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Dec 03
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Awakening

Fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, 53, who in 2016 became the first woman to serve as creative director for Dior, has revealed that she “didn’t really discover feminism” until she was “about 48.” Chiuri, who credits her awakening to her daughter, Raquele, made waves across the fashion world after she emblazoned We Should All Be Feminists, the title of Chimamanda Ngochi Adichie’s famous book, onto t-shirts at her first Dior show.

“I was brought up to think a woman could do anything she wanted. That was pre-Berlusconi. It was downhill for Italian women once he came into power. Total objectification,” said Chiuri. “For all those years I worked at Fendi, it never occurred to me to be vocal. It was such an amazing company — and entirely run by the five Fendi sisters. There didn’t seem any need to shout about feminism. I guess I had got very complacent, like a lot of my generation.”

“We’re so conditioned to think the most important thing is to please others, that we don’t always put ourselves forward,” she added. “You have to keep challenging your thinking. That’s the only way to change anything.”

I ❤️️@dior

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Following her feminist awakening, Chiuri said she was further impacted by Trump’s election, and then the still ongoing #MeToo movement. In September 2017, she began rolling out another line of T-shirts — this time featuring the title to Linda Nochlin’s seminal 1971 essay, “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” And while some critics have accused her of trying to profit off of a rising women’s movement, Chiuri says that “the message is more important than the label.”

“Honestly, this was not about making money,” she said. “Getting Sidney Toledano (Dior’s CEO) to agree to doing a T-shirt wasn’t easy. ‘Dior is not a T-shirt brand,’ I was told. All the profits have gone to charity.”

Read the full story at The Telegraph.

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Identity & belonging

A photo exhibit by artist Laura Aguilar featuring portraits of a “hidden subculture” of large-bodied, lesbian, Latina women, herself included, is receiving high praise from critics for its examination of “identity and belonging, the friction of feeling unworthy and the peace of reaching self-acceptance.”

In what marks Aguilar’s first full survey, independent curator Sybil Venegas, a former professor of Aguilar’s at East Los Angeles College, compiled more than 130 of Aguilar’s works and displayed them over two floors at the Vincent Price Art Museum. Notable pieces included a series of prints titled How Mexican is Mexican, which included a row of thermometers at the bottom of each print, in the same way that is often used to measure hot sauce. But according to art critics Leah Ollman of The Los Angeles Times and Michelle Hart of The New Yorker, it was Aguilar’s nude self-portraits that really stole the show.

In a series of self-portraits taken in the New Mexican desert, the curves of Aguilar’s nude body fit naturally among the deserts rocks and boulders, and “echo beautifully the shapes of the landscape around her,” Hart wrote.

In another, more overtly political piece, the artist can be seen standing topless and bound in rope between the American and Mexican flags, her lower body draped in the Star Spangled Banner, and her head muzzled by an image of the eagle from the Mexican coat of arms.

People that have gone to view the exhibit are posting on social media.

But for Ollman, the most remarkable piece may have been a 2007 video, in which Aguilar can be seen standing naked, “literally and metaphorically,” in front of a stone wall.

“Aguilar speaks to the camera about her struggles with depression, fear, self-doubt, the lack of touch in her life … describing how her photographs help remind her of her own capacity and beauty,” Ollman wrote.

Read the full story at The New Yorker and The Los Angeles Times.

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Making a difference

Actress and soon-to-be princess Meghan Markle, who is engaged to Prince Harry of Great Britain, has been a vocal feminist ever since the age of 11, as shown in a 1993 video interview that originally aired on Nickelodeon. In the video, which was recently unearthed by Inside Edition, a young Markle shared how she reacted to a dishwasher advertisement in which women can be seen scrubbing dishes while a voiceover declares that “women are fighting greasy pots and pans.”

“I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just mom does everything,” said the 11-year-old. “It’s always mom does this, and mom does that … I said, ‘Wait a minute, how could somebody say that?’”

