header image: @dothehotpants
Last January, thousands of women, men, and non-binary folks from all over the world banded together to advocate for women’s rights and the rights of those who feel oppressed or silenced. And this year they’ll be at it again, with a Women’s March that promises to be even bigger and better than the first.
This weekend (January 20-21), dozens of cities will each hold Women’s Marches of their own. And while the March attendees may be geographically separated (if only we could all hop on a plane and create one, gigantic Super March), they’ll be united by a central cause—to empower and amplify voices that, until now, have largely been silenced.
Some people dedicate their entire lives to making sure that those voices are heard, and many of them take to social media to promote the ideas, messages, and campaigns they support most passionately. From Instagram accounts about body positivity to online movements that shed light on the realities of assault, these people are tech-savvy enough to understand that social media can be a powerful tool when it comes to defending and protecting human rights.
TL;DR, dozens of smart, talented, beautiful people are using their online following for good, including many who live right here in the Great White North. And while we wish we could highlight them all, following these five lovely activists is a great start and a sure-fire way to get you inspired in time for this year’s Women’s March.
RANIA EL MUGAMMAR
Toronto-based activist Rania El Mugammar runs her own website (raniawrites.com), writes her own poetry, organizes anti-oppression workshops and has been featured in the Huffington Post, the CBC and the Toronto Star. Basically, there’s pretty much nothing she can’t do. Mugammar is also a proud Sudanese-Canadian and works to combat oppression against Muslim and Black folks in addition to oppression against women. You can follow Mugammar on Twitter @raniawrites and on Instagram @rania.writes.
DANA “HOTPANTS” SUCHOW
Dana “Hotpants” Suchow has been featured in Marie Claire, Vogue, Flare, and Seventeen and co-founded The Ripple, an organization that encourages women to empower and support one another, with entrepreneur Rachel Cargle. And, because you’re probably wondering, “Hotpants” is actually the name of Suchow’s fashion-turned-body image blog. Suchow uses her blog as well as her various social media accounts (including a new YouTube channel) to promote body positivity and tackle issues related to body dysmorphia and eating disorders. You can follow Suchow on Twitter and Instagram @dothehotpants.
Omg I almost forgot #wcw #womancrushwednesday 😜 This one goes out to me and my fucking gigantic teeth!!! • This week my intuitive eating game was on POINT and I am SO proud of myself!! A lot of you ask me how I got to this place in my life where every meal is no longer a struggle to listen to my body’s hunger signals. Well, I wish I had an easy answer for you, I truly do. But the truth is, it took me years to get to this place. Years of hard work and failures and binges and self-hatred. It took a lot of money on therapy and self-help books, and hours upon hours of time spent journaling, reading, and learning about the human brain. But while I don’t have a quick fix for you, I want you to know that I still struggle. I still have my off days, and I still wake up and don’t instantly love my body or my reflection. Did you binge today? I promise you are not alone. Were you verbally abusive to yourself today? I promise you are not alone. Do you wish you were more advanced in your recovery? I promise…you are not alone. • Every day I look on social media, and I think, wow these people are all doing so much better at recovery than I am, and I know many of you look at me that way too. But remember, loving your body, and developing a healthy relationship with food again, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lot of 2 steps forward, 1 step back…and sometimes even 3 steps back. But no matter how many falls I’ve had while trying to stop binging, I’ve learned to get back up and forgive myself. Without empathy and forgiveness for myself, I don’t know where I would be. Because just like you I’ve made mistakes, but it’s learning how to peacefully move on from them that takes practice. I’m proud of where I am today, and you should be proud of where you are today too. Life isn’t easy. So give yourself a break, and a hug, and some forgiveness. Be your #wcw today and every day ❤ • #DoTheHotpants
Like Mugammar, Chenthoori Malankov is based in Toronto and continues to grace us all with her insight into women’s issues, specifically violence against women (check out this Huffington Post interview where she talks about how women of colour and sexual assault survivors are represented in the media). She also works for Equal Voice Canada, an organization devoted to electing more women to office, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Keep on slaying, girl. You can follow Malankov on Twitter @Chenthoorii and on Instagram @chenthu.
Leah Juliett is a poet. Leah Juliett is an ambassador for GLAAD. Leah Juliett founded March Against Revenge Porn, a movement that seeks to put a stop to cyber sex crimes. We have no idea what they’ll do next, but Juliett—a queer, non-binary, self-proclaimed political activist—is clearly on their way to becoming one of the most widely recognized advocates of LGBTQ+ rights in North America, if not the world. Juliett has written for Seventeen, Refinery29, and Teen Vogue, and you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram @leahjuliett.
JULIE S. LALONDE
Julie S. Lalonde lives in Ottawa, regularly works with feminist organizations across Canada, and has spoken out about women’s rights in Flare, Wired, Vice, and on CBC. Lalonde also launched her very own website and campaign, Outside of the Shadows, at the tail end of last year. After being stalked by an ex-boyfriend for over ten years, Lalonde produced an Outside of the Shadows video to educate people about criminal harassment and offer women advice about what to do if they, too, are being criminally harassed. Lalonde worked with Montreal artist Ambivalently Yours to animate the video, which was funded completely through donations. You can follow Lalonde on Twitter @JulieSLalonde and on Instagram @yellowmanteau.
If you follow my InstaStories, you know my day SUCKS. But now I’m back in Ottawa and pulling myself together to facilitate a super important discussion about dealing with creeps at coffeeshops, bars and events. Bless up, @littlejoberrys who is hosting the event and just an all-around shining star in this dark world. My new, very apropos, shirt is from @blackbirdstudios.ca in Hamilton! 🙌🏻 ——- #SupportYourLocalGirlGang #Selfie #Feminism #Activism #BackOffCreeps #Ottawa #FML #thisdaytho
Written by: Sara Cristiano