By: Kyle Buchanan
Here are a few of our favorite moments from our interview with Selena Gomez. To read the full story, pick up the December issue of Glamour.
On looking back at how her mom raised her and if she feels grateful…
“[Nods] Uh-huh! I definitely didn’t appreciate it when I was little. I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me. I’m terrified of what I would have become if I’d stayed there. I’m sure I’d have two children by now. But I love the people, and I’m glad I grew up there. It’s because of [my mom] that I can do things on my own. I like being professional. I like showing up on time. I like being good to people, and I know that I’m reflecting her at the end of the day.”
On her most eye-opening moments as UNICEF’s youngest-ever U.S. ambassador…
“When I went to Ghana with my mom and my stepdad for UNICEF. That entire trip was life changing. There were kids playing with plastic bottles—they got a bunch of rubber bands and put the bottles together and made a soccer ball—and that was their entertainment; they were so happy! If you think how we live our lives here, we need so much to keep us entertained, and we expect so much. And these kids want an education so badly. I mean, I hated homework, and they want it; it’s amazing. I also participated in the Global Poverty Project’s Live Below the Line campaign, where I lived on $1.50 a day for a week—such a cool experience.”
On not letting negativity affect her…
“If I had let all of the negative stuff affect me, I don’t think I would be satisfied with the person I am now. That’s what I tell my fans: If you’re miserable with everything going on in school, that is so not going to matter the moment you leave. My mom always told me, “Just turn the other cheek and keep moving forward.” That’s something I’ve always done, and now I look back and I have no regrets.”
By: Marshall Heyman
Rory Kennedy, 44, knows how to tackle a difficult subject. In her career as a documentarian, she has made films about AIDS, nuclear radioactivity, and abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. But perhaps her most challenging subject yet? Ethel Kennedy, who also happens to be her mother.
For decades—through public triumphs and tragedies—Mrs. Kennedy, 84, has been the family’s hidden hero. “Ethel was kind of a silent Kennedy, but she was more than a bystander to history,” says Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films and an executive producer of Ethel, Rory’s acclaimed new movie about her notoriously private mother. In fact, Ethel made her own mark on history. When her husband, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1968 (with the world still reeling from the murder of his brother President John F. Kennedy just five years earlier), she decided to give her 11 children—and America—a huge dose of perspective. Rather than shrinking inward, she reached out, founding the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and raising a family of astonishingly dedicated humanitarians. “There are a whole bunch of people out there who needed help,” says Mrs. Kennedy of her charitable work. “Public service is an effective way to make change.” She even broke some rules and had some fun along the way. (Once, at a party with JFK’s cabinet, she had everybody thrown into a pool.) She is, as Nevins puts it, more than a glass-half-full person: She’s a “glass-three-quarters-full person.”
Rory’s film is a love letter to her mother, who “has a perspective that hasn’t been shared in any substantive way before,” Rory says. “My family gets to spend time with my mother, but I felt I should share her with the world.”
By: Dahlia Lithwick
You could call it a bit of a rocky start: After being one of just nine women in her freshman class of hundreds at Harvard Law (and then graduating from Columbia Law), Ruth Bader Ginsburg was refused a job with a prominent male judge just because she was female; then, as a law professor, she had to hide her second pregnancy in order to avoid workplace discrimination--and fight to get paid as much as a man. Lucky for us, our world looks nothing like that anymore, and that, in fact, is thanks largely to Ginsburg. “When I graduated from law school in 1959,” she says, “there were no antidiscrimination laws. Employers were up-front that they did not want a woman.”Ginsburg saw the legal web holding women back, and she took it upon herself to tear it down.
That meant going all the way to the Supreme Court, first as a trial lawyer, arguing against laws that treated women differently when it came to military housing, Social Security death benefits, drinking age, and jury service. She won many of the earliest battles on behalf of women’s equality. (Even so, one Supreme Court justice reportedly graded her grumpily in his private notes as: “C+…very precise female.”) Finally she was tapped by President Bill Clinton for the U.S. Supreme Court, making the now 79-year-old its second female justice ever. “I am really proud of Justice Ginsburg’s service on the Supreme Court,” President Clinton tells Glamour. “During her tenure she has decided cases wisely and defended big decisions well. She has been a steadfast defender of the constitutional rights of the American people. And she has made a real effort to work with the other members of an often deeply divided court to fashion opinions capable of generating broad public support.”
