New Disney initiative supports female filmmakers

Women have a story to tell, and this new Disney initiative is showcasing just that.

According to Variety, Disney’s new “Dream Big Princess” project has “has selected 21 girls and women from 13 countries to develop digital short films about women who inspire them.”

In addition to giving female filmmakers the opportunity to tell stories about the influential women in their lives that work in industries ranging from entertainment and sports to government and science, Variety also says that they will participate in professional workshops that include a “training session with Apple technical experts, mentorship from the female-led production company Summerjax, and meetings with Disney film veterans.”

All shot on iPhone X cameras, each filmmaker’s project will be shared on Disney social media starting on Oct. 10, says Variety, and with each like and share of the films with the hashtag #DreamBigPrincess, Disney will donate $1 to the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, which empowers and positions girls all over the world to be leaders.

One of the film’s subjects, Disney CCO Jennifer Lee, who Variety says won an animated feature Oscar for “Frozen,” says the Dream Big Princess initiative serves as an extension of Disney’s mission to inspire kids.

“Using the journeys of characters like Anna, Elsa and Moana to inspire kids to dream big is at the very heart of what all of us at Disney do,” Lee said, according to Variety. “The #DreamBigPrincess series is the perfect extension of that vision, providing a powerful platform for the next generation of aspiring filmmakers to create content about the women who have inspired them.”

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Dunham deconstructs before-and-after photos, all in name of body positivity

Lena Dunham is never afraid to make a point, and she did just that recently, this time using her own photos.

According to HuffPost, the actor and “Girls” showrunner took to Instagram to post two side-by-side photos that illustrated how her body has changed in the past few years. In the caption, HuffPost says she used the space to discuss how each difference in her body came with a difference in her mindset — and vice versa.

“On the left: 138 pounds, complimented all day and propositioned by men and on the cover of a tabloid about diets that work. Also, sick in the tissue and in the head and subsisting only on small amounts of sugar, tons of caffeine and a purse pharmacy,” she wrote. “On the right: 162 pounds, happy joyous & free, complimented only by people that matter for reasons that matter, subsisting on a steady flow of fun/healthy snacks and apps and entrees, strong from lifting dogs and spirits”

Showing that being thinner doesn’t always mean that someone is happier (or healthier), HuffPost says Dunham ended her post by admitting that sometimes she looks at the ‘before’ picture “longingly,” even as an “OG body positivity warrior.” But then she “sometimes looks at the left picture longingly, until I remember the impossible pain that brought me there and onto my proverbial knees.”

Ending on the words, “As I type I can feel my back fat rolling up under my shoulder blades. I lean in,” encouraging all of us to “lean in” to who we are and accept ourselves as we are.

Graham, Elesser bring ‘body revolution’ to ‘Vogue Arabia’

If being comfortable in your own skin is a revolution, these two models can bring their revolution to every corner of the globe — and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

According to Cosmopolitan, models Ashley Graham and Paloma Elesser are sharing the cover of Vogue Arabia‘s July/August issue, dubbed their “Body Revolution” issue as it boasts “The best summer looks to celebrate all shapes.” While both look just as stunning in silver in their shared cover as they do in their close-up solo covers, what they said inside the magazine is just as eye-catching.

Cosmo says Graham discussed how she believes making people feel good and comfortable in their own skin is something of a “calling” for her.

“My mother told me that when I walked into a room, I would greet every single person — even at three years old. It was more of an emotion that I would give people, and it would leave them feeling good about who they are,” she explained. “I think that’s what I’m doing today: letting women know that they are worthy, that they are beautiful, and that they can be happy with who they are in their skin.”

Elesser, however, took her turn to describe how she has come to accept herself, which has everything to do with how she manages her feelings about her body and nothing to do with changing who she is.

“The feelings that I have about my body today aren’t very different from the way I felt about it in first grade,” she said, according to Cosmo. “What has changed is the way I navigate those feelings.”

 

Model makes history closing Chanel Haute Couture show

Imagine if a single walk could make history — for one model, it did.

