We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Grace Coddington Steps Down
This week news broke that Vogue’s longtime creative director and stylist Grace Coddington is stepping down. At age 74, the red-haired beauty, who rose to many Americans’ attention after the 2009 documentary The September Issue, promises not to slow down but to move to other projects. In her 2012 book Grace: A Memoir, Coddington said, “I still weave dreams, finding inspiration wherever I can and looking for romance in the real, not the digital, world.” Among the wisdom she offers others? “Keep your eyes open. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” All the best to you, Grace! Wishing you many more years of dream-weaving ahead. —Mary Rose Somarriba
NASA Shows the World: ‘This Is How You Do It’
What glass ceiling? This week it was announced that 50 percent of NASA’s new class of astronauts is women. Dr. Jessica Meir, Christina Hammock Koch, Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Anne McClain will join their colleagues in the quest to reach Mars. Coming from a wide variety of backgrounds—ranging from a marine biologist to a fighter jet pilot, these women prove that high-level careers in science and engineering aren’t “just for men” anymore. Although one of the hardest parts of being an astronaut can be time away from family (if a trip to Mars is ever achieved, it would take more than a year and a half for the round-trip), this should not be seen as just an issue for women. McClain chooses to look at the positives, saying, “From space, you can’t see borders. What you see is this lonely planet. . . . Here we all are on it, so angry at one another. I wish more people could step back and see how small Earth is and how reliant we are on one another.”
Congratulations to our new astronauts! We’ve come a long way since NASA’s stance in 1962 that there was “no existing program concerning women astronauts nor do we contemplate any such plan.” —Monica Weigel
Speaking of Women in Science . . .
New elements have been added to the periodic table, thanks in great part to Dawn Shaughnessy’s new discoveries last week. It’s no secret that women are a minority in scientific fields, but that didn’t stop Shaughnessy from discovering six new elements as her California-based laboratory teamed up with a Russian research institute. As Anna Quinlan wrote this week for Verily, “[Shaughnessy’s] achievements in the field of chemistry make her a role model for aspiring scientists everywhere and especially for girls who may be studying in ill-equipped science classes just like Shaughnessy did.” —Diana Stancy
What Ronda Did Next
Former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and awesome comedian Tina Fey are to star alongside each other in a film called Do Nothing Bitches, a comedy that is rumored to be a “female-empowerment tale dealing with wealthy pampered wives who get a rude awakening at a camp where Rousey plays the no-nonsense instructor.” The title was taken from a video that went viral last summer of Rousey talking about her physique. Fey’s production company, Little Stranger Productions, will be producing the movie, with Sisters and SNL veteran Paula Pell writing the script. I’m intrigued.
Meanwhile, Rousey appears to have been chosen for the latest cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue—and while in theory it’s great to see a female athlete instead of a model on the magazine, as Baleigh Scott wrote for Verily this week, it would be better still if she weren’t practically naked, prompting everyone to talk about her “painted butt” rather than her considerable accomplishments. —Sophie Caldecott
Amal Clooney Shines a Spotlight on the Crisis in the Maldives
Amal Clooney has never been one to seek the limelight, but in a recent visit to Washington, D.C., the talented human rights lawyer shared with NBC News that there are some benefits of the fame that came as part and parcel of marrying actor George Clooney, namely getting coverage on her recent work fighting human rights abuses in the Maldives. As she explained, “Democracy is dead in the Maldives. . . . Literally, if there were an election now, there would be no one to run against the president. Every opposition leader is either behind bars or being pursued by the government through the courts.”
She was in D.C. to ask the administration to impose targeted sanctions on the country, which reportedly has the highest rate of ISIS fighters being recruited per capita in the world. When asked about the pressures of fame, Clooney went on to comment that “there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with [media attention]; I think I’m exercising it in an appropriate manner by continuing to do this kind of work.” We couldn’t agree more. —SC
Hayden Panettiere Speaks on PPD Since Receiving Treatment
Actress Hayden Panettiere stepped out on the red carpet at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday and shared part of her experience dealing with postpartum depression and how seeking treatment has helped her feel “like a different person.” Panettiere first checked in to treatment ten months ago and publicly shared that she was seeking treatment in October. Afterward, Panettiere acknowledged she was “floored” by the supportive response from women and that women don’t have to go through the struggle of postpartum depression alone. “I’m 26 years old. I’m a mom. I don’t need to be afraid of what people are going to think,” Panettiere said. “I saw how much people rallied behind me when I was honest, and I didn’t know that honesty could be such a gift.”