Justice Ginsburg’s closest friendship on the court, with Justice Antonin Scalia, speaks volumes about her: He’s larger than life; she’s tiny and reserved. He hollers; she nudges. But he agrees that she can be incredibly persuasive. “She does it quietly,” Justice Scalia says, “but she’s very effective.” And determined: Justice Ginsburg had two children with her beloved husband of 56 years, and when he died in 2010, she was right back at work the next morning, just as she was through her own two bouts of cancer.
By: Erin Zammett Ruddy
"I’m really scared,” reads a passage from Erin Merryn’s diary, written when she was just 11 years old. “Something happened last night, but I don’t know who to tell.” The untellable secret: She’d been molested by an older cousin. Time and again he preyed on her at family gatherings—locking her in closets, bathrooms, basements. Shockingly, it wasn’t the first time Merryn had endured such horrors; from the ages of six to eight, she’d been molested and raped by a friend’s uncle. But when her younger sister revealed that she, too, had been a victim of their cousin’s abuse, Merryn decided it was time to tell their parents. Then, after years of graphic flashbacks and even a suicide attempt, “it just hit me that I did nothing wrong,” she says. “I didn’t need to be ashamed.”
And Merryn decided no other child should go through what she had. “We teach kids bus drills, fire drills, tornado drills, but nothing about this,” she says. So as a high school senior in Illinois, she published her first book, Stolen Innocence, and began speaking at leadership conferences and children’s advocacy centers around the country. In 2010 she helped draft Erin’s Law, which encourages schools to educate children about sexual abuse prevention. (The gut-wrenching statistics: More than 300,000 reports of such abuse are filed in the United States each year.) “Think of how many kids could have been saved from monsters like Jerry Sandusky if they’d had the tools to speak up,” she says. “I want that second-grader to tell her mom what happened at the sleepover, not wait until she’s 30 to break her silence.” One nine-year-old survivor did exactly that—and wants to be “just like Erin” when she grows up. “If I had learned about sexual abuse when I was younger,” the girl says, “I would have definitely told someone sooner.”
Today Merryn is 27 and thriving—she has a brand-new niece, a great boyfriend, and a stash of bridal magazines (wink, wink). She’s undaunted in her mission to pass Erin’s Law in all 50 states and has already checked four off her list: Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Maine. “Because of Erin,” says Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the first to sign the law, “our schools are making sure students are educated about sexual abuse. Because of Erin, further cases of child sexual abuse are being prevented.”
Merryn’s ultimate goal? To protect them all. She says: “I want to put sex offenders out of business.”
By: Melissa Whitworth
A very pregnant Demi Moore. Yoko Ono and John Lennon, hours before his assassination. Eight U.S. presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, practically every Olympian and Oscar winner you can name—Annie Leibovitz, 63, has photographed them all. With images that are epic and intimate at the same time, she’s taken our culture’s love of celebrity and turned it into high art.
The first woman ever to have her work exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., Leibovitz is “a perfectionist,” says Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. “And she’s the greatest portrait photographer in the world.” Whether Leibovitz is shooting a world leader’s official headshot or a sumptuous portfolio or lush cover for Vogue, the result is always instantly recognizable as “an Annie.”
“I’ve learned to create a palette, a vocabulary of ways to take pictures,” Leibovitz explains. “What has stayed true all the way through my work is my composition, I hope, and my sense of color.” We’ll add to that very modest assessment: Her portraits bring out at once the nobility and the vulnerability of her subjects. They’re magic.
Leibovitz started out at Rolling Stone in 1970 amid a boys’ club of male editors, writers, and rock stars. “There were some advantages to being a woman photographer,” she admits. “I think women have more empathy with the subject.” Along the way she toured with the Rolling Stones, traveled to war zones in Rwanda and Sarajevo, and became famous for persuading stars to go to incredible lengths for the sake of the picture: a shirtless Arnold Schwarzenegger astride a white horse; Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub full of milk; Cameron Diaz being shot out of a cannon.
