5 Women We Love for Their Work to #EmbraceEquity
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Embrace Equity.” What does the theme mean? It means no woman is left behind, every woman has an opportunity to thrive, every woman feels seen in the world, and no woman has to minimize or hide aspects of themself to belong.
Throughout my own journey to learn about other BIPOC women’s experiences, much of my growth has come about by following the stories and issues raised by women in popular culture.
Here are five women from equity-seeking groups who I have learned from, sought solace from when things looked bleak, and cheered on in their quest for a more equitable world.
Lizzo: Messages of Body Positivity
Lizzo is a singing superstar and she uses her platform to talk about body positivity. She is advancing the conversation on equity through her various ventures, including:
Lizzo’s Emmy-winning show on Amazon Prime follows her search for plus-size dancers to join her on tour. The dancers discuss their journeys of being bullied and not being taken seriously. They share their unique experiences of being women of color and being big.
As a viewer, it was an inspiring journey to go on with these women who usually don’t get the spotlight.
Using her platform to highlight other women doing incredible work
Lizzo was named 2022’s People’s Champion at the People’s Choice Awards. In her speech, she said, “To be an icon is not about how long you have had your platform, but what you do with that platform…And ever since the beginning of my career, I have used my platform to amplify marginalized voices.” She then welcomed 17 women activists to the stage, introduced each one individually, and shared details of the powerful work each activist does to uplift their community.
Making clothing accessible to bigger women
Lizzo wanted to do something about how inaccessible clothing can be for big women, so she launched Yitty, a shapewear line for women of all sizes. She took the opportunity to fill a gap in the fashion industry and regularly practices what she preaches — followers can regularly spot her flaunting the label on TikTok.
It’s about women supporting women and using their platform and megaphone to uplift the ones who don’t have it. We can all learn this from Lizzo and make good use of whatever power we have whenever we can and contribute toward making the world an equitable place.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Advocating for Women’s Rights
AOC has been one of the biggest names in politics since she burst onto the scene in 2018 and she has used this attention to highlight topics that she cares about. She calls out misogyny, supports other women, and advocates for women-focused policies such as affordable child care and paid family leave. A few of her inspiring moments include:
Calling out misogyny and standing up to abuse
When a colleague called her a “f*cking b*tch” within earshot of a reporter from The Hill, she took to the floor of the United States Congress and gave a 10-minute masterclass in calling out misogynist behavior.
AOC didn’t mince words and stood up for any woman who’s dealt with similar behavior. “This is not new. And that is the problem. It is not a single incident but a culture of impunity…acceptance of violent language against women and an entire structure of power that supports that,” she said.
When I watched her response, I was in awe of how calm, collected, and courageous she was. A lot of people seemed to have thought the same — the video of her speech went viral and women on TikTok were lip-syncing along to it.
Showing us that makeup is not frivolous
AOC participated in a video blog with Vogue called “Beauty Secrets” in which she shared details of her skincare and beauty regimen. She turned the typical #getreadywithme video template on its head as she emphasized that makeup is not frivolous.
The makeup tutorial was the backdrop against which she painted bigger points about topics like femininity, inclusive skincare products, and how women’s appearance affects their earning potential. She talked about the pink tax and how the queer community uses makeup as a form of self-expression. AOC used the video to talk about a topic that is an integral part of life for countless women and showed its real-world impact and consequences.
Being vocal about women’s rights
She keeps her social media followers engaged when news breaks that relates to women’s rights, including the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the end of Roe v. Wade, and attacks on trans healthcare. Her Insta thread discussing reproductive rights is just one example of AOC standing up for women’s rights. Her videos offer hope and action items in the darkest of times.
Through her powerful advocacy on issues that affect women’s lives and her candor in sharing her own truths, AOC is working to make this world a better place for women.
Dylan Mulvaney: Sharing Her Trans Journey
Dylan Mulvaney is a TikTok superstar with a massive audience of 10M+ followers. Dylan came to prominence when she started sharing her transition journey on TikTok in a series called “Days of Girlhood.” On Day 1, she came out to her friends and family. She’ll mark Day 365 in just a few days with the debut of a Broadway musical. She says that she started this series because of the unspoken shame of being newly trans.
Dylan’s videos immediately caught my attention with their joyfulness and positivity. She openly and honestly talks about her day-to-day life during her transition. From getting her facial hair removed to modeling opportunities and the challenges trans people face in dating, her posts run the gamut. She’s also discussed the transphobia that she’s encountered since beginning her journey and responds with love and concern.
Dylan has even taken her activism to the highest office in the land and interviewed President Biden about transphobia and the politicization of trans issues.
By sharing her life and showing the world what trans lives look like, Dylan is encouraging her followers and the world to accept trans women and allow them to live their lives without fear and violence.
Tia Wood and Shina Nova: Advancing Equity for Indigenous Women
Tia Wood is a Salish and Nehiyaw native woman from Northern Alberta. She is a singer, dancer, and content creator who shares videos of herself singing Indigenous songs and dancing at powwows. In one stunning Instagram Reel, Tia’s mother is braiding her hair and adorning her with native regalia while she sings the song “I am my mother’s savage daughter.” The beauty and the spirit of that video and that song had me transfixed. It depicts a powerful mother-daughter bond, it shows native pride, and it’s a proud reclaiming of the narrative of what it is to be an Indigenous woman.
Shina Nova is an Inuit model and social media influencer from Northern Canada. She practices a traditional art form called throat singing. In one video, Shina shares how throat singing was demonized and banned by the church and that she sings to keep the art alive. She also educates people about the Inuit lifestyle, including Inuit food and clothing and the significance of native face tattoos.
Both Tia and Shina make content with their mothers and it’s beautiful to see the intergenerational passing down of knowledge and traditions. These two women are advancing equity for Indigenous women by sharing their stories.