perhaps part of that is. But she has taken opportunities, utilising privilege as well as her own talent to stand up and use her voice.
I grew up on idealism. Sex And The City was one of the shows that I would watch alongside a whole host of film and television that I could daydream about. What Girls did was fill a gap in the market. Me and a friend were having a conversation about Girls and the impact it’s had on us both, and this is what I said:
“For me it’s almost like I grew up with these ‘fairytales’ knowing I’d never have them which sort of kept me grounded because I was exposed to all sorts of stuff- both amazing and unfortunate and then I had things like Girls that taught me real things… it’s nice to have had that sort of guidance/aspiration to hold me in place. Life gets messy. But it has its incredible parts too- and hey, we’re still very young!”
When I grow up, I want to be Iris Apfel. It’s the first thing I said when I watched Iris on Netflix. Art-History graduate. Interior designer. Assistant. Visiting professor. Business Owner. Subject of an exhibition. Subject of a documentary. Is there anything Iris hasn’t done?
If you don’t learn constantly, you don’t grow, and you will wither. Too many people wither on the vine. Sure, it gets a little harder as you get older, but new experiences and new challenges keep it fresh.- Iris Apfel
“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.” – Iris Apfel
I think Diane Keaton is a wonderful Actress. Her characters Annie MacDuggan Paradis (The First Wives Club) and Annie Hall (Annie Hall) are two of my favourite characters in film. These two cyacatres specifically are two very important women. Two women I fantasised about becoming. I think it’s yet to happen. I have written a numerous amount of times about Annie Hall, and a few times on The First Wives Club because there is so much that can be said, and so much that came from both films and both characters.
Her style has become something of a talking point since the 70’s. She has stood by friend Woody Allen thought a turbulent personal life in the media and in an interview for The Telegraph said “I’m going to say what I think”. She too, is bold. She’s been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post. She’s an actress, director, producer, singer, self-proclaimed real estate developer and photographer- She’s Wonder Woman. This Oscar winner has made a wonderful career for herself as well as from what we can speculate, a very interesting personal life.
“I’m stuck in this idea that I need to be authentic … My face needs to look the way I feel.”– Diane Keaton