“Pilgrimage,” her latest collection of photographs (touring the country now to rave reviews), shows a side of Leibovitz we’ve never seen before. There are no people in these images; instead we see still lifes, stops along a journey: Virginia Woolf’s desk, Georgia O’Keeffe’s tattered bedsheets, Emily Dickinson’s lace dress. After the grief of losing her partner, Susan Sontag, and her father within weeks of each other eight years ago, “Pilgrimage” is Leibovitz’s quiet but stunning comeback; its beauty “informs the way she’s moving forward,” according to The New York Times. “I fight to take a good photograph every single time,” Leibovitz says. “I will do this until I drop!”
By: Shaun Dreisbach
It was impossible to watch the 2012 Olympic Games without noticing: This was the Year of the Woman. For the first time ever, women competed in the same 36 sports as men. Another first? More women than men made the U.S. team—and they brought back a bigger medal haul too. “There’s a mind shift that’s happening,” says Janice Forsyth, Ph.D., director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies. “Women’s bodies too delicate to box? Come on!”
These five athletes exemplify all those groundbreaking firsts: There’s 17-year-old swimming phenom Missy Franklin, a high schooler from Aurora, Colorado, who broke two world records and nabbed five medals (four of them gold); Kayla Harrison, 22, already a role model for having had the guts to take her former coach to court for sexual abuse at age 17, who went on to become the first American—male or female—to win the gold in judo; Allyson Felix, 27, who won the 200-meter sprint to become the most decorated athlete in the history of the event; soccer player Carli Lloyd, 30, who scored both goals in the gold-medal-winning match watched by a record number of people; and, of course, Gabby Douglas, the 17-year-old gymnast who was virtually unknown before the Olympics but who won gold in both the team final and the individual all-around—becoming the first African American gymnast in history to stand atop the podium. “I knew I had it in me,” Douglas tells Glamour. “I kept hearing ‘You just have to grab it. It’s right there.’ And I grabbed it.”
The girl power at this year’s Games was contagious. “It felt awesome to be a part of Team USA,” says Harrison, “but it was even more amazing to be part of such a big female movement.” That movement will only grow: “Soon people won’t see anything unusual about half the athletes being female,” says David Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians. “We’ll take it for granted: Of course they are. To me, that will be the real achievement.”
By: Sarah J. Robbins
"It takes one second to ruin a woman’s life,” says activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, 34. “You may need a license to buy a gun, but in many places a man can buy acid from the corner store, throw it on a woman’s face, and from then on she is the living dead.” And that, shockingly, is exactly what happens every year to more than 1,200 women worldwide—victims of horrible, disfiguring acid attacks, most often at the hands of male neighbors, cousins, even husbands seeking retaliation or revenge. While such acts are outlawed in Obaid-Chinoy’s native Pakistan, they often go unpunished. In fact, reports of the incidents have almost tripled since 2010. So the revolutionary filmmaker made it her mission to give women the most crucial form of self-defense available: a voice. Two years ago she and codirector Daniel Junge began persuading dozens of acid-violence survivors to tell their stories. In an amazing triumph, their resulting film, Saving Face, won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Anam Shehzadi, 17 (above, far left), is one of Pakistan’s hundreds of victims. Last year a neighborhood boy threw acid on her; afterward, she says, “I used to cover my face and not want to meet anyone.” Her shame was so great that her family removed all the mirrors from their house. To Shehzadi and many others, Saving Face’s Oscar win—Pakistan’s first—was a joyous validation. Plus, it’s creating huge change in the country’s legal system: Thanks in large part to the film, perpetrators in Pakistan’s largest province are now subject to much harsher punishment, and acid violence is classified as what it is: a form of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Obaid-Chinoy is working with Project SAAVE (Stand Against Acid Violence), which partners with organizations to provide survivors with the surgeries and support they need to start over. Says Melanne Verveer, United States ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues: “She will save countless lives.”