According to ELLE, Sudanese model Adut Akech Bior made history as the second black model ever to close out a Chanel Couture Show after she was hand-selected by creative director Karl Lagerfeld to close out the fashion house’s Fall 2018 show in Paris.  Dressed in a ” mint green two-piece tweed suit featuring a foliage pattern, embellished with sequins on the front of the jacket and along the sides of the skirt,” ELLE says Bior became the second only to fellow Sudanese model Alek Wek, who accomplished the feat in 2004.

Taking to Instagram to share some photos of her historic walk, ELLE says Bior expressed her gratitude for the opportunity — and for the chance to see her dreams come true right before her eyes.

“Cannot believe I just made history by being Chanel’s second black couture bride, this is one of my most proudest achievement!!! @karllagerfeld @amandaharlech@aurelieduclos and the whole Chanel team thank you so much from the deepest bottom of my heart for once again believing in me,” she wrote. “It was a life time honour being the chosen bride to close your beautiful show in the MOST breathtaking dress I have ever seen in my life. This was just a special moment that I will always remember and cherish for as long as I live.”

 

 

U.S. Open changes pregnancy leave penalty

After Serena Williams returned to the court of the French Open following her maternity leave for daughter Alexis Olympia, the world-renowned athlete entered the tournament at a ranking of No. 453 — where she was previously ranked at No. 1; but now, Glamour reports that the backlash from the move has caused the U.S. Open to revisit and revise their rules.

According to Glamour, the French Open organization has “now spoken out to announce a change in post-maternity protocol, one that will no longer penalize any female player returning to the sport after pregnancy.” But that’s not all: the U.S. Open is also making similar changes, says Glamour, “creating a special protection on seedings for women who return to the sport post-pregnancy.”

In an interview with the New York TimesGlamour says U.S. Tennis Association (which oversees the U.S. Open) president and chairwoman Katrina Adams not only explained the decision as the “right thing to do,” but also as a move toward achieving social parity.

“We are all about social justice and equality, and this is definitely an instance of equality,” she said. “We think it’s a good message for our current female players and future players: It’s OK to go out and be a woman and become a mother and then come back to your job, and I think that’s a bigger message.”

Also the bigger message: making sure Williams gets her due as one of the best athletes of all time.

“Serena Williams is arguably the greatest player to ever play, with 23 Grand Slam titles,” Adams continued, according to Glamour. “She deserves the respect to be put in that position.”

Rodriguez uses Emmy money to send undocumented student to college

Gina Rodriguez is using the money that would otherwise be spent on Emmys “For Your Consideration” campaigns and giving to the worthiest of causes: education.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the “Jane the Virgin” star convinced her show’s network, The CW, to use her portion of the “FYC spend toward a college scholarship for an undocumented high school student.”

A member of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s board of directors, EW says Rodriguez partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles to “locate a Latinx high school student who plans to attend Princeton University in the fall,” allowing the student to “complete a four-year degree without financial burden.”

For Rodriguez, the attempt to do something for the Latinx community is natural, even one that has been encouraged by showrunners.

Our show has always jumped at any opportunity to help me do something for the Latinx community,” said Rodriguez, EW reports. “So I asked my showrunner, Jennie [Snyder Urman], if we could do something different with the money this year.”

And something different they did.

Siriano: Business tripled, thanks to extended sizes

Who can singlehandedly triple their business, restructure an entire industry and redefine the commonly-accepted depiction of beauty? Only one person: Christian Siriano.

According to Glamour, the fashion designer — who has featured plus-size models in his fashion shows and has been determined to make his clothing size inclusive — recently explained the scope of the impact these moves have had on his business. In a panel discussion at the 92nd St. Y with executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fern Malli, the 32-year-old Siriano said his business has changed drastically, and all for the better.

“Adding plus sizes to my line tripled my business. Why wouldn’t you do that?! Do we not want to triple the business?” he said. “Do we not think these women should wear our clothes? Do we not want these women to have beautiful things because we’re afraid they’re not beautiful? What is going on here?”

Now 50 percent plus sizes, according to Glamour, Siriano’s business has clearly changed for the better — and it’s doing the same for the fashion industry at large.

