It's easy to be jaded about Hollywood culture and the ways in which it tyrannizes women with impossible beauty standards. For the most part, I try not to look at the covers of US Weekly or read the blogs that scrutinize celebrity weight loss and track celebrity rehab stints.
But there are plenty of celebrity stories that inspire me—and I'm not talking about losing weight or posing in the buff on Instagram. Scores of celebrity mothers are using their fame as a platform for causes that have personal meaning to them. While slimming down after pregnancy grabs my attention, reading about mothers making the world a better place actually holds it.
These moms are out there fighting the good fight, using their privileged position for something more than just swag and VIP seats at Fashion Week.
1. Kerry Washington
Photograph by Instagram
As if I didn't adore her enough already, recently she gave a rousing speech at the GLAAD Media Awards speaking out against the marginalization of the LGBT community. Ms. Washington used her acceptance speech as a call to arms for women, people of color, poor people, immigrants, people with disabilities, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and intersex people to unite in the struggle for equal rights and equal opportunities. This is why we love Ms. Washington: she's a talented, articulate, tireless advocate for disenfranchised communities.
2. Angelina Jolie
Photograph by Rob Latour/REX USA
Angelina Jolie did not have to pen an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times telling the world about her recent decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Thanks to HIPAA, healthcare records are private, so none of us would ever be privy to that information. Nevertheless, she detailed her decision to undergo surgery after some blood work revealed what could have been early signs of cancer. Her piece expresses no self-pity. She simply states the facts about her tragic family history (three women in her family have died of cancer) and her hope to make other women aware of their choices should they receive a similar diagnosis. This openness to share her personal struggle with all of us in hopes that we may gain knowledge from her experience—this is why we love her.
3. Jennifer Garner
Just this week, Jennifer accompanied her husband, Mr. Jennifer Garner (a.k.a. Ben Affleck), as he testified before the Senate appropriations committee about his work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But she's not just an audience member when it comes to activism. In fact, Affleck acknowledged that his wife's humanitarian efforts far surpass his in her work on behalf of children in the U.S. as part of Save the Children. A year ago Ms. Garner took a seat on the board of trustees for Save the Children, where she will serve a six-year term. She's already advocated on Capitol Hill and traveled to impoverished areas to bring awareness to children struggling in communities in this country.
4. Mariska Hargitay
Photograph by Instagram
You know her as Olivia Benson from "Law & Order SVU," but Ms. Hargitay isn't just someone who fights for justice on TV. In real life she founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, which helps victims of sexual assault heal and reclaim the joy in their lives. She says she founded the organization after getting fan letters from sexual assault survivors who identified with the story lines on Hargitay's show. She understood that survivors needed to be heard and supported on their journeys back to joy.
She's won more Tony Awards than any other actor. She's a super star of the highest order. Just last week she used her Twitter account to call out Indiana's governor Mike Pence for passing anti-gay laws in that state. She stood up for her band mates and the countless gay people affected by the new legislation. Her Twitter handle says it all: @AudraEqualityMc. She's the real deal.