The financial and critical success of last weekend’s theatrical release of Beauty and the Beast isn’t the only reason Emma Watson has been plastered all over every headline, gossip column, and cover story recently. Back in 2014, when a hacker released nude photos of young Hollywoods actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, a threat was made to Emma Watson that she was next in line for the tasteless exploitation. That round of internet intimidation turned out be nothing but a bluff; however, a handful of private photos from a prior clothing fitting session surfaced recently, leading the actress to take legal action.
This latest controversy is just a drop of water in the current wave of speculation and criticism that continues to surround every strong woman who attempts to make strides on behalf of women on the journey toward gender equality. Emma’s current high profile role of Belle, Disney’s titular bookworm princess, has managed to outrage both feminists and Disney fundamentalists. Critics slam Watson for selling out by agreeing to bring the supposed Stockholm-syndrome sufferer to life after lending her voice to the fight for women’s rights, labeling her a hypocrite. But, isn’t feminism supposed to mean that women have the right to take ownership over their own choices, and not to be dictated by someone else’s idea of what being a female means? Emma Watson is feminist AF, and here are 15 times she proved it.
15. The Infamous Vanity Fair Cover Shoot
Emma Watson has been making her rounds in the media to promote her newest film, the live action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Earlier this month, the actress who plays Belle graced the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, and one of the photos contained in the spread shows her topless, wearing a white perforated shawl that covers what it needs to in order to keep is PG-13. Immediately upon the issue’s release, Emma found herself under fire for exposing her breasts when she claims to be a feminist. In her response to these criticisms, Emma remarked that feminism is defined by choices and the ability to make them and, “I don’t know what my tits have to do with it”. You do you, Emma.
14. The British Elle Magazine Made Her Their Cover Girl
Shortly after her powerhouse United Nations speech on gender equality in 2014, Emma Watson was featured on the cover of the UK Elle magazine’s first ever feminism issue. During this interview, Emma expressed how nervous she was to become the face for the fight for equality, wondering if she was going to have lunch with everyone, or be their lunch. The entire team who prepped, styled and shot Emma for this issue was made up of women, one of whom was her date at the UN event. Emma Watson also graces the cover of this year’s March issue of the Elle UK magazine to promote both her new film and the ethically conscious clothing brands she loves.
13. The United Nations Speech She Gave for the HeForShe Campaign
In the beginning of 2014, Emma Watson was appointed the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, and in the capacity of this position she launched the HeForShe campaign in order to promote gender equality. During this speech, Emma recites that feminism is, by definition, “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” The goal of this speech was to inspire more men to join the fight to support feminism and the concept of gender equality. Emma continues to promote the successful HeForShe campaign, and just last September pinned Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a HeForShe pin.
12. Her Ethically Sourced Red Carpet Looks
Since the Harry Potter franchise catapulted her to fame and the red carpet. Emma Watson has been an outspoken proponent for sustainable, ethically sources fashion brands. Just last month, she launched a separate Instagram account called “The Press Tour” that features all of Emma’s looks during her press tour for Beauty and the Beast. One of the dresses she wore in France was a custom Louis Vuitton made completely of recycles polyester that was created by plastic bottles. Back in 2015, Emma signed up for the Green Carpet Challenge, where she pledged to only wear sustainable pieces while on the red carpet promoted her film Regression.
11. When She Finished Her College Degree
While most of her childhood years were spent filming the Harry Potter films, Emma Watson never let movie stardom get in the way of her education. In 2009 she decided to enroll in not just any college, but an Ivy League school (Brown University to be exact), to earn her undergraduate degree. After taking a brief break to film the last Harry Potter film installment, Emma went on to finish her bachelor’s degree in English Literature. While attending school, she also released the films This Is The End, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Noah. Talk about multitasking. Emma even took time out of her busy graduation day to commemorate the event.
10. She Started a Feminist Book Club
Last January, Emma Watson announced via Twitter that she was planning on starting a feminist book, and the internet lost its mind. Since then Emma has created a group in Goodreads that anyone can join called “Our Shared Shelf” that’s currently sitting at over 185,000 members. Fellow outspoken celebrity feminists who have joined in are among the likes of Abby Wambach and Sophia Bush. The first book Emma chose for her group to read was was Gloria Steinem’s memoir My Life on the Road, and all of the other books that have been selected since are available for viewing in the group. The group is currently reading Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
9. She Participated in the Washington D.C. Women’s March
Following the results of the 2016 presidential election, a worldwide women’s march was planned for the weekend after the inauguration. The hub of these marches took place in Washington D.C., where people of all age, gender, shape, and size gathered together to march for equality and women’s rights. Among the attendees of the Women’s March on Washington were Emma Watson and her mother Jacqueline Luesby. Emma was adorned with a single pin that accessorized her outfit that day, created by a couple from Ann Arbor. The proceeds earned from the sales of the pins went toward Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. During the march, Emma even stopped abruptly to give a young Harry Potter fan who was wearing a Gryffindor hat a big hug.