“We got Moda Operandi to change their whole website—now they go up to our sizes,” he said. “Knowing we have a part in change like that, it’s amazing…but it’s still crazy to me that it’s not the norm.”

Amen to that.

Survivor of Taliban attack graduates with honors

No one should have their education stripped away from them, not even at the hands of a bullet — that’s what this recent graduate is teaching the world.

According to HuffPost, 28-year-old Breshna Musazai of Afghanistan recently received her completed her studies in law last month from American University in Kabul, all “after she was shot twice in the leg by Taliban insurgents who are opposed to education for women.”‘

Attending high school and college in Pakistan, HuffPost says Musazai and her family returned to Afghanistan in 2011, the year she began her law studies at American University; but in 2016, Taliban fighters attacked the campus. Huffpost reports that because her right leg was crippled from polio, Taliban fighters shot her twice in her left leg, leaving her to play dead for hours until responders secured the scene; a total of 13 people were killed in the invasion.

Musazai went on to the United States to receive medical treatment, and HuffPost says she later returned to school in a wheelchair, proving her strength and her ability to rise above her circumstances.

“When I was a disabled child, I always thought that I was nothing. Now when I see people who say they are inspired by me, I feel so strong,” Musazai told Women in the World, according to HuffPost. “I want them to know that their support makes me want to do more. It also feels so good to see people using my story to support women’s education.”

Now armed with a degree and the admiration of countless around the world, HuffPost says Musazai wants to make sure the Taliban knows exactly what they’re up against.

“I want to tell [them] that they can try to kill as many of us as they can, but that doesn’t mean we will stop fighting them,” she said. “I am going to continue to work and struggle.”

Kate Spade pledges $1M for suicide prevention

Two weeks following the suicide of the brand’s founder, Kate Spade New York is honoring their leader with a new initiative.

According to Glamour, the brand announced last week that “plan to donate more than $1 million to suicide prevention and mental health organizations through its foundation, beginning with $250,000 to the Crisis Text Line, a service that connects individuals to a live counselor for real-time help 24/7.”

Additionally, Glamour says the brand will be matching any public donations made to the group through June 29, up to $100,000.

CEO of Kate Spade New York Anna Bakst told WWD explained that she hopes the move will create a positive change when it comes to dealing with, accepting and treating mental illness.

“Mental illness does not discriminate; it is complicated and difficult to diagnose and can often be life-threatening,” she said, according to Glamour. “We hope that our support will shed even more light on the disease and encourage those who suffer from mental health issues to seek help. Collectively, we must all do more.”

 

Fashion brands respond to ‘don’t care’ jacket

Last week, First Lady Melania Trump travelled to Texas to visit a shelter for children who were separated from their parents and guardians at the U.S. border; to make her unannounced trip, Glamour says she wore a ZARA jacket that read “I Really Don’t Dare, Do U?” on the back. Now, fashion brands the world over are responding with a message in reverse.

According to Glamour, Wildfang was first to take action, releasing a jacket that reads “I Really Care, Don’t U?” along with a “limited capsule collection titled “I REALLY CARE”, with 100 percent of proceeds going to RAICES Texas, which offers legal services and resources to immigrants.”

Emma McIlroy, CEO of Wildfang, told Glamour that they decided to create the collection not only because the moment “could not go unnoticed,” but also because it offered a chance to do some good in the world.

“Because we now make the majority of our products, we are able to turn things around like this, so when we’re passionate about something, we take control of the situation,” she said. “Our customers have gone bananas over this—the support is overwhelming, and we couldn’t be more proud to align with them in support of these families.”

Other brands also joined in, says Glamour, with PSA (Public Service Apparel), unveiling a similarly-worded graphic T-shirt that’s part of its Rapid Response/Limited Edition line; currently available for preorder, Glamour reports proceeds from the shirt’s sales will benefit immigrant youth network United We Dream.

Lingua Franca offered up their take on the do-gooder responsewear, creating a stitched sweater that says “We Care A Lot” that Glamour says will send $100 from each sale to the charity of the buyer’s choice.

Who says fashion can’t make a literal statement?