By: Aaron Betsky
She’s called “The Z” and “The Lady Gaga of Architecture.” But more accurately she’s Dame Zaha Hadid, 62, the very first female winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize (the Nobel of her field) and one of the most accomplished architects on earth.
“I always wanted to be an architect,” says Hadid. She grew up in Baghdad, a city filled back then with modern buildings. “My house was like Auntie Mame’s, with my mother redecorating every season,” Hadid recalls. After studying math in Beirut, she enrolled in London’s Architectural Association school. Her final portfolio, with paintings of geometric forms careening out of the Thames River, got her noticed by critics worldwide. But for years her work remained more copied than constructed.
Part of the problem? She was a woman in a man’s job—Hadid still thinks that’s a reason she lost out on early commissions. But she kept her studio alive with teaching, interiors projects, and furniture design. In 1993 she got her break: She was commissioned to build a fire station in Germany. Then an art center in Cincinnati. And finally more and more buildings in capital cities all over the world, including this year’s aquatic center for the London Olympics, lauded for its epic, sweeping design and deemed by one critic to be the 2012 Games’ “most majestic space.”
By: Amy Wicks
With her dark-rimmed glasses, signature center part, and talent for mixing color, texture, and pattern (a striped T-shirt with sequined pants? yes!), Jenna Lyons has inspired legions of women to wake up a little earlier in the morning to try to look even half as cool as she does. As president and executive creative director of J.Crew—the booming $1.9 billion brand that Michelle Obama, Katie Holmes, and Oprah can’t get enough of—she’s not only the brains behind the clothes but also their most recognizable model.
“I enjoy the process of putting crazy outfits together,” says Lyons, 44, who started making her own clothes in seventh grade when her six-foot height made shopping a challenge. She earned a degree from Parsons in New York City and then ascended through the J.Crew ranks, from assistant in 1990 to creative director in 2007. Add the introduction of kids and bridal lines to the mix—not to mention 170 percent growth over nine quick years—and it’s clear Lyons is on fire. “Amazing things happen when you’re having fun doing something you love,” she says.
Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan isn’t surprised by Lyons’ success: “She transformed J.Crew from an inexpensive preppy brand into a brand that really gets at the heart of how American women want to dress…. Her greatest skill is that she can dress both mothers and daughters with equal style. And she proves that it can be done at a fair price.”
This year Lyons continued to push the company to exciting new places: celebrity endorsements, a new presence in Asia, and, next year, world domination—literally—with its first brick-and-mortar store overseas. “She influences, she creates,” says J.Crew’s chairman and CEO, Mickey Drexler. “But what’s less known about Jenna is that she’s a really smart businessperson.” She’s also mom to a six-year-old son and a judge for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. “I’m constantly looking for ways to do more,” Lyons says. “My day is never over!” Such is the life of a superwoman. “I’m partial,” says Drexler, “but I think she’s a Woman of the Year every year.”
By: Emma Rosenblum
Lena Dunham, the immensely likable 26-year-old force behind the year’s most-talked-about television debut, HBO’s Girls, just wants to double-check that she is, in fact, a Glamour Woman of the Year. “I was in People’s ‘Most Beautiful of the Year’ issue,” she says, laughing, “but there was just an interview with me on another page—I was not a ‘Most Beautiful Person.’ They duped me!” But there’s no duping here: Dunham, who came to the entertainment world’s attention with her 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture (made at age 23!), has become one of the most powerful women in Hollywood since the April premiere of her show, which she—deep breath—created, stars in, and also directs.
The Emmy-nominated comedy follows the lives of four twenty-something women making their way in New York City, unsexy stumbles and all. “TV and movies never fully captured the day-to-day sensation of being me,” Dunham says, “and I figured I couldn’t be the only person who felt that way.” Women saw themselves on-screen—and with dialogue like “I have been dating someone who treats my heart like it’s monkey meat,” they heard themselves too.
Dunham grew up in New York City, the daughter of photographer Laurie Simmons and painter Carroll Dunham. She’s got a Twitter following of more than 370,000, and die-hard fans. Says Emma Watson: “I’m obsessed.… She’s, like, my favorite person in the world.” Dunham also signed a book deal for a reported $3.5 million. We say she’s worth it. For real.