March 6, 2020

Aparna Nethaji

In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos says "The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases." And even to this day, Nia Vardalos was right. The movie portrays Nia, a nerd growing up in an Orthodox Greek household, who with the help of other women in her family, blossoms into a beautiful woman who's changed the direction of her family's traditional norms. This may be a small deed for some,? but for the conservative Greek community, women like Nia make an impact. Women play a huge role in the community, whether they're in the public eye with their men, or as a suburban soccer mom making every day possible for the kids.

Men who publicly display their gratitude for the women of the house like Barack Obama, who stated in a 2013 Vogue interview, "There's no doubt I'm a better man having spent time with Michelle", makes it clear women have always silently reigned supreme, and with a solid support system, will continue to do so. With mutual respect, understanding and love, women are motivated to be better wives and mothers, ultimately redefining empowerment in their own special way. We're recalling history's most influential women and how they shaped the future and looked good doing it.

Queen Elizabeth II

Mother of 4 and married to Prince Philip, the oldest-ever male member of the royal family, made Queen Elizabeth the longest-serving monarch in British history. Along with many medals of honours and military awards, Elizabeth also enlisted in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during WWII allowing women to voluntarily fight for the war. During the king's absence, 18-year-old Elizabeth became head of state during the invasion of Italy in 1944. At age 25, she became queen. Her beauty in her young age and long years in royalty makes Queen Elizabeth the most powerful woman in modern history. Her style is nostalgic of 1940's practicality: knee-length skirts, suited blazer coats to match, and a hat. She's known for colourful palettes to help her stand out in a crowd.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

As an ambassador for Canada's World Vision Clean Water campaign, Meghan started her journey into humanitarian work early on. Her personal blog, "The Tig" spoke of women empowerment in fashion dressing. Meghan is also a United Nations women's advocate and she gave a speech at the UN Women's 2015 conference. And on a side note, Meghan is related to William Shakespeare. Based on a report of her ancestral roots, Meghan is a descendant of the famous poet. Married to Prince Harry, Princess Diana?s son, Meghan was the first royal bride to walk down the aisle unescorted. Much like Princess Diana, Meghan also loves to break the rules of royal guidelines, like holding hands with Harry in public. Her style is copied worldwide, simple clean lines, neutral colour palettes and tons of pencil skirts. Being a major fashion icon, whatever Meghan wears gets sold out the next day at retailers.
Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles of Wales

When we think of influential women who changed the norms of political correctness, Princess Diana's name is on the tip of every tongue. Diana, married to Prince Charles, the heir to the royal throne, was known as "the people's princess," breaking the barrier between the royal family and the public with her love and affection towards the less fortunate, as the royal family were always unapproachable. Diana was known for breaking the rules: not wearing gloves when visiting shelter and hospitals, being emotionally honest in the public eye, and even taking the kids to McDonald's. Today Harry and William don't wear gloves when meeting the general public and have married ordinary women to break the royal norm. Her style was everything between relaxed 90s suits and dresses to daring outfits like "The Revenge Dress" and even sweatshirts and bicycle shorts.
Cleopatra and Marc Antony

While many see Cleopatra as the beautiful "winged-liner" Egyptian queen, she was actually known for her many achievements. She was the last active Pharaoh of Egypt. She stabilised her power and kingdom, changing the politics of Egypt and Western civilizations. She led a fleet at the naval Battle of Actium, where she failed and the Roman Empire in Egypt rose to power. She was influential enough to provide finances and supplies to Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, her lover and husband respectively. Her power was so great, she was the archenemy of the first Roman emperor Augustus. Later, with her defeat, Augustus changed her reputation into an immoral sexualised foreign woman who enticed Roman men, when in reality, Cleopatra was very politically powerful in her time. She and Mark Antony later chose suicide than submission to Augustus. Cleopatra wore form-flattering fashion, customary to ancient Egyptian royalty: long, light and airy sheath dresses, blue and green eyeshadow, black kohl, red lipstick, henna, short shiny black hair, the eye of Horus amulet necklaces, string bead necklaces, bracelets and headdresses. She was a trendsetter for pairing plain white dresses with stunning jewellery and makeup.
Michelle Obama and Barack Obama