Markle wrote to Procter & Gamble outlining her objections to the ad, suggesting that they swap the word “women” in the voiceover with “people.” Remarkably, the multinational company not only read her letter, but even agreed to remove the gendered language from the advertisement.

Nearly 20 years later, Markle reflected on that moment while delivering a speech at the U.N. for International Women’s Day.

“I remember feeling shocked and angry and also just feeling so hurt,” she said. “It just wasn’t right and something needed to be done.”

Watch the video of 11-year-old Markle below.

Read the full story at Town & Country magazine.

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Lifesaver

Amid the current head-spinning news cycle of sexual harassment and assault stories that are barraging us each day, it may seem difficult to find a positive news story, let alone a heartwarming one. But on Thursday night at the 2017 Billboard Women in Music event, singer Selena Gomez delivered a moment that is inspiring and poignant for all the right reasons.

Gomez was being honored with the “Woman of the Year” award, a distinction she’s earned both personally and professionally. The singer has been open about her struggles with lupus and the fact that she underwent a kidney transplant in August, and all the while her career has been humming along — she released a new album and is an executive producer for a hit Netflix show. But it was the kidney transplant, made possible by a selfless friend, that was on her mind Thursday night. The life-saving organ donation was made by the actress Francia Raisa. In September, Gomez told fans about the surgery, and shared a photo on social media of her and Raisa in their hospital beds.

“To be honest, I think Francia should be getting this award … she saved my life,” Gomez said of Raisa, whom she brought with her to the award show. “I feel incredibly lucky. Honestly, I couldn’t be more grateful for the position that I’ve been given in my career from 7 to 14 to now.”

She continued, saying, “I want people to know that I respect the platform that I have so deeply because I knew that I wanted to be a part of something great, I wanted people to feel great.”

“Specifically this year, I would like to thank my amazing team and my family because they stuck with me through some really hard times,” she added. “I got to do a lot this year, even though I had a couple of other things to do.”

Prior to the show, Gomez and Raisa were seen being photographed on the red carpet together, another decidedly happy photo of the two.

Honoree Selena Gomez and Francia Raisa attend Billboard Women In Music 2017 at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood Highland Center on November 30, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Billboard)

Below, watch a video clip of Gomez’s emotional acceptance speech.

Read the full story at Billboard.

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Times change

In the wake of renewed criticism over her 1998 Op-Ed defending Bill Clinton from accusations of sexual assault, feminist icon Gloria Steinem has refused to apologize or admit regret about the controversial essay — though she did note that she probably “wouldn’t write the same thing now.”

In an essay titled Feminists and the Clinton Question, Steinem had refused to condemn Clinton for his consensual affair with Lewinsky, and glossed over sexual harassment claims from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. Jones had sued the then-president for allegedly summoning her to his hotel room when he served as Arkansas governor. She said that Clinton had then touched her inappropriately, tried to kiss her, and demanded that she perform oral sex on him. But in Steinem’s Op-Ed, she wrote that “Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection,” adding that “there seems to be little evidence” that Jones was negatively impacted by the incident. A year after Steinem’s essay was published, former Clinton campaign volunteer Juanita Broaddrick accused him of rape — a claim he also denied.

With renewed focus on the way that women who report harassment or rape against power figures are silenced, writers such as Caitlin Flanagan have held up Steinem’s Op-Ed as a classic example of slut-shaming and victim-blaming. But at a benefit for the Ms Foundation for Women, which Steinem helped found, she said that she stands by the essay.

“We have to believe women,” said Steinem. “What you write in one decade you don’t necessarily write in the next. But I’m glad I wrote it in that decade … Because the danger then was we were about to lose sexual harassment law because it was being applied to extramarital sex, free will, extramarital sex, as with Monica Lewinsky.”

“Paula Jones,” she added, “in spite of all the pressures on her, said very clearly, ‘He said to me, I wouldn’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do.’ That was part of her testimony.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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12.03.17

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