Legit good thing #1: Canadian women kill it at the Olympics
Canadian women absolutely dominated at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning 16 of Team Canada’s 22 medals. But no one shined as brightly as our youngest medal winner, 16-year-old swimmer Penny Oleksiak. The Torontonian claimed four medals and, in the process, obliterated a bunch of Canadian swimming records—plus she was just named Canada’s Athlete of the Year 2016. #BowDown
Legit good thing #2: Barbie looks less Barbie-ish
The Barbie world got a little more inclusive in January, when Mattel introduced a new line Barbie Fashionistas dolls that come in four body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” Evelyn Mazzocco, Mattel’s senior vice president and Barbie’s global general manager.
Legit good thing #3: Our $10 bill gets an upgrade
For the first time in Canadian history, a woman (other than the Queen) will be on our currency. The Bank of Canada selected civil rights activist Viola Desmond as the new face of the $10 bill, which will be put into circulation in 2018. Desmond was jailed and fined in 1946 after she refused to relocate from the whites-only section of a local movie theatre, and was instrumental in ending racial segregation in Canada.
Legit good thing #4: This Disney princess doesn’t need a prince, thanks
Disney’s latest animated feature Moana isn’t its first to feature a strong female lead, but it might just be its most feminist film yet. There is no love interest; no man comes to fight her battles; and no one questions that Moana, as daughter of the chief, would make a great leader. As The Daily Beast put it: “Moana is enough of a heroine to fill her own story, and that’s a crucial takeaway that Disney and other studios have taken far too long to embrace.”
Legit good thing #5: A Chinese athlete talks about her period like it’s NBD
After the Chinese women’s swim team just missed out on an Olympic medal in the relay, swimmer Fu Yuanhui told an interviewer that she felt she let her teammates down. “It’s because I just got my period yesterday, so I’m still a bit weak and really tired,” she said. “But this isn’t an excuse for not swimming well.” Mentioning menstruation is a huge deal for an athlete from a country where only two percent of women use tampons and any discussion of periods is taboo.
Legit good thing #6: Marvel gets a new boss babe superhero
When it came to picking a successor to Iron Man, Marvel surprised us all by creating Riri Williams — a black, 15-year-old engineering genius from Chicago who studies at MIT and builds her armour in her dorm.
Legit good thing #7: A massively successful feminist author is the face of a beauty company
Award-winning Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—whose TED Talk, “We Should All Be Feminists,” cameos in Beyoncé’s “Flawless”—was tapped by Boots to be the face of their makeup brand No.7. Some people think it’s a contradiction to love makeup and be a proud feminist; not Adichie. “Women have learnt to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female, such as fashion and makeup.” She added, “It’s about a culture that diminishes women.”
Legit good thing #8: Amal Clooney and Nadia Murad stand up to ISIS
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is representing ISIS survivor Nadia Murad on behalf of the estimated 5,000 Yazidi victims who have been enslaved, trafficked and killed by ISIS. The case will be brought to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Legit good thing #9: Women dominate the Giller Prize list
Of the six finalists shortlisted for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize, a $100,000 prize for Canadian authors, five were women. The title and cash ultimately went to Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing.
Legit good thing #10: London cracks down on unhealthy bodies in ads
London mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to remove all subway ads that pressure people to conform to unhealthy or unrealistic body standards. “As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising, which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies,” Khan said. “It is high time it came to an end.”
Legit good thing #11: The first woman (from, okay, a major party) runs for US president
So Hillary Clinton is not actually the first woman to run for president of the United States, but she is the first to be nominated by a major political party. And although she wasn’t able to smash that hardest, highest glass ceiling, her candidacy (and the fact she won the popular vote) made a pretty significant crack.
Legit good thing #12: The number of women of colour in the U.S. Senate quadruples
The night of the election may have been the most depressing one of the entire year, but it wasn’t all terrible news. Hawaii representative Mazie Hirono will be joined by Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth, California’s Kamala Harris, and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, boosted the number of women of colour to four, all Democrats.
Legit good thing #13: Soccer players take aim at the gender pay gap
Even though the American women’s soccer team far outperforms their male counterparts, they’re paid less, play on lousy fields and don’t have the right to strike—so five female players filed a lawsuit fighting for equal pay. Canada’s women’s soccer team also tackled pay inequity, creating the first-ever player’s union to help protect and promote their rights.