The first-ever African-American first lady of the United States and lawyer, writer, and activist for poverty, healthy living, and education, Michelle Obama is the ideal role model for the black community. She's also a fashion icon of the current decade. Married to Barack Obama, the first-ever African-American president, Michelle was a significant voice of the troubles of modern life: motherhood, obesity, young women's education, and wifehood as written in her memoir, Becoming, a personal reckoning of her soul and her time on earth. Rather than being just the first lady, her achievements have made her "Michelle's husband," as Barack sees it. Michelle Obama's look is the perfect "married, middle-class mom" with wide-leg trouser pants, monochromatic suit separates, abstract prints, embroidery, and tons of A-line dresses.
Amal Clooney and George Clooney

British-Lebanese human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney was one of the Middle East's most influential women long before she was married to George Clooney. With her experience, she defended the rights of imprisoned journalists and Yazidi women abused under ISIS. Being beautiful was never beneficial to her, with the public noting her for her looks and fashion. Amal turned that focus around to bring awareness to the abuses in human rights around the world. Escaping the civil war in 1982 made Amal a refugee in the UK. Now with a degree in law, Amal is defending the interests of the Lebanese people. In the Netherlands, she joined the Office of the Prosecutor during the Special Tribunal For Lebanon investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri in 2005. She and George started the Clooney Foundation for Justice where victims of war can find justice. Her power dressing includes sheath dresses, long-line silhouettes in jumpsuits and dresses, trench coats, and 1950s inspired suit separates.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline Kennedy, married to John F. Kennedy, known for establishing the Peace Corps, was one of the most iconic first ladies. Jacqueline made significant and glamourous adjustments during her time in the White House. Her story begins as a young reporter for the Washington Times-Herald where she would interview strangers about personal finance and love and relationships. After becoming the first lady, she renovated the White House, creating a Fine Arts Committee where she collected antiques and artefacts from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Soon after, she opened a kindergarten school in the White House. With an appreciation of culture, linguistics and the arts, Jacqueline was proud of her cultured sense of taste. Her style was very old Hollywood, emphasizing her hourglass figure with A-line skirts, shift dresses, and ladylike 1950s suits.
Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway

Martha Gellhorn was known for her "groundbreaking journalism " with a powerful voice against the conflicts caused by the rich and powerful. She was a war reporter covering major conflicts for more than 60 years. Her work was often compared to Hemingway's, with negative remarks on her writing style. She fought against the impartiality she received from voicing herself and revealing the truth behind her travels. She literally wrote what she saw, which was controversial in reality. Her novels were infamous for the reality behind the Great Depression, her treks across China with Hemingway in 1940, the Arab-Israeli conflict, crossing the border from France into Spain alone, smuggling herself into Panama, and even when British pilots let her ride along on the night bombing raids over Germany. She was a chain-smoker, eating and drinking as she pleased. She was notorious for walking out on an argument with Hemingway, being the first woman to ever leave him because of his bullying and frustration by her ambition. She divorced him and he never forgave her, but her voice continued to be honest and daring in a man's world, where she placed a woman's angle into war stories. She is commended for courage and grace under fire. Martha never intended to be a voice for feminism, she only wanted to report the tales of the people of WWII. Her look was very glam: curly blonde hair, pearls, collared sheath dresses and layering pieces like a cardigan.
Marie Curie and Pierre Curie

Scientist and physicist Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in radioactivity in 1903. She won another Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911. Being denied education at the University of Warsaw, she pursued her education at an underground education movement in Warsaw. She married her professor at the School of Physics and Chemistry, Pierre Curie. Together, they discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. Pierre was later killed by horse and cart and Marie became the first female professor to teach at a college. She continued with the research Pierre left behind. Upon her second Nobel Prize, she pursued research on finding the cure for cancer. She also created a mobile X-ray unit that analysed shrapnel in the wounds of WWI soldiers. With years of being exposed to radiation and radioactive test tubes, she died of aplastic anemia. While fashion may have never been a focus in her life's pursuits, Marie did sport stylish silhouettes women can wear today. Her look was interesting, as she never wore a lab-coat, but dressed professionally in traditional 1900s athletic dresses with long lines, high collars and waist-cinching belts.