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Advice From 30 Years Of Women Who Have Reshaped The World

Long before the 1991 “girl power” slogan was credited to US punk band Bikini Kill, and then popularized in the mainstream by the Spice Girls in the mid-1990s, Glamour magazine for more than 80 years was the sole resource and go-to as “the preeminent female empowerment title in America.”

Glamour’s origin as the ground breaking magazine “for the girl with a job” (yes, that was ground breaking for most of the past century) paved the way for women to pursue self empowerment transforming so many of us today into strong, ambitious women who have always taken center stage as our rightful place.

As part of the storied title’s legacy, Glamour’s annual Women of the Year Awards, launched in 1990, has continually embodied and celebrated the progress of the sisterhood. It has done this by connecting all of us to the success stories of an incredible cadre of Wonder Women who have helped pave the way. The annual awards have recorded a 30-year living, breathing history, mapping out the evolution of women’s power across the worlds of film, politics, sports, activism, and more.

Now in a lead up to International Women’s Day, Glamour is showcasing three decades of Glamour’s Women of the Year in the release of a new coffee table book Glamour: 30 Years of Women Who Have Reshaped the World. It is a stunningly visceral and emotional record of the ceiling-shattering achievements that have impacted our world and a manual for success for the women of today—and tomorrow.

Glamour’s dynamic and inspiring Editor in Chief Samantha Barry, who wrote the book introduction shared how, “This book captures three decades of Glamour’s Women of the Year, from world leaders, to women enacting change within their local communities—and is a testament to all that women can do, and have achieved.” The objective was to “commemorate the honorees, their shared life lessons, and wisdom,” and “serve as inspiration for every woman to believe in the power of their own ability, because Glamour’s honorees have reshaped the world we live in today, and so can you.”

Why is this important right now? On the heels of Madame Vice President Kamala Harris (a 2018 Glamour honoree) shattering the glass ceiling and also giving women everywhere the empowering mantra “I’m Speaking,” it’s important we turn to our heroines for advice that has stood the test of several decades.

These cross-generational pearls of wisdom of have been cataloged into distinct, relatable groups including practical advice from change makers on how to create change when the odds seemed stacked against them, to what it takes to become a champion and “pioneer in every sense of the word,” to how to use your voice to change the world and make a difference. Below is a small sampling of great advice that has stood the test of time from great women whose words inspire and just might change the trajectory of your career.

Create Change. If the odds seem stacked against you, remember all these women “had to start somewhere” to inspire change.

  • Find Your Crew. Feminist, journalist, author and Glamour 2011 Woman Of The Year Gloria Steinem advised three things. “One, trust your own voice. Two, do what you love. And three have a group, maybe 5 to 12 people, who share your values, who make you feel smart-and get together with them at least once a month.
  • Always Be Learning. Oral Lee Brown, Education Activist and Glamour 2002 Woman Of The Year reflected, “When I was younger, I realized that education is everything. It gives you choices.” It’s advice worth pursuing. It is a catalyst that can continually move your career and options forward for a lifetime.
  • Take Action. This is powerful. Zendaya, actor and 2016 Woman Of The Year, encourages and embodies ,“When you see something happening, you don’t just stand there. Knowing that something is wrong and not doing anything is like doing it. You have to learn to appreciate yourself and the power you hold. Whatever is inside you—your soul, your power—find it. See it. Respect it. Protect it. And use it.”

Become A Champion. The women athletes Glamour has honored over the past decades are pioneers in ever sense. By being champions for themselves “they’ve broken records, won countless medals and surpassed their rivals as fierce fighters for causes they believe in.” Here’s what empowers them and may empower you.

  • Trust In Your Abilities. She means this to her core and so should you. Tennis player and 2009 Woman Of The Year Serena Williams advises “The most important belief is self-belief and self-love. If you have that, you can achieve anything you set out to do.” Practice what Williams preaches. It could take you a lot of great places in life.
  • Embrace Failure. This is astute wisdom worth absorbing from Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and 2016 Woman Of The Year who counsels, “I’d rather regret the risk that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.”
  • Think Bigger Than Yourself. Looking outward is just as important as looking inward. Billie Jean King, former tennis player and 2005 Women Of The Year defines it for all of us by exemplifying “To me, true champions lift up others.”

Use Your Voice. Just like these bold, barrier-breaking women, stand up and speak out in order to make a difference. They may all come “from vastly different backgrounds but they all share one thing in come: they inspire us.

  • Do Your Research. This is a great rule to follow. Ava Duvernay, 2019 Woman Of The Year shared, “You can’t disrupt what you don’t understand. But once you understand, perhaps you engage with these things differently, no matter who you are.”
  • Find Others With Common Goals. Janelle Monae, a 2018 Women Of The Year honoree recommends, “We, as Americans, as women and as sisters, have an opportunity to join together to turn the volume up on love.”
  • Share Your Experience. This can take many forms but the point that Woman Of The Year Maya Angelou relates is “When a person is going through hell, and she encounters someone who went through hellish hell and survived, then she can say: Mine is not so bad as all that. She came through and so can I.” You can gain and give strength to yourself and others by understanding someone else’s experiences. Be a great listener, be empathetic, and share your experiences. These are attributes that can help build important skills and relationships in your personal and professional life as everyone struggles in different ways.

With a forward by by Yara Shahidi, the book also includes original content from Shonda Rhimes, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna Huffington, and more. Most importantly, it offers inspiration and service, reminding us all, in the words of 2015 Women of the Year honoree Reese Witherspoon, “ambition is not a dirty word.” Barry seconds that sentiment by acknowledging, “Every single year I learn something new about women’s power. And this book is a testament to what we can all achieve when we work together.” That’s exactly the essence of International Women’s Day and how together we are reshaping our world for the better.

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