Visible Women

From Cynthia Nixon to a history-making skater: the women making waves this week

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Moya Crockett
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Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.  

Jameela Jamil continues her crusade against body shaming 

Jameela Jamil has never been shy about expressing herself. As far back as 2013, when she was presenting The Official Chart Show on Radio 1, she wrote an in-depth blog post about her relationship with her breasts, titled A Tale of Two Titties.

But this year, Jamil has become something of a figurehead for the movement against airbrushing, body shaming and the diet industry – even launching a social media campaign, I Weigh, to challenge society’s obsession with female slimness. In a cover story for Stylist in June, she spoke frankly about her decision to criticise Kim Kardashian for promoting weight loss lollipops on her Instagram account. 

“I’m sure it will cost me photoshoots and branding opportunities but how much money do I f*cking need?” she said. “Stop telling women to not eat.”

Jamil has continued spreading the word since then. On Wednesday (29 August), she appeared on Channel 4 News to discuss why it is so important to her to critique messages about how women should look.

“People have made look white in so many of the magazines and campaigns I’ve shot for. That hurts me. That hurts me from a cultural point of view,” she told Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

“Airbrushing and changing my ethnicity is bad for my mental health,” she continued. “It’s not just bad for the mental health of the girls who are looking at it, it makes me then dislike what I’m seeing in the mirror.”

Read more from Jamil’s Channel 4 interview here

Twenty-five-year-old makes skateboarding history 

On Tuesday (28 August), Californian skater Lizzie Armanto became the first woman in history to complete a 360-degree loop first made famous by skating legend Tony Hawk.

Armanto pulled off the gravity-defying stunt at an event in Vista, California. Hawk became the first man to ride a vertical loop 20 years ago, and since then, only 18 skateboarders have completed it.

The loop requires athletes to skate upside down on a circular ramp, keeping their skateboard wheels in contact with the wood.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Armanto wrote on Instagram. Hawk described her skate as “an inspiring display of fierce determination and skill”.

Five-year-old girl wins legal right to wear dreadlocks to school

The girl returned to school on Wednesday (picture posed by models)

Over to Jamaica, where a five-year-old girl has returned to school following a legal battle about whether she should be allowed to attend with her hair in dreadlocks.

The girl, whose first name has not been reported to protect her privacy, was accepted to a private school in a suburb of the Jamaican capital Kingston earlier this year. However, when her mother Sherine Virgo attended an orientation session, she was told she would be required to cut off her daughter’s dreadlocks before the school term started.

Virgo refused, and instead launched a legal challenge against the school with the help of human rights group Jamaicans for Justice. The group argued that Kensington Primary School’s ban on dreadlocks violated the girl’s human rights, including the right to an education, freedom of speech and freedom from official discrimination.

The Jamaican Supreme Court has now ruled in favour of the girl, and she went back to school – dreadlocks intact – on Wednesday (29 August).

“It is our natural hair, it is our nation’s culture and it is what God has blessed us with,” Virgo told The Washington Post.

Cynthia Nixon gets the world talking about “sexist” air conditioning 

Nixon at her debate against Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday (29 August) 

On Tuesday (28 August), Cynthia Nixon – who is currently running for governor of New York – made the unprecedented step of demanding that the air conditioning be set to 22C during her first debate with her opponent.

Nixon’s campaign manager said that she made the request because workspaces are “notoriously sexist when it comes to room temperatures”. Her major rival for the governorship, incumbent Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, also has a reputation for insisting on a chilly environment at his big campaign appearances.

In raising the issue of air conditioning, Nixon highlighted something that substantial research has already confirmed: office buildings are generally heated to a temperature that suits men, not women. She also sparked an international conversation about the ways in which the world is set up to prioritise male comfort.

On Twitter, Nixon said that a woman on the subway had “thanked me for sharing my vision for New York during the debate and for talking about the room temperature - because, as many women know, it’s a thing.” Click here for more feminist highlights from Nixon’s election campaign.

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve made a difference. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images