Women's history in the making
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When we hear about Women's History Month (or any history month, for that matter), we tend to think about the pinnacles of women's issues. Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are a few names that come to mind.
What we forget, though, is that history is constantly happening around us. It's being made every day. Why don't we have a look at a few of the most influential women right now and what contributions they're making to society?
I've chosen these three women because their contributions to society extend beyond women's rights issues. They are leaving their mark on history one day at a time and slowly helping society reach where it needs to be.
More than likely, Michelle Obama is one of the first people that pops into your head when you think about today's most influential women, and that's understandable. Regardless of your political beliefs, there's no denying that every First Lady plays a big role in our society.
However, there's a lot more to Michelle Obama than just being the first black First Lady, which could easily be reason enough to be named an influential woman. By far, her biggest impact on today's society is her effort to end childhood obesity in America.
The "Let's Move!' campaign she started encourages children to become active and eat healthily. The website, www.letsmove.gov, provides information on how kids and their families can maintain a healthy lifestyle. It's presented in a sleek, stylish format that makes the information easy to grasp.
Actress Anne Hathaway is quickly becoming one of the most influential women in Hollywood. While her involvement in charities such as The Human Rights Campaign and The Step Up Women's Network are admirable, what's most influential about Hathaway is how she presents herself as a good role model for young girls by condemning the societal pressures on women.
In December, Hathaway suffered a wardrobe malfunction at the "Les Miserables" premiere that resulted in the paparazzi photographing much more than she intended. While on "The Today Show" promoting the film, she was asked by host Matt Lauer what she learned from the incident.
"It kind of made me sad on two accounts," she responded. "One was that I was very sad we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment and rather than delete it and do the decent thing, sells it. And I'm sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality of unwilling participants."
When Lauer began to ask her how she lost 25 pounds for her role, even after she had already stated she didn't wish to discuss it, she said, "I get nervous talking about it because I find that I don't want to be seen as trying to glamorize it. There's a lot of talk, a lot of pressure especially on young girls to lose weight. I didn't do it to 'get hot.' I did it to look like I was dying."
Also in the entertainment industry, there's by far no female musician right now more influential than Lady Gaga, whose political activism seems to know no bounds. In order to promote HIV and AIDS awareness, Gaga and fellow singer Cyndi Lauper partnered with MAC Cosmetics to create a lipstick line, the proceeds of which benefit the company's worldwide campaign to prevent HIV and AIDS. The sales of Gaga's lipstick alone have raised more than $202 million.
Gaga is perhaps best known for her work with the LGBTQIA community. She was a fiery advocate for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't' tell" law, and she continues to focus her efforts on raising awareness of LGBTQIA rights.
Gaga also started the Born This Way Foundation, which is inspired by her album of the same time. The nonprofit organization seeks to promote self-acceptance and self-confidence and empower youth, while also dealing with anti-bullying issues.
Additionally, she started a project called A Body Revolution 2013, which seeks to promote acceptance of one's own body. It was inspired both by the media's mocking of her recent weight gain and her battles with anorexia and bulimia since the age of 15.