It’s official. Women crushed it in 2017. From the Women’s March to Wonder Woman to the #MeToo Movement, women — and particularly women of color — took up more space than ever this year, owning it (and everything in their way!) in just about every corner of culture including sports, entertainment, politics, and social activism.
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The impact? Nothing short of world-changing. That’s why we’re celebrating a few inspiring women — celebrity, everyday, and those still fighting to be seen — who went hard, took action, raised consciousness, and took what’s theirs this year.
Bow down: Here are eight women who slayed — all damn day — in 2017.
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Yara’s a rad social activist — and she plays one on TV. In addition to starring as Zoey in ABC’s wildly popular sitcom Black-ish, in 2015, Yara launched mentoring project Yara’s Club, a program of the Young Women’s Leadership Network, to bring high school students together to discuss social issues and devise plans of action.
This year, the ridiculously woke actor revealed two big developments on her path to socially conscious superstardom. In 2018, Yara will star in her own Black-ish comedy spinoff, Grown-ish… in between undergraduate courses at Harvard University.
But 2017 isn’t over yet. Yara appears to be bringing her art — and activism! — behind the camera, too. Last week, Yara revealed on Instagram that she’s directing a short film for Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology series. Now that’s what we call ACTION!
A native of Daraa, Syria, Muzoon was only 13 years old when her country’s civil war forced her to stop going to school. Muzoon and her family fled the conflict in Syria in 2013, residing in a Jordanian refugee camp for three years before being resettled in the United Kingdom.
Now 19 years old and a girls’ education advocate, Muzoon is UNICEF’s newest Goodwill Ambassador, the youngest in the human rights organization’s history and the first person with official refugee status, too.
“I consider [education] important for others because Syria does not need me alone, it needs a strong generation,” Muzoon told POPSUGAR. “We can build that strong generation only by education.”
Curvy model Barbie Ferreira blew up last year as the breakout star of #AerieREAL’s ad campaign celebrating women’s naturally beautiful bodies, no photoshopping or retouching required. Since then, Barbie has made quite the name for herself not only as a fierce advocate of body-positivity on Instagram, but also as the face of VICE‘s weekly documentary series How To Behave.
Exploring the current world of etiquette in eight-minute chunks, the show, which Barbie playfully calls “definitely feminist propaganda,” takes a look at topics such as money, food, and anger in order to rethink the old-fashioned social mores that hold women back culturally.
“If I can open an eye or two that would be great,” Barbie said of her hopes for How To Behave. “Also, young people out there who can relate to these women and who can see themselves in these women and see that they’re strong.”
Today's cartoon for @theipaper . On Trans Day of Remembrance and in the wake of a transphobic onslaught from large sections of the British media, I've used my little platform to try to explain why misgendering people is ignorant and cruel. . #TDoR #tdor2017 #drawing #cartoon #illustration #illustrator #webcomic #wholesomememes #comic #politics
This year, transgender Chinese filmmaker Hu Ranran shined a spotlight on the trans experience in China with her directorial film debut, Escape. The powerful movie, a collaboration between Hu and a handful of her Beijing high school classmates, takes an unflinching look at the everyday struggles of trans youth living in China.
Inspired by Hu’s own experience growing up trans, the narrative film makes visible the unique challenges facing transgender youth in China such as job discrimination, violence, and access to health services necessary to transition. Hu hopes Escape will open eyes — and minds — to wider trans acceptance in her home country.
“Many people regard transgender [people] as very different,” Hu told The New York Times. “I wanted to make this film to tell people that they are as normal as anyone else.”
Chloe x Halle
Fresh off their latest March mixtape The Two of Us, soul sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey, AKA Chloe x Halle, announced in August their TV acting debut as recurring characters in the upcoming Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish alongside everyone’s socially conscious girl crush Yara Shadidi.
But fans of the experimental R&B duo need not worry. The playful pair will be making sweet music together again soon. The YouTube sensations, who signed to music mentor Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment record label in 2016, hope to drop a brand new full-length album next year. For now, their passionately vocal advocacy of women’s rights on social media is giving us life.
Following their experience taking part in January’s Women’s March in Los Angeles, the inspiring twosome tweeted, “WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DAY WITH INCREDIBLE ENERGY. WOMEN RULE THIS PLANET. DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU DIFFERENT.”
"Most young people don’t look in the mirror and say, “I can run for office.” That’s kind of a new feeling, a new thing that people are pushing for. When young people work on the campaign, and they’re on the campaign trail with me, it gives them a sense of ownership. It makes them feel like a small part of a larger movement for young people to realize their civic duties and their civic rights." – from my interview (just published) with @britandco 🙏🏼
Inspired by her experience being homeless at 15 with her family, Nadya founded PERIOD in 2014, a non-profit that provides menstrual hygiene products to homeless women. Four years on, the now 19-year-old activist has helped more than 78,000 people (and counting!) through her period-positive organization.
But that’s not all. In addition to her work at PERIOD, Nadya’s also writing a book about the menstrual movement in between classes at Harvard University (where she’s currently a sophomore).
This year, she even made a bid to become a Cambridge, Massachusetts City Councilwoman, running on a progressive platform advocating housing affordability, educational equity, and sustainable living. While she was not elected this time around, Team #VoteNadya turned out historic numbers among student and youth voters. Here’s hoping for Nadya Okamoto 2020.
Meet Zoey Luna. Together with her mother, the transgender teen took her right to self-expression to the streets. After Zoey’s school proved unable (or unwilling) to provide adequate support during her transition at 13, Zoey and her family began a long and arduous legal battle to protect Zoey’s right to be.
The frustrating ordeal was captured by documentary cameras and made into the must-see doc Raising Zoey, currently making the film festival rounds. This year, Zoey takes centerstage again in an episode of HBO’s upcoming documentary series 15: A Quinceañera Story.
And it looks like putting a Latina face on the everyday experiences of trans youth is kind of Zoey’s thing. This outspoken and empowered young woman’s Instagram is the textbook definition of #transisbeautiful.
At just 17 years old, Chloe Kim is currently the best female half-pipe snowboarder in the world. In 2016, she earned two X Games gold medals, the youngest athlete to do so. That same year, she blew minds at the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix by becoming the first and only female snowboarder to land back-to-back 1080s. That’s three whole airborne rotations, people!
The feat scored her another first for a woman snowboarder: a perfect 100 score. And Chloe’s career just keeps snowballing. Last week, Chloe qualified to compete on behalf of the United States as part of our half-pipe team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. So frickin’ cool!
Queens are they all. Long may they reign — and inspire!