Glamour's Women Of The Year Honorees & What They Stand For

 PHOTO: COURTESY MEDIAPUNCH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

PHOTO: COURTESY MEDIAPUNCH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

“Game changers. Rule breakers. Trailblazers.” These are the words used to describe 2018’s recently released list of Glamour Woman of the Year Honorees. The popular female-focused publication has celebrated Woman of the Year for almost three decades. Since its onset, the annual convention and awards ceremony has consistently provided a platform to promote the feminist activists, artists, teachers, influencers, and politicians that are making their mark on the world. Because of Glamour’s international reach, this necessary message is hitting millions and because of the publication’s millennial-focused branding and demographic, it’s hitting the people that need to hear it most-young women.

In Glamour’s words, all of the women that are celebrated at Woman of the Year begin with the same mission statement, “refuse to wait for someone else to make things better. Alone, or with an army behind [you]...decide to act.”

Since reading it, this statement has become my new mantra. It is true that we should not rely on anyone else to make the positive changes we want to see in the world. Whether this is on a larger political and social level, or on a smaller scale at work or in relationships, every woman should feel confident enough to speak up and speak out, make her desires clear and stand firmly by them.

It is my belief that by empowering ourselves first, we will feel as if there is no choice but to help empower others. While the pomp and circumstance of the Woman of the Year event is great for press and raising social awareness, there is a lot of female-centered activism happening on the ground and it is being spearheaded by people like you and me who are willing to “make things better” for ourselves and our communities on a day-to-day basis.

So, that being said, are you looking for an extra bout of inspiration to get you pushing through the week? Then the diverse range of empowering stories from these honorees should have you covered. The issue features a variety of careers, causes, and even ages-ranging from teenaged student activists fighting for stricter gun control laws to the oldest career National Park Service ranger standing at 97 years old.

Keep reading to learn more about the Women of the Year and what they stand for!

The Women Who Spoke Out Against Former USA National Olympics team doctor Larry Nassar

“Believe women.” This statement, motto, command has ushered in a new wave of anti-sexual abuse activism. This activism was propelled, in part, by the athletes and patients who spoke out against Larry Nassar. By sharing their stories of sexual and physical abuse with the world, these women inspired a nation and helped to incriminate a man who had inflicted pain for over two decades. Now it’s the survivors’ turns to take control.


Viola Davis

Although the success of shows like “How To Get Away With Murder” and films such as “Fences” and “The Help” have helped to catapult Ms. Davis into Hollywood acclaim, the fierce actress, activist, and mother has been working as a performing artist for over three decades. As audiences continue to call Hollywood out for tired patterns of excluding people of color and diminishing women's stories, Viola Davis stands out in the crowd of actresses championing this change. Up next for this Emmy winning history maker? The upcoming action film “Widows,” which also stars Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki, rounding out the kick-ass female-led cast.


Kamala Harris

California Senator and attorney Kamala Harris has become an extremely prominent voice in the current political landscape. As a politician catering to one of the largest states in the country, Harris has an inordinate amount of power and refuses to shy away from it. By using her platform to advocate for women's rights, she has given all of us “a voice inside the room where it happens.”


Chrissy Teigen

Anyone who questions Teigen's inclusion in this list is still underestimating the validity of social influence. The model and television personality has amassed over 30 million followers on Twitter and Instagram alone, and is very active on all of these social platforms. The majority of her posts go “viral” due to her quick wit and relatable humor, but because of this reach, she is also able to share her messages of body positivity, cultural tolerance, and progressive politics to an extremely wide reach of fans.


The Young March For Our Lives Female Activists

It is both troubling and inspiring that some of modern day’s most outspoken and well-known activists can not even legally drink in the United States. The younger generation of gun control activists, many of whom were ushered into international limelight during the March For Our Lives Movement, are more vocal than ever. The very students whose schools are being impacted by faulty gun control laws are taking their activism to the streets-organizing rallies, walk outs, and mobilizing their communities to take action.


Betty Reid Soskin

This year’s Lifetime Achievement award is set to go to Ms. Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest living National Park Ranger. This legacy of service is not only admirable, but revolutionary seeing as Soskin, a California based, black American and 2x divorcee, has had to face almost a century’s worth of war, discrimination, and loss. Her continual dedication to keep the nation’s beauty alive and safe has resulted in several honors and even a memoir published earlier this year entitled, Sign My Name to Freedom.


Janelle Monae

Although I have been a Janelle Monae fan for several years now, this honor feels right on time. In addition to releasing Dirty Computer, her third studio album, and embarking on an international tour, the singer/songwriter made waves this year after opening up about her queer identity and self-acceptance. Monae is a champion for everything from LGBTQ+ rights to body positivity to journalistic authenticity, all the while continuing to roll out a stream of empowering and energetic songs. Wherever you are, look up the song “Make Me Feel” and jam along as Monae sings, struts, and slams out chords on an electric guitar-you can thank me later.


Rosemarie Aquilina

Piggybacking off of the brave young girls and women who spoke out against Nassar, is the bold and brilliant woman who pounded the gavel and sent him away. Ingham County circuit court judge Rosemarie Aquilina was assigned to rule over this case and, in front of the nation, affirmed the rights of and recollections stated by these girls. Knowing that there would be a tidal wave of public influence and opinions swaying this case, Aquilina stayed true to course, and delivered her verdict with remarkable stature.


Manal al-Sharif

Last, but most certainly not least, is Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi Arabian activist who spearheaded the women's’ right to drive campaign over five years ago. This summer, some of the fruits of her exhaustive labor were realized when the ban on Saudi Arabian women’s ability to drive was lifted. Of course, many roadblocks still exist in Saudi Arabia, and the steps towards total female liberation all across the globe is still a work in progress, but al-Sharif’s resolute braveness and determination has certainly driven us forward.

What are some ways, big or small, that you push for change in your community? Are any of these ladies your personal sheroes? Let’s talk in the comments below!

CultureBrittani Samuel