Right now, fashion is in one of its most political phases in history, from designers’ endorsements of Hillary Clinton back in October to the politically charged collections we saw for Fall 2017. Also of note? Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri unveiling that famous “We Should All Be Feminists” T-shirt during her Spring 2017 show, while author and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who wrote an essay with the same title, watched from the front row. Rihanna, another unapologetic feminist, would go on to collaborate with Dior to donate a portion of sales from the T-shirt to her charity. Now that’s girl power.
While the lines between activism and, well, commercial opportunity are often blurred, it’s fair to say that many within the fashion industry are attempting to use their influence to raise awareness and affect change. The CFDA is no exception. At this year’s CFDA Fashion Awards, set for June 5, the Board of Directors’ Tribute honor (which last year went to the late David Bowie), will be bestowed upon Gloria Steinem, Janelle Monáe, and Cecile Richards for their work in fighting for women’s rights.
“Many things are happening in the country right now, and some things we are less proud of than others. The day of the Women’s March, three women came out so strongly, and it was such a wonderful trio, so we would like to honor them,” CFDA chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg said in a statement.
The women in this badass trifecta were major players during the march in January, and each has used her respective platform to champion women’s rights, from Steinem's work in journalism with Ms. magazine to Richards' tireless efforts as president of Planned Parenthood. Below, we break down the reasons why we've crowned the trio as our Badass Bitches of the Week.
Steinem has been deemed a pioneer of the feminist movement. As a journalist, writer, and activist, she helped found New York magazine in the '60s and the National Women’s Political Caucus in the '70s. In addition launching another magazine, Ms., the first publication to run a cover story on domestic abuse, Steinem has authored numerous essays on the feminist movement such as “After Black Power” and “Women’s Liberation,” as well as writing a book, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem. Recently, she became the host of WOMAN, a show on Viceland that explores the role of women today and gender-based violence worldwide. During the March, she gave a powerful speech that targeted President Trump’s policies against reproductive rights, talked about the importance of Hillary Clinton, and said that the power is within the people. "Remember," she told the crowd, "the Constitution doesn’t begin with, 'I, the president.' It begins with, 'We, the people."
Monáe is a lady of many hats: a singer, a songwriter, an actress, and the CEO of her record label, Wondaland Records. This year, the multihyphenate appeared on the big screen in Academy Award-winning films like Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Monáe first appeared on the music scene with her EP Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) in 2007, and she’s been nominated for the Grammy Awards six different times. In 2015, she unveiled a collaboration with makeup giant CoverGirl and has remained an ambassador of the brand since. At the March, Monáe shared the stage with mothers of slain African Americans killed by police brutality while singing her powerful anthem, "Hell You Talmbout."
Richards has been instrumental in pro-choice activism. Before becoming president of Planned Parenthood in 2006, the tireless champion of women’s reproductive rights worked alongside Nancy Pelosi as deputy chief of staff, and also founded America Votes, a group of 42 grassroots organizations advocating for voter participation and education. Since she took the reins at Planned Parenthood, the non-profit's reach has doubled to seven million supporters. Last season during New York fashion week, the CFDA partnered with Planned Parenthood for an initiative to raise awareness about women's rights under the Trump administration. (The hot pink buttons were seen at many a show.) At the March, she delivered a powerful speech and pledged to keep the doors at Planned Parenthood open, regardless of the political right's threats to defund it. It’s worth noting that Richards is the daughter of the late Ann Richards, the second female governor of Texas and another devout feminist.
Come Monday night, it will be hard to remain in our seats while we give a well-deserved round of applause to this year’s honorees—and our Badass Bitches of the Week.