8. Hermione Learned Feminism From Emma
In 2001 while promoting the release of the first Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Emma Watson ventured to the United States for the first time and appeared on the “LIVE! with Regis & Kelly” show. Emma revealed that the film producers chose her school for the auditions, which took place in the gymnasium. When asked what she responded when her schoolmates asked why she earned the part, she chirped, “because I’m worth it.” Later on in the interview, Emma also stated that she planned to stay in school while she was acting and continue on to earn her college degree. This girl had serious goals and confidence at only 11 years old.
7. MTV Awarded Her the 2013 Trailblazer Award
Emma Watson was given MTV’s Trailblazer award only one year after the award was debuted on the show, the first annual of which went to Emma Stone the year prior. MTV describes the purpose of this awards as honoring “best-in-class young actors who are actively carving out their own unique and diverse path in the film industry.” Since then, Emma has certainly lived up to the expectations set in front of her as a trailblazer, and she even poked fun at herself during the acceptance speech, referring her bad hair from the first Harry Potter film. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was pretty partial to that brushed out perm look, Emma.
6. She Bared it All for Natural Beauty
2013 proved to be a pivotal year for Miss Watson, as she worked to shed that rigid, Hermione-esque persona that she’d been so swiftly labeled with as a result of the decade she spent as the character. Emma joined several other celebrities for a photo shoot that filled 120 pages in a book from James Houston that was created to promote Global Green USA. Although the photos are gorgeously risqué, eager onlookers will be devastated to know that she wasn’t actually nude during the shoot. I know, it’s unfortunate, but the photo shoot was a powerhouse move, nonetheless. Only Emma could manage to hold her own against the beauty of an orchid.
5. She Passes Out Books to Strangers
In the aftermath of the results of the 2016 presidential election, half of the country was searching for a way to take action. Ever the feminist and activist, Emma Watson was one of the first to pull herself together and make a move. She took to Twitter to announce that her first step in fighting back would be to head to the New York City Subway to hand out Maya Angelou books. At the beginning of March, Emma was also busy hiding copes of Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom (also a selection for her book club) along the London Underground as part of an initiative called the Books on the Underground that encourages people to read on public trains. Checkmate, Hermione.
4. Belle Didn’t Wear a Corset in Beauty and the Beast
In typical Emma Watson style, the actress wouldn’t accept the titular role of a Disney princess without making some demands of her own to add a modern touch to the character. As part of her goal to add depth and independence to the archaic trope of the helpless damsel in distress, Emma made some tweaks before agreeing to accept the role. Emma collaborated with the film’s writers to add both a larger backstory and a profession to Belle’s background, while also insisting that the character not wear a corset with the famous yellow ball gown so that her movement wouldn’t be restricted. Now, if we could just work on getting rid of Spanx.
3. Harper’s Bazaar Awarded Her the Inspiration Prize
David Heyman, one of the producers of the Harry Potter franchise, discussed Emma Watson’s passion and dedicated before presenting her with the Inspiration prize at the 2016 Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year awards. Reflecting on an assignment he gave the cast prior to the third film, David recalled that when asked to write an essay on each of their characters, Daniel Radcliffe wrote one page, Rupert Grint wrote nothing, and Emma Watson turned in 15 pages. Emma Watson also proceeded to accepted the award donned in the most fabulous Halloween inspired dress that’s ever existed because, bats.
2. She Interviewed Malala Yousfzai
Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at 18 years old, and Emma interviewed Malala to discuss her life and inspiration for the documentary He Named Me Malala, which was released that year. During a conversation about whether she considers herself a feminist, Malala noted that she shied away from the label until hearing Emma Watson’s UN speech, after which she felt comfortable acknowledging herself as a feminist. The duo also spent time discussing the importance of an education for every child in every country, and the impact schooling makes on the ability of each child to have an equal opportunity for a future.
1. Emma Watson is Hermione Granger
From the moment Hermione Granger first stepped on that train heading to Hogwarts, marching into the car to point out dirt on Ron’s nose and repair Harry’s glasses, she established herself as a feminine force. Hermione was brave, intelligent, bold, and unapologetic, especially when it came to her academic abilities. At the tender age of 11, both Hermione Granger and Emma Watson were determined not to let anything get in their way when it came to an education. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish the line where Hermione stops and Emma begins, so it’s no wonder Emma continues to carry the torch beyond the Deathly Hallows, and that’s what makes them both feminist AF.