This month’s edition of Marie Claire magazine came with a much appreciated feature on black women who are using their influence to challenge and change the status quo (basically all the -isms) that plagues this capitalist, classist, homophobic, misogynist, patriarchal society that we navigate daily. Among the womxn featured in the six page editorial spread are Milisuthando Bongela, Taryn Gill, Janine Jellars, Tshego Senne, Panashe Chigumadzi, Gugu Mhlungu, Sisonke Msimang, Pontsho Pilane and Laura Windvogel.
Sarah Koopman, Features Editor at Marie Claire at the time that this feature was done, talked to us about the thinking behind showcasing black womxn as the leaders in thought dissemination in what can be called a time of re-thinking about the ways that, as a people, we were taught to socialize ourselves in the world:
Melenial: What was the original concept behind the editorial?
Sarah: Towards the end of 2015, there was a new wave of social awareness and commentary happening in South Africa. Issues affecting women were in the spotlight and were getting more critical engagement and attention. We were seeing this engagement and attention coming from strong female voices in the South African media landscape and wanted to give these women the recognition they so rightly deserved. Inspired by similar projects done by international editions of Marie Claire – who were shining a light on women in different spheres who were blazing new trails in their respective fields – we decided to shoot and interview the list of women we had selected in a beautiful editorial that carried the Marie Claire identity of ‘Think Smart, Look Amazing’.
How did you select these women?
In a way, the list wrote itself! We knew the focus was going to be on South African women who were unafraid to speak up against the status quo and start the difficult conversations about what it means to be a woman in South Africa today. With that in mind, we brainstormed as a team and developed a list of women in different fields – from broadcasting to art and beauty – who are taking strides towards creating spaces, products and media that is inclusive and representative of the intersectionality of South African women.
I suppose to answer a question with a question, one may say ‘why not now?’. It felt like the right time, without the feature needing to ride on the back of a specific awareness day or month. We are celebrating women who deserve to be celebrated and what better time to do so than right now? 🙂
If you have not yet, do pick up the March Marie Claire in your local spaza shop. If that doesn’t work, make that trip to Woolworths, fam. This editorial is well worth it.