This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating the women who are boldly daring to make waves, smash barriers, and build a better future for womankind. Meet: The new (and improved) face of beauty.
Who She Is: Gigi Gorgeous, model, actress, and internet superstar.
Where She’s From: Montreal, Canada.
Claim to Fame: Gorgeous gained notoriety with her all-encompassing YouTube channel, which features everything from killer makeup tips to her thoughts and reactions to everyday life (girl even documented her most recent breakup). She’s garnered more than 2.5 million followers in eight years — yowza! So wild, in fact, was her success that YouTube even offered her her own docuseries titled (ironically), “The Untitled Gigi Gorgeous Project.” She also just so happens to be transgender, coming out back in 2013 in an act that would make her a huge role model for the community. Born as Gregory Lazzarato, Gorgeous has since gone on to become a HUGE LGBTQ+ rights advocate, with a Sundance film about her life (This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous) released on YouTube Red about a month ago.
Why She’s a Bold Woman to Watch: As a high-profile transgender woman, Gorgeous has not only given kids of the transgender community a glimpse of all that they can achieve, she’s given them someone to relate to. Chronicling her everyday experiences, which include everything from hormone therapy treatments to having her name legally changed, gives those struggling hope and camaraderie they might not otherwise have. She frequently speaks out about issues in the community, even calling President Trump to task for his recent changes to Title IX guidelines, which protected transgender students against sex discrimination. But it’s her messages to young LGBTQ+ youth, perhaps, that matters most: “You have to report to yourself,” she said in a recent video about her own insecurities. “You are enough. You are more than enough. (Author: Nicole Briese. Photo via Frazer Harrison/Getty.)
Who She Is: Ashley Graham, model, designer and body-positive role model.
Where She’s From: Lincoln, Nebraska.
Claim to Fame: Most simply know Graham as the gorgeous face they see in ads for H&M, in the pages of Sports Illustrated, and strutting the runway for the likes of Michael Kors, but she’s also a style writer (she even served as a style editor for InStyle), a designer, and a huge champion of body positivity: Last year, she even got her own Barbie, giving little girls everywhere a toy that reflected an entirely different group than the size 00 plastic figure they’d grown used to seeing.
Why She’s a Bold Woman to Watch: We LOVE Ashley’s message of inclusiveness.and self-love regardless of your size. While she’s known for being a champion for plus-size women the world over, she’s also come under fire before from those who thought she’d lost too much weight to be representing the largely underrepresented group of women. Graham had the PERFECT response for them, saying, “People come on my page and body shame me because I’m too small, because I’m not good enough for their standards. But at the end of the day, I’m good enough for me.” She also took to Snapchat to post a shot of herself in lingerie, typing the words that had us cheering: “I will not let others dictate how I live my life and what my body should look like for their own comforter. And neither should you.” Hear, HEAR! (Author: Nicole Villeneuve. Photo via Jamie McCarthy/Getty.)
Who She Is: Laverne Cox, actress and activist.
Where She’s From: Mobile, Alabama.
Claim to Fame: Laverne Cox gained public attention when the first season of Orange Is the New Black came out on Netflix, and we all learned about her story eagerly. Since then, just as eagerly, she’s been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s fantastic to see people use their platform for good, and she goes above and beyond. Since her breakout role in Orange Is the New Black (for which she was nominated for an Emmy — the first openly trans person to be nominated since 1990), she’s appeared as a guest star in multiple shows, including Law and Order: SVU, Bored to Death, was on the cover of Time Magazine, and has spoken out about transgender issues to a number of outlets and on multiple live television programs.
Why She’s a Bold Woman to Watch: How do we love Laverne Cox, let us count the ways. She’s a fantastic woman for so many reasons: she’s body-positive, she’s an LGBTQ advocate, she’s a fantastic actress, she radiates warmth and positivity, and she amplifies the voices of marginalized women, especially trans and nonbinary folks who need it. What’s not to love?
Cox has also been awarded an honorary doctorate from The New School for her extensive work in the fight for gender equality, and considering the fight that has yet to come, she’s a woman we have to watch in the coming years. Transgender rights in particular are under fire under this administration, and people like Laverne Cox are going to be crucial in this fight. We love her for her activism, her kindness, her passion, and so much more. (Author: Rosemary Donahue. Photo via Mike Windle/Getty)
Who She Is: Serena Williams, model, fashion designer, and — oh yeah! — one of the literal greatest athletes of all time.
Where She’s From: Saginaw, Michigan.
Claim to Fame: Williams became the second African-American woman to ever win a Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open. She was just 17 at the time, and her record-setting streak has yet to stop. Williams has since been ranked the No. 1 player in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association SEVEN times and holds 23 Grand Slam singles titles, plus 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with sister Venus and four Olympic gold medals.
Why She’s a Bold Woman to Watch: Serena Williams isn’t just a professional tennis player; she’s a #bossbabe who has become completely synonymous with the sport. When she’s not on the court, she’s a model, fashion designer (her Signature Statement line is sold on the HSN) and, most recently, an ambassador for Berlei Australia’s empowering #DoItForYourself campaign, which promotes body positivity and female empowerment.
Williams is also an avid spokesperson for acceptance, female empowerment and the importance of loving your body just the way it is. No stranger to being body shamed, Williams is on a mission to spread the message of self-love to women around the world.
“Women face so many impossible ideals,” she has said. “It’s important for me to get across that there’s more than one way to look amazing. I love that I’m a full woman and I am strong, and I’m powerful, and I’m beautiful at the same time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s so important to look at the positives.” (Author: Barbara Pavone. Photo via Pascal Le Segretain/Getty)
(Illustrations via Sarah Tate/Brit + Co)