We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
International Women’s Day!
International Women’s Day this year was a day for celebration and a day for protest. It was a day for working and a day for striking. It was a day for equity and it was a day for equality. However and wherever it manifested, International Women’s Day was undeniably a global phenomenon. And this year the campaign theme was #BeBoldForChange.
Since 1908, International Women’s Day, now observed on March 8, has been a way for different groups, organizations, and governments to recognize the contributions of women. The United Nations called it “a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.”
In a time of great divisiveness, this year was especially interesting. Following the Women’s March on Washington, the organizers of the march called for “A Day Without a Woman.” Industrial action was also encouraged by the International Women’s Strike organization which has branches in more than twenty countries. The idea was to draw attention to disparity and discrimination in the workplace, including the gender pay gap. However, not every woman thought this the best expression of her commitment to female empowerment and gender equality, such as one writer for Verily this week.
Although most protests and demonstrations were peaceful, in New York, three of the Women’s March organizers were arrested for blocking traffic at the Trump International Hotel. Nevertheless, with events all across the globe, the International Women’s Day was successful in raising awareness to the contributions of women throughout history and across the world. —Maddy Kearns
Tory Burch Teams with Other Celebs for International Women’s Day to Celebrate Ambition
In honor of Women’s History Month, fashion designer and businesswoman Tory Burch is out to erase the stigma surrounding ambitious women. The fashion designer said, “I realized that I had bought into the stigma that women shouldn’t be ambitious—that it was unattractive somehow.” Burch wants to destroy the double standard that exists between ambitious men and women. While men are considered successful when they are ambitious, she says that women should be able to be ambitious without being criticized as bossy or unfeminine. Burch enlisted the help of some A-list celebrity ladies such as Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Yara Shahidi, and Diane Kruger. “I can think of a lot of dirty words—ambition is not one of them,” said Witherspoon, a big advocate for advancing women’s roles in front of and behind the cameras in Hollywood. Burch’s foundation, which helps women pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, is encouraging visitors to make a digital pledge to embrace ambition, invite friends to make the pledge too, and share on social media their ambitions with the hashtag #EmbraceAmbition. —Katie Faley
Emma Watson’s Shirt Fiasco and #Feminism
This week a mini Internet storm brewed surrounding a photo of Emma Watson, actress, United Nations ambassador, and latest star of Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast. Watson posed with a sheer shirt revealing much of her chest in a recent Vanity Fair photo shoot, after which a tabloid published the photo with a headline reading, “Beauty and the Breasts.” Shortly after, a columnist tweeted a shot of the page mocking Watson with the words, “Emma Watson: ‘Feminism, feminism . . . gender wage gap . . . why, oh why, am I not taken seriously . . . feminism . . . oh, and here are my tits!’"
Watson responded in an interview with Reuters that she was shocked at the response. “It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is,” she said. “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing.”
Many recalled this week how Watson said in a 2014 interview that she took issue with Beyoncé’s sexually charged music videos in the singer’s self-titled and first visual album: “I felt her message felt very conflicted in the sense that on the one hand she is putting herself in a category of a feminist, you know this very strong woman and she has that beautiful speech in one of her songs but then the camera, it felt very male, such a male voyeuristic experience of her.”
Still others, such as Verily’s own Monica Gabriel Marshall, wrote this week that she feels a connection with what Watson said, that “feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women.” Only for Marshall, she hopes her unique if countercultural views as a woman aren’t ones that others shame her for having in the name of feminism. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Chrissy Teigen Opens Up About Postpartum Depression
On the outside looking in, it may seem like celebrities have it all together. Perfectly done-up in pictures, on screen or within their Instagram feed, it’s easy to think they’re holding it all together on the inside. Many of them keep up the façade even if it’s not the case.
Chrissy Teigen breaks that mold. Known for her relatable sense of humor and candor, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Women are now connecting with Teigen on an entirely new level after she opened up about her experience with postpartum depression. In a recent exclusive essay for Glamour, Teigen shared her struggle at home and at work after the birth of her daughter, Luna. “Most days were spent on the exact same spot on the couch and rarely would I muster up the energy to make it upstairs for bed,” she admitted. She talked about her frustration and short temper at work and the trips to the hospital to try and diagnose the cause of her aching bones. In the essay she shared, “I wanted to write an open letter to friends and employers to explain why I had been so unhappy. The mental pain of knowing I let so many people down at once was worse than the physical pain.”
By generating conversation and awareness to PPD, we can break the stigma behind it and help new mothers understand and overcome it. Keeping the conversation alive and adding her own perspective, Verily contributor Sarah Lintern opened up about her battle with PPD and her fight to overcome. —Maleah Black
Newly Launched Site Provides ‘Luxury Modest Style for Extraordinary Women’
This week a Dubai-based entrepreneur Ghizlan Guenez launched The Modist, a platform centered on providing “luxury modest style for extraordinary women.” According to CNN Style, The Modist is geared “toward an international, cross-cultural, group of women of all ages, who want to express themselves through fashion while leaving something to the imagination.” Launched on International Women’s Day, the site caters to the wave of female empowerment known as “pluri-empowerment,” describing the trend of women creating their own definition of what it means to be “womanly.”
Mary Katrantzou, a London print expert, is one of the seventy-five contemporary designers featured on the site. In describing her collection she shared that it has “never been about being physically revealing, but rather, revealing the aesthetic and personality of our women.” Now that’s empowering. —Maleah Black
A Little Girl Showed Up This Week Against the Charging Bull of Wall Street
The iconic charging bull statue on Wall Street has a new rival. And she is fearless. The day before International Women’s Day, a statue of a girl standing in defiance was installed in front of the bull in downtown Manhattan by multi-trillion-dollar investor State Street Global Advisors. The installment of this symbol seeks to create awareness of the gender gap issue and to launch a campaign to encourage companies to increase the number of women on their boards. According to State Street's deputy global chief investment officer, Lori Heinel, and the Institutional Shareholder Services data, nearly a quarter of the boards of the companies in the Russell 3000 do not have a woman serving. "One of the most iconic images on Wall Street is the charging bull. So the idea of having a female . . . stand up to the bull just struck us as a very clever but also creative and engaging way to make that statement," Heinel told Business Insider. The sculpture, created by artist Kristen Visbal, was installed in collaboration with city officials and is expected to stay up for a month. "Even though it's a little girl, her stance is one of determination, forwardness, and being willing to challenge and take on the status quo." —Mary Brodeur