Legit good thing #14: All-female reboots are coming to theatres
This year’s Ghostbusters revamp had all the classic signs of a summer blockbuster: a big film franchise, A-list celebs and tons of action. But one thing set it apart: the all-female leading cast. Plans for an all-female remake of Ocean’s Eleven, called Ocean’s Eight, have been announced, and we’re already excited for it to hit theatres in 2018.
Legit good thing #15: Brands go unretouched
Big-name brands like Aerie and Victoria Secret did away with Photoshop this year. Even the 2017 Pirelli Calendar followed suit, shooting actresses from Helen Mirren to Lupita Nyong’o to Penélope Cruz as they are.
Legit good thing #16: Women take to social media to talk about assault
The headlines may have been dominated by the actions of Jian Ghomeshi, Brock Turner and Donald Trump, but this year, social media was filled with hashtags like #ibelievesurvivors, #pussygrabsback and #notokay, where women fought back by opening up the conversation around sexual assault and showing victims that they are not alone.
Legit good thing #17: Canada gets its first female Indigenous surgeon
After becoming Canada’s first female indigenous surgeon, B.C.’s Nadine Caron used her position to create awareness for indigenous health issues and generate greater resources for northern communities. “I think we’re at a crossroads,” Caron said. “I think we have some amazing leaders, indigenous and non-indigenous. I think that we have some amazing choices to make as a country. I think we can change things.”
Legit good thing #18: Women wearing hijabs gain more visibility
This year, despite growing Islamaphobia around the world, Colorado’s Nura Afia became CoverGirl’s first hijab-wearing ambassador, Toronto’s Ginella Massa anchored a major Canadian newscast in a hijab and a 19-year-old Miss Minnesota contestant wore a burkini for the swimsuit component of the beauty pageant. “If you just have a problem with what I’m wearing, that’s not really my problem, it’s yours,” Massa said.
Legit good thing #19: Dior hires its first female creative director
Maria Grazia Chiuri may be new to Dior, but she is not new to fashion. The former co-creative director of Valentino joined the French design house in June, becoming one of just a few female creative directors in the male-dominated fashion industry.
Legit good thing #20: Women can now surf one of the sport’s biggest competitions
Half Moon Bay, Cali., is home to some of the world’s most dangerous waves, which can swell to more than 18m high. And for the first time in its 17-year history, the elite surfing competition Titans of Mavericks allowed women to take part after female surfers lobbied for their right to ride the waves. The 2016 event recognized that, as Mavericks’ COO Brian Waters said, “Titans can be men or women.”
Legit good thing #21: The no-makeup trend takes off
Whether she’s on Insta, the red carpet, or The Voice, Alicia Keys now keeps her face au naturel. After her election defeat, Hillary Clinton—who has criticized the “hair and makeup tax” imposed on women in high-powered positions—ditched makeup entirely. It’s another step toward respecting women for who they are, not how they look.
Legit good thing #22: Rihanna makes shoe history
Rihanna won this year’s Shoe of the Year award at the Footwear News Achievement Awards for her collab with Puma—making her the first woman to take home the hardware in the prize’s 30-year history.
Legit good thing #23: The United State of Women forms
The White House hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit in June. The event brought together 5,000 attendees, numerous women’s organizations and a long list of big-name celebs, including the Obamas and Oprah, to discuss rape culture, the gender pay gap, pluralism and tolerance and more.
Legit good thing #24: Emoji get more interesting
Google and Apple joined the 21st century by creating some badass female emoji (like an engineer, construction worker and police officer) to go along with the bride and princess characters. Google said, “We hope these updates help make emoji just a little more representative of the millions of people around the world who use them.”
Legit good thing #25: Justin Trudeau is for sure a feminist
After appointing Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet in 2015, Justin Trudeau made it even clearer this year that, yes, he is a feminist. “It’s simply saying that I believe in the equality of men and women and that we still have an awful lot of work to do to get there,” Trudeau said at a UN conference in March. “That’s like saying the sky is blue and the grass is green.” From becoming a He For She ambassador to responding to France’s burkini ban by standing up for a woman’s right to choose what she wears to launching an inquiry into Canada’s thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women, Trudeau didn’t just say he was a feminist—he acted like one.