20 most talked about women of 2013

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Anna Pollitt
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Nigella Lawson got the prime minister in trouble. Danish leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt got the prime minister in trouble. Simon Cowell got Lauren Silverman in trouble.

From Miley Cyrus and her omnipresent tongue to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, we look back at 20 of the most talked about women of the last 12 months.

Add your suggestions below or tweet us at @StylistMagazine.

Images: Rex Features, Elise Andrew

  • Nigella Lawson

    A divorce and being a witness in the fraud trial of her former personal assistants propelled Nigella Lawson to the top of this year's news agenda. Maintaining her dignity and wit throughout, even David Cameron was moved to profess his admiration for the celebrity cook during the ongoing court case - prompting our country's leader to receive a stern telling off from the trial judge.

    (She also did a great stint as a beauty editor.)

  • Beyonce

    In February she admitted miming at the President's inauguration (due to perfectionism issues), gave a bum-slapping fan what-for in May, caused a stir by unveiling a dramatic blonde pixie crop in August, and topped off the year by releasing an album online completely by surprise this month, selling more than 430,000 copies in a day and generating 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours.

  • Miley Cyrus

    Aah, Miley Cyrus. For better or worse, 2013 has truly been her year. She shed her Hannah Montana locks for a fierce crop, sat starkers on a wrecking ball, stuck her tongue out approximately 2.5 billion times and made even the staunchest of feminists feel a little bit sorry for Robin Thicke when she twerked all over him at the VMAs.

  • Lorde

  • Eleanor Catton

    In October, 28-year-old Eleanor Catton became the youngest writer to win the Man Booker Prize with her 832-page novel The Luminaries.

    Judges described the work as “dazzling, luminous, vast” with a story that is “quite exceptional”.

  • Angelina Jolie

    In May, Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone a double mastectomy in a bid to stave off breast cancer, which doctors warned she had a high genetic risk of contracting.

    Explaining her decision in The New York Times she wrote: "I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made."

  • Duchess of Cambridge

    Kate Middleton only went and produced the country's future king in August.

    Also, by happily posing with her post-birth bump, she managed to educate a confused, celebrity brain-washed section of Twitter who asked "why does she still look pregnant"?

  • Lauren Silverman

    This time last year Simon Cowell was addressing rumours of a romance with Carmen Electra. Fast-forward 12 months and he's expecting a child with Lauren Silverman.

    The New York socialite came out of nowhere as mother-to-be to bachelor king Cowell's first-born. She is due to give birth in February and may be hoping the baby is a boy: "Simon is the only name I can come up with at the moment that I like," the music producer told Jay Leno.

  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt

    The Danish prime minister got the world in a tiz when she decided to take a 'world leaders selfie' with an obliging Barack Obama and David Cameron this month at Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    When Jennifer Lawrence tripped up in a Dior Couture gown on the way to collect her Oscar in February, she earned her position on the 'women every woman wants to be friends with' list.

    She then cemented this position later in the year with the comment: "If anybody even tries to whisper the word 'diet,' I'm like, 'You can go f*ck yourself'".

  • Malala Yousoufai

    The story of Malala Yousoufai , a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, shocked the world in 2012. She made a remarkable recovery and this year not only released her autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education, she was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Malala was not awarded the honour - a decision that flummoxed Stylist's Outspoken columnist Lucy Mangan.

  • Elise Andrew

    Some people love science, others 'f**king love' science.

    British woman Elise Andrew revealed herself as the person behind the 4-million strong Facebook group when she set up a Twitter account in the summer and was met with a slew of bizarre comments remarking on her "surprising" gender.

  • Lindsey Vonn

    The world’s most famous female skier and America’s big hope for Sochi 2014, Lindsey Vonn broke her lower leg and tore her ACL and MCL at the World Championships in February 2013.

    Then she started going out with Tiger Woods.

    She partially tore her ACL again in November 2013, but will wait to get her knee operated until after the Winter Olympics in February 2014. Like a boss.

  • Margaret Thatcher

    The death of Margaret Thatcher in April prompted a divided reaction - with some hailing the country's first female prime minister as a legendary feminist, while others argued her legacy to be primarily a damaging one.

    Read Stylist's Lucy Mangan and Susan Riley debate on her pros and cons.

  • Doreen Lawrence

    As a justice campaigner, Doreen Lawrence has founded a charitable trust in the name of her murdered son Stephen and has promoted reforms of the police service following an 18-year wait to see his killers brought to justice.

    In October she was made a Liberal Democrat life peer.

  • Caroline Criado-Perez

    When the Bank of England announced earlier this year that Elizabeth Fry would be replaced on the £5 note by Winston Churchill, feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez launched a campaign for female representation across the notes.

    In June, outgoing governor Mervin King said Jane Austen was "quietly waiting in the wings" to replace Charles Darwin on £10 note and the Bank made the news official in July - a move that saw some Twitter users make the campaigner a target for abuse, with a 21-year-old man arrested over rape and death threats.

  • Julia Gillard

    Following an endless stream of gender-specific attacks by country people and peers in Government, Australia's first female prime minister Julia Gillard was ousted in the summer.

    Read Rachel Hills' summary of her fate

  • Mary Barra

    This month, Mary Barra became the first female chief of a major global car-maker when 105-year-old US auto giant General Motors named her as its Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. Pretty cool.

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

    This year, imprisoned Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova embarked on a nine-day hunger strike over poor prison conditions - a move that saw her moved to solitary confinement before being transferred to an isolated prison in Siberia.

    Read Pussy Riot's story

  • Wendi Deng

    She defended husband Rupert Murdoch exceptionally well in the face of a foam pie thrower at his phone hacking testimony in 2011, but sadly the octogenarian and world's most glamorous bodyguard couldn't make their marriage work and the newspaper mogul filed for divorce in June.

    Read 10 things you didn't know about Wendi Deng.

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant.