Lorraine Candy: As 2016 Comes To An End, I Implore You To Declare Yourself An Active Feminist

We live in extraordinary times, and you need to have a view on women and equality at this point in history.

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Normally, my stance on political and social issues is less direct, hence the dilemma. I mean, whether you identify as a feminist or not is up to you, isn't it?

My job as a journalist and Editor-in-Chief of a monthly glossy is usually to simply offer you the facts around newsworthy debates, allowing you to then make up your own mind on the issues.

And I am not here to judge your views either way – this is, after all, primarily a fashion and beauty magazine. That's our business, and the main reason women read ELLE . I'm very proud of this.

'AS THE CONTRARY, CONFUSING, SURPRISING, OCCASIONALLY UPLIFTING BUT MORE OFTEN UPSETTING 2016 DRAWS TO A CLOSE, I BELIEVE THERE IS ONE THING I ABSOLUTELY MUST ASK YOU TO DO IN 2017 AND THAT IS TO BECOME AN ACTIVE FEMINIST. THERE – I'VE SAID IT OUT LOUD.'

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But now I think the time has come to ask something extra of you as women, to ignite that spark of activism instinctively we feel that ELLE readers in particular have, and to implore you to adopt an active and responsive feminist mindset.

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We live in extraordinary times, and you need to have a view on women and equality at this point in history.

Now it's time for you to make your views known as a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife or a partner.

Some of you may already be there on the feminist frontline, whether you're marching for equal pay or signing up to quotas in the workplace – and hurrah for that. But I sense some of you may still be confused or, at worst, indifferent.

Please don't be indifferent, there's no need to be: advocating equal rights for 50% of the population is not a hard concept to support. It's a no brainer, and it is how we should all live in society today. There is no grey in this black and- white argument, nothing to misunderstand or not support.

This is a human right and you should all be fighting for it now, in my opinion.

In this month's ELLE issue we've printed a study which looks into the roles of women worldwide. It shows what a huge, positive difference we make when we have a seat at the table because it scientifically proves how much we are worth economically.

The statistics are compelling: want a more profitable hedge fund? Invest in one led by a woman: those led or owned by women have a return of 59% against an average of 37% led by men*.

Want a more successful business? Hire a woman. Having more women at board-director level produces greater economic success.

Want a more effective army battalion? Then put a woman in charge. Studies in Israel have found that women in combat are superior in areas of discipline, motivation, shooting, weapons use and maintaining alertness.

And if you want your film to make more at the box office, hire a leading lady.

If you believe in equality, then don't let this belief rest lightly on your shoulders, nor allow it to lurk quietly in the background. Be proactive, tell people what you know, tackle the inequality you witness and call it out when you know it's not fair.

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There is no doubt about the power of female capital globally, but we simply don't get the chances or choices offered to men, despite the evidence of economical and other success when equality is represented at the highest of levels.

The time has come for all of us to stand up for the opportunity we are being denied through old-fashioned attitudes, sexist thinking and often outright misogyny. I don't think we should be afraid to call out these bad practices – we will all suffer if we don't, so please be more vocal when you witness this in action.

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Now, this definitive stance – demanding that you become feminists – could present me with another dilemma. I'm the editor of a glossy magazine: why, you may ask – and, indeed, a lot of people do ask me this – am I highlighting such serious facts and stats on women's rights alongside in-depth advice on how to wear this season's new prints or which matte lipstick to buy? Does this seem hypocritical?

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Well, that old chestnut is easy to answer: being a feminist doesn't mean rejecting your femininity, but it does mean questioning the assumptions that society has around it, particularly when you note that the Google definition of it includes the description 'she celebrates her femininity by wearing make-up and high heels'.

We aren't keen on this description at ELLE – it feels old fashioned and restrictive in these times. What we like to wear, how we do our hair, the beauty products we use or choose not to use are all expressions of our femininity.

In fact, almost all aspects of our appearance are related to the way we present ourselves as women in the world. And fashion magazines such as this exist to serve the essence of femininity: it is my job to deliver information and inspiration to everyone who identifies as a woman that will make them feel happy and proud of their gender.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Women Are Happier Being Female Than 70 Years Ago

Related: 11 Tips For Being A Strong Woman In The Workplace

But in these times of change, wherein gender boundaries are being constantly questioned, explored and investigated, I wanted to ask what femininity means to you today.

If you believe in equality, then don't let this belief rest lightly on your shoulders, nor allow it to lurk quietly in the background. Be proactive, tell people what you know, tackle the inequality you witness and call it out when you know it's not fair.

Be a bold part of this brave new world by revelling in your own particular brand of femininity. You'll feel so much better for it. We all will.

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