As Anna Quinlan wrote for Verily this week, “Panettiere’s honesty has indeed been a gift for many women who have felt alone and confused as they’ve wrestled with PPD. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of PPD, we hope you’ll be inspired to speak up and reach out for support.” —DS
Taiwan Elects Its First Female President
Taiwan gained its first female president in a landmark election last weekend. Tsai Ing-wen is the leader of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and beat Eric Chu, the Nationalist Party candidate, with 56.1 percent of the vote. The election is also noteworthy because it marks the first time the Nationalist Party has lost power of Taiwan’s legislature. China’s official news agency ran an editorial saying there was “no denying that the DPP’s return rule poses grave challenges to cross-Strait relations.” Tsai Ing-wen’s party has traditionally been in favor of independence from mainland China, so the world will watch on to see how the relations evolve. —SC
Jada Pinkett Smith Boycotts the Oscars for Lack of Diversity
With #OscarsSoWhite trending on social media, actress Jada Pinkett Smith isn’t the only one to decry the fact that all of the Oscar nominations for best actors the second year running have gone to white actors. Posting on her official Facebook and Twitter pages over the weekend, the actress wrote: "At the Oscars, people of color are always welcomed to give out awards, even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. . . . Should people of color refrain from participating altogether?" On Monday (Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), Pinkett Smith officially announced that she would be boycotting the prestigious awards ceremony in February; filmmaker Spike Lee joined her in announcing that he and his wife would not be going to the event on the same day, although he has since clarified that he is not calling for others to join him in an official boycott. With comedian Chris Rock hosting the Academy Awards next month (he joked on Friday that the Oscars are “the white BET Awards”), it looks like we’re in for an interesting opening monologue. —SC
Mayim Bialik Condemns ‘Modesty Shaming’
After publishing a blog post outlining various clothing preferences, including modesty and “conservative” fashion choices, actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik received significant pushback and was accused of “slut shaming.” Bialik said in the post, “If not putting boundaries around that makes you happy, by all means, knock yourself out. But let’s not modesty shame either. There are a lot of ways to be a woman, and I am grateful to live in a country where all of them are allowed!” Bialik’s decision for choosing to dress modestly deserves respect; after all, she is neither forcing her preferences on anyone else nor condemning those who choose to dress differently; she is simply taking the liberty to express her personal views.
As Baleigh Scott wrote for Verily this week, “Rather than shutting down conversations about what we wear, I say let’s have more conversations about it. How women are represented in media and how we present ourselves are topics worthy of contemplation and discussion. Let’s let go of calling any criticism of something shaming. The real shame would be to silence all dialogue in the name of defensiveness.” This dialogue is relevant because while nobody should be condemned for what they choose to wear, the fact of the matter is, clothing does matter. —DS
Anne Hathaway Comes to J. Law’s Side After Misunderstood Comment
Jennifer Lawrence recently received criticism for telling a reporter to put his phone down during a press conference. While some called J. Law’s comments rude, fellow actress Anne Hathaway expressed support of J. Law by posting a tweet explaining that Lawrence’s comments were taken out of context. Hathaway said, “Let’s not continue the sad but common practice of building people—especially women—up just to viciously tear them down when we perceive them to have misstepped. Jennifer is a beautiful, talented, wildly successful, popular, FOUR-TIME OSCAR-NOMINATED young woman. Please let us not punish her for these things.”
What I admire about this interaction is seeing public female figures choosing to support one another. As Verily’s Monica Weigel wrote this week, “At their heart, Kelly, Anne, Jennifer, Taylor—and all the other women who grace our magazine pages and offer us a brief escape from everyday life—are women who are genuinely interested in pursuing their art forms to the best of their abilities. If we are truly interested and invested in supporting all the varying facets of women, then we should allow these ladies the space to actually be themselves, not just the characters we have created for them.” Amen to that. —DS