By Katelyn Billings
Addressing herself as “that ‘Harry Potter’ girl,” Emma Watson stunned the UN and her entire Internet audience with her speeches in December.
Fresh out of college, Watson has quickly proven herself worthy of the title “Top Celebrity Feminist of 2014,” granted to her by TIME magazine (and by our generation).
While Watson stuns on- and off-screen as the beloved Hermione Granger, she has demonstrated herself to be something so much more than books and cleverness — she is now active in the UN and in her own equality organization, empowering women everywhere.
Upon recently establishing the HeForShe campaign, Watson has further solidified her rightful place in the social justice sphere, arguing that the fight for women’s equality is men’s fight, too.
This controversial and eye-opening statement opened the door to cooperation with, not elimination of, men and patriarchy.
Watson stated that the HeForShe campaign is meant to foster a relationship of support and empowerment from men who feel feminism is abrasive and man-hating.
She declared, “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
Watson’s work with the UN and the HeForShe campaign resulted in her appointment as Goodwill Ambassador of the Year, an honor she said was humbling and extremely motivating.
She stated, “The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life, that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting.”
Her work with Goodwill has taken her to several places in Europe, as well as Africa, in order to promote girls’ educations and fair trade.
At just 24, Watson is one of the most inspirational women of our generation, if not the most inspirational woman of our generation.
While many people aim to discredit her efforts by attacking her age, celebrity status or stance on gender equality, Watson has risen above expectations, re-defining feminism and activism.
By defining feminism as the social, political and economic equity between sexes, Watson has lifted a cloud of misperception off of the movement itself.
She said, “It is my belief that there is a greater understanding than ever that women need to be equal participants in our homes, in our societies, in our governments and in our workplaces.”
She continued, “And they know that the world is being held back in every way because they are not.”
Watson’s words resonate with every woman who has ever, and might ever, be discriminated against because of her gender. Coming from a young, famous and extremely dedicated woman, it is a refreshing change of pace.
Many celebrities use their image and influence to sell products or endorse certain charities; however, Watson is drastically different, for not only is she hands-on (more like waist-deep) and involved in what could be called the most significant issue of our generation, she is also modest and gracious.
When not inspiring women to reach for their full potential in the economic and social spheres of society, Watson works together with many women who are fighting for women’s rights in media and in self-perception.
Joining the ranks of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler, Watson continues to wow and amaze with just the right words.
Citing the media as one reason that millions of girls who suffer from poor self-image, Watson implored her fans and all other women to ignore the standards and gender stereotypes that magazines endorse.
She claimed, “Young women are bombarded by images of perfection, which no human being can really achieve … I feel like young girls are told this whole idea that they have to be this kind of princess and be all delicate and fragile, and that’s bullshit.”
Spot on. Watson is not turning female body image and self-respect into a choice of one or the other, princess or pirate — rather, she is arguing for the acceptance of all, regardless of personal preferences.
It is this mentality that needs to grow and replace the detrimental one that plagues young girls in the world today.
Watson’s message here defies all stereotypes, boundaries and stigmas, and it could not be more powerful.
After Watson’s moving HeForShe speech, she sparked mass media conversations (1.2 billion, to be exact) and took to Twitter to chat with her fans about what they can do for the feminist movement.
One response that resonated with me was when she gave a flawless one-word answer to a girl asking what the most important weapon in a feminist’s arsenal should be.
Watson answered, ‘Conviction.’
In order to work toward a more equitable society, we must all be armed with conviction and the same dedication and determination that Watson embodies.