BBC 100 Woman 2016; Defiance Against All Odds.
As 2016 draws to a close, we see the BBC’s ‘100 Woman’ list, a subject close to our hearts at Royall, appearing on our television screens and news homepages.
What does this mean to us? Royall’s foundations are built on a united vision of an engaged & motivated team of Woman, lead by Founder and Fast Forward 15 Mentor, Jennifer Royall. As we venture on an exciting journey of discovery to a bright future in 2017, Jenny portrays the values of Success and Independence with ease, a natural leader and role model.
Every year the BBC trawls The Globe for the most outstanding woman, all with stories to tell. Some of ground-breaking moments of defiance, others of new takes on fairy tales and not forgetting stories of octogenarian cheerleading, and e-gaming. But one thing is for certain, each and every one of these woman are truly inspirational no matter what their story.
For those who don’t know, 100 Women is an original BBC series that was founded in 2013. This series investigates the role of women in the 21st Century and has included events in London and Mexico, to name a few. With 2016’s theme being ‘Defiance’, the BBC has sought to find inspirational and influential woman worthy of gracing the top 100 list.
American singer/songwriter Alicia Keys whose rise to stardom came from winning 15 Grammys, selling over 30 million records worldwide, is among those listed as well as Vitiligo sufferer and influential model Winnie Harlow. Winnie’s rare skin pigmentation is a disease that causes the loss of skin colour in blotches, but despite this she has gone on to model for Diesel and Swarovski and has starred in Vogue Italia, Glamour and Cosmopolitan to name a few. Also modelling for Barcelona-based casual clothing brand Desigual alongside Brazilian supermodel Adriana.
After watching Alicia’s interview on BBC iplayer, I am left inspired, empowered and proud to be a woman. She is known for her success as a singer/songwriter writing her first song at the tender age of just 11 years old. But over the past two decades as a pop star, she has become an idol, a public figure for girls and woman alike to look up to, recently promoting the #NoMakeUp Campaign where she encourages the female population to strip back the mask and reveal their true selves. A ‘tomboy’ at heart, she was tired of being told when she was growing up to get rid of the leather jackets and Timberland boots and swap it for girly dresses and heels. She showed true Defiance by saying “No” to the male influences that told her so, in the forms of her producers and managers. She wanted to remain true to herself.
In a truly personal section of the interview she reveals how and why the #NoMakeUp campaign came about. “I became overly concerned of other peoples’ opinions of me. It was terribly oppressive”. She also raises the subject of whether woman are judged even before they are born saying “Especially as woman, even before we are born there’s an image and an assumption and pressures that are made to make us think ‘Is this what beauty is?’ or ‘This is what a successful woman is’. Through overcoming these thoughts and feelings she was able to reason with herself and embrace a more natural make up free version of herself and has said she has never felt more free. She believes in ‘variety’ and is adamant to teach her two sons what a variety of people look like, and to respect and treat others with dignity and care. When asked what her success meant to her, she said that she ‘Believes success is personal’ , it means different things to different people and that if she could tell her teenage self anything it would be “Don’t change or concede for anyone and don’t comprise”.
“Success is personal”
Olympic gymnast and winner of 4 golds and 1 bronze medal at The Rio Olympics 2016 and named ‘The Greatest Gymnast of All Time”, Texas born Simone Biles is also featured on the list. Since the age of 6 when her mother took her to a day care centre that had a gym in the back room, she was spotted copying the older girls on the apparatus. The teachers had seen her natural talent and written a letter home to her mother. Simone was then faced with the decision of having to choose between ‘Tumbling’ or ‘Gymnastics’, and we all know what she chose! Although she continued to train, it wasn’t until she hit the age of 12/13 that she realised that gymnastics was going to be her life. From then, her dream of travelling to Italy to compete in their many competitions and her parents always telling her to ‘Strive for perfection’ are what spurred her on to become the woman she is today. Her mother also taught her from a young age, to write down all her goals at the start of the year, she would them let her mother keep them safe and at the end of the year they would get them out and look at them together, seeing what she had achieved from the list and even ones she hadn’t written down!
Despite her fame and training (32 hours a week!) , she still remains the same bouncy, crazy gymnast she’s always been however she is more disciplined now. She’ll be taking some well deserved time off from competing and touring in 2017, but we’ll be seeing her in next to no time at the next Olympics in 2020.
Not all the woman featured in this years list are well-known, some many of us have never heard of. Take for instance Ashwaq Moharram, who when she was younger Ashwaq’s family fled her hometown of Yemen due to the fighting, however she has stayed to help the wounded and injured, using her own car as a mobile clinic to treat them. Not forgetting Isabella Springmuhl Tejada, a Fashion Designer working in Guatemala who has Downs Syndrome. Her designs have been featured in the 2016 London Fashion Week show, with invitations already flooding in from Miami, Chicago and possibly even Paris in the New Year, she is doing extremely well across the pond.
The program, concentrating on key subjects such as education, healthcare, equal pay between genders, FGM, domestic violence cases, and sexual abuse has been inspiring woman for over three years and will continue to as long as powerful females are on the rise!
EILEEN FISHER, FASHION DESIGNER
“Life-fulfilling work is never about the money – when you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.”