Emma Watson is a woman whose grace, success and intellect we would only be too happy to emulate. From her talent on screen to her impeccable style, there are many things to love about this inspirational 26-year-old, not least her stance on feminism, sexism and empowering yourself. She’s one of the most respected actresses of her generation,a UN ambassador for women’s rights, a trailblazing celebrity activist and all round brilliant human being. She’s celebrating her 26th Birthday this weekend and in celebration, below are some of the actress’ most influential words on the topic of female empowerment.
On women’s rights:
“I think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.”
“Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It’s not prescriptive, it’s not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. If you want to run for Prime Minister, you can. If you don’t, that’s wonderful, too. Shave your armpits, don’t shave them, wear flats one day, heels the next. These things are so irrelevant and surface to what it is all really about, and I wish people wouldn’t get caught up in that.”
On defying gender stereotypes:
“Become an engineer.” – on Twitter, in response to a young woman who asked, “My dad says I can’t be an engineer because it’s a ‘man’s profession’, what do I do to change that?”
“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 bulls**t. I identify much more with the idea of being a warrior and being a fighter.”
I truly, truly believe that beauty is something that comes from within.
On women and ageing:
“As a younger woman, that pressure got me down, but I’ve made my peace with it. With airbrushing and digital manipulation, fashion can project an unobtainable image that’s dangerously unhealthy. I’m excited about the ageing process. I’m more interested in women who aren’t perfect. They’re more compelling.”
“There’s nothing interesting about being perfect – you lose the point.”
On anxiety and self-doubt:
“I, as a 21-year-old, was riddled with insecurity and self-critiquing. Some of my friends still are. I realised that I didn’t like friends taking photos of me when I wasn’t working and I actually got in a fight about this issue. And I wondered, why is this bothering me? Why does this make me so insecure? And I realised it’s because I can’t even reconcile myself with my own image on the front of these magazines.
Comparing myself to how I look, when I’ve gone through all of that makeup and styling, in my normal life is… just… I can’t live up to it. I was like, ‘Holy shit! If that’s how I feel — and I get to be the person who’s on the cover of those magazines — how’s anyone else meant to cope?’
It’s unbelievable. Switching from that to being like: ‘Oh, I actually operate in a system that’s fucked. I’m not fucked, the system’s fucked. OK.’ And, ironically, it’s probably made me more beautiful and more confident as a result because I’m not carrying that anxiety anymore.”
On taking action in life:
In my moments of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly, ‘If not me, then who? If not now, then when?’
“I love having the door opened for me, isn’t that just polite? Isn’t that just a nice thing to do for someone else? … But I think the key is, would you then mind if I opened the door for you? … Chivalry, for example, should be consensual. Both parties should be feeling good about that.”
On body image:
“I don’t have perfect teeth, I’m not stick thin. I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything.”