In a world dominated by filters, emojis, and #hashtags, it’s easy to get swept up in the superficiality of it all. Lucky for us, these five women are breaking through the noise to challenge modern ideas of beauty in favor of realness, authenticity, and honesty.
Known for her role as Taystee on Orange is the New Black, this 28-year-old has added activist to her résumé. After finding her work on-set intersect with her Black Lives Matter activism, she used her platform to speak out against injustice and inequality. She has also become a champion for plus-sized women and body positivity, using social media (#voiceofthecurves) and her new clothing brand to increase representation for the 67% of women in the United States who are size 14 and above. Embracing her body and using her platform to ensure all people have equal representation solidifies Danielle Brooks as a role model of realness.
“We just have to get more involved and be more informed on a much more [local] scale that affects our communities…and will ultimately affect the greater scale. We’re all in it together.”
A former Christian Dior account exec, Taryn Toomey shook up her own life and those of women everywhere when she created The Class and The Retreatment to provide a fitness-based escape for high-profile clientele. Burned out by the superficial hustle of the fashion industry, Toomey escaped it all in 2007 to become a certified yoga instructor and never looked back. Now, her restorative business inspires clients to tap into their frustrations, passions, and rawest emotions in the pursuit of fully expressing themselves. Toomey’s focus on physical empowerment helps her clients accept and refresh themselves both inside and out.
“We use the body to access emotion, to release it, and to become lighter in more ways than one. It’s a transformation from start to finish.”
This girl is (still) on fire and has fanned the flames of the #nomakeup revolution. Pleasantly surprised by a bare-faced photo of herself, this multi-platinum recording artist has made a habit of publicly appearing au naturale, paving the way for women everywhere to embrace a fresh look. In addition to this empowering work, she has also started using her platform to raise breast cancer awareness, especially in African-American women (like her mother, a survivor), who experience a 42% higher mortality rate than their Caucasian counterparts. She recently posed for the Stella McCartney Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign supporting the Memorial Sloan Kettering Breast Examination Center of Harlem. Whether bare-faced or baring it all, Keys is a role model for keeping it real.
"Cause I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing”
Any woman who has ever struggled with self-reinvention can relate to Linda Rodin—a stylist who created her own beauty brand when most consider retirement. Whether by embracing the gray locks that started sprouting in her 30s or by launching an oil-based beauty line when the industry was still obsessed with oil-free, she is unapologetically committed to being true to herself. While we adore her signature style, we love her even more for being open about trying fillers, her love of French fries, and all the sunscreen she should have worn in her twenties (but swears she wears now). From her business savvy to her stylishly cluttered apartment, we can’t get enough of this fiery fashionista.
“In the end, nobody’s perfect, and we’re all doing the best we can.”
Garance Doré is a French style icon, photographer, illustrator, and blogger. She is refreshingly honest about her battles with body image and has recently become a champion for women struggling in the face of societal pressure to be perfect wives and mothers. Her raw Lenny Letter recount of her struggle to conceive also revealed her new life philosophy: finding fulfillment despite the measures of a society that seeks to limit the female experience to motherhood. Her authentic voice challenges women to set their own goals and find self-realization in their achievements.
“Sometimes, the most we can do is nothing. Just let life decide and fall in love with our destiny.”
Whether on screen or on a yoga mat, these women are helping us all by focusing on the things that make us most human. While we respect each of them for their contributions to the beauty, entertainment, and social sectors, we are most appreciative of their dedication to authenticity. It’s women like them that help us all be a little more real.