What Does It Mean To Be An Activist?
The power of the internet and social media means that everyone has ability to be activist or more accurately for most people, a social media activist. But does this new-found easy access to your voice mean that the definition of ‘activist’ has become somewhat diluted?
If you go on Instagram now, every influencer, actor, musician and comedian is an activist and whilst I am no way shape or form taking away form this, I love that social media has given individuals the power to express their views and build communities that bring together a network of disparate people together behind many worth while causes, it has brought into question - what activism now means?
I consider myself an activist in the sense that I advocate for the protection of our planet, the animals within it and equal rights and opportunities for all. I do admit that outside of writing about it to you all I can do more in personal life to push the envelope on these issues, which is why I have signed up to organisations like the United Nations volunteers and frequently try and find ways to limit my environmental footprint by making zero-waste substitutes. I believe that whilst it is great that so many of us have causes that we support, it is important to remember that words aren’t always enough. We need to lead by example and the only way to do that is by getting out there and taking action. I recently read an article about sustainable living that discussed what the biggest hurdles to adopting a sustainable lifestyle were, and one of the most common themes that came up was this idea that you must be a perfectionist and there is no room for error.
In my opinion, perfectionists doesn’t exist and it’s ok to take things one step at a time, the most important thing is that you are willing and trying to make a change. I’m sure that even the most successful zero-waste activists or any kind of activist haven’t got everything figured out, there is always more that you can do. Sometimes this is difficult because of personal reasons, work constraints, the area you live on or simply because you don’t have the time to commit to a cause, and that’s ok! Forgive yourself for that and do what you can in the time and space you have available, as cheesy as it is to say ‘every little counts’, no-one gets it 100% right the first time and as the world continues to change and values evolve, we are forever learning new ways to tackle some of the biggest world issues be it around equal rights, climate change or personal perceptions.
So, what issues are important to you? GLAMOUR magazine conducting a survey to try and get an idea of what YOU care about, you can read about the big themes that came up below.
With International Women’s Day recently and the rise of the #MeToo movement, a record number of women being voted into US congress, and more women speaking up about women’s rights whether reproductive rights or gender equality in the work place – it is no surprise that feminism is an issue that many people have at the forefront of their mind. According to the GLAMOUR survey, 69% of women consider themselves feminists, with 83% of women defining feminism as equality between the sexes. However, how feminism is viewed varies between generations. 11% of Generation X (born early-to-mid 1960s-early 1980s) readers felt that women ‘having it all’ fed into the definition of feminism compared to 0% of Generation Z (born mid-1990s to mid-2000s) readers. Interestingly, whilst the #MeToo movement is likely to have influenced the feminist movement and made a huge beep on people’s radar 51% of Generation X individuals stated that the movement hadn’t spurred them on to speak up about sexual abuse. This highlights that whilst feminism is on our agenda, it remains an issue that largely affected by perspective.
82% of respondents in the GLAMOUR survey stated that they would never wear fur, 78% disagree with animal testing and a pretty large proportion of you (62%) are willing to put your money where you mouth is and support the causes to take a stand against animal cruelty and testing. Several brands, such as DVF, Gucci, Michael Kors, Phillip Lim, and Versace have taken this onboard too by eliminating real fur from their collections. Animal rights even go beyond fashion, with many people favouring vegetarian or vegan options over meat dishes – you can check out our post on some of the best vegan restaurants in London here.
I was so glad to see environmentalism was one of the big themes that emerged in terms of activism, as I studied an Environmental Technology MSc and so it’s an issue very close to me. Ninety-nine per cent of people interviewed by GLAMOUR recycle and 95% of people said that they were all clued up on recycling facts. This attitude also filters into the beauty industry too, with 81% stating that affordability isn’t an issue when it comes to buying eco-friendly beauty products. Over three-quarters of you (76%) would choose not to buy a product containing palm oil due to its negative environmental impacts, 67% would switch to an eco-friendly sanitary product (DAME and the Diva Cup are great options) and a very disciplined 51% of people said that they would give up shopping for a year if it helped the environment.