Stylist is running its first ever feminist advent calendar in 2018, with a remarkable woman revealing who her feminist icon is every day until 25 December. Here, Rosie Day reveals why Caitlin Moran is her ultimate feminist icon.
When asked to write about my feminist icon, I immediately thought, ‘but how can I choose just ONE?’ I have at least 25 at any one time! So I decided to think about it in literal terms: after my incredible mum, who taught me the most about feminism? Well…
I was 13 when my Dad handed me the newspaper. “I think you’ll like this,” he said.
A messy-haired, Dr. Marten clad woman stared back at me. It was ME as an ADULT! (It wasn’t) It was Caitlin Moran, photographed alongside her weekly column in The Times. Now, it’s 10 years later and I still look to her words for guidance on a regular basis. Knowingly or not, she is responsible for teaching a whole generation of girls about feminism. Her debut book, How to be a Woman, changed the way I saw the world. I was empowered, educated, and ready to call myself a feminist. I wasn’t the only one – as of July 2014, the book had sold over a million copies.
Raised in Wolverhampton, and home-schooled, she started her career as journalist aged just 15. She started out at a weekly music magazine, called Melody Maker, and fast became a multi-award-winning writer. Her writing provides the armour for women everywhere to be bold, fearless, self-loving and unashamedly themselves. It also asks all the important questions: Do men have to put up with this crap? How do we make the world a better place for everyone? And how can a biscuit and a cup of tea magically solve most crises…?
She addresses taboos that need to be busted, and breaks them down harder than Miley on a wrecking ball. Abortion, mental health, gynaecology, and politics – she handles each subject with a tactile knowledge, wit, and a whole load of humour. There is a humanity in her writing that makes her relatable, and she navigates the world seemingly on behalf of all women, making her an undisputed queen of feminism in 2018.
“Buy flowers – or if you are poor, steal one from someone’s garden; the world owes you that much at least: blossom – and put them at the end of the bed. When you wake, look at it, and tell yourself you are the kind of person who wakes up and sees flowers. This stops your first thought being, ‘I fear today. Today is the day maybe I cannot survive anymore’, which I know is what you would otherwise think. Thinking about blossom before you think about terror is what girls must always do, in the Bad Years.”
I met Caitlin at her book tour at The South Bank Centre, when I was in the middle of a tough time, and I was terrified of meeting the woman whose writing felt like home. She embraced me and whispered something in my ear. It may sound dramatic but it kept me afloat for the next few months. I went home grinning from ear to ear.
Now that I’m older, I realise she must have done that to millions of girls on her tour. But what a thing to do. To bolster girls and women, to collectively reassure, inspire, and help them. Not because she has to, but because it’s innate to her. I hope I get to thank her one day, but until then I’ll continue to buy flowers and wear Dr. Martens in homage to my feminist icon.
Watership Down will air as two feature-length episodes on BBC1 on Saturday 22 December at 7pm and Sunday 23 December at 7.20pm and Living The Dream returns to Sky One Tuesday 8th January at 9pm