'Proud to be a woman and a feminist': Meghan Markle's royal bio is here, and it's amazing.

Meghan Markle just turned the royal family upside down in all the best ways.

Markle's welcome into the royal family marked a significant cultural and historical shift. She's an American. She's biracial. She's a divorcee. None of those things are a big deal on this side of the pond, but we're talking about the British monarchy, where tradition and formality are defined. And with Markle's marriage to Prince Harry, those definitions are changing.

Photo via WPA Pool/Getty Images.


The wedding itself, including a rousing sermon by a black American bishop and the distinct flavor of a full gospel choir, was a testament to such change. Watching a person of color take her place in the royal family of England was historic, and the way black culture was honored and celebrated in the ceremony made a clear statement of progress.

But that's not where the story ends.  

In her official royal bio, the duchess of Sussex unapologetically pronounced her feminism.

It's one thing to be an outspoken feminist before joining the British monarchy. It's another to make it a hallmark of your royal biography.

Markle's official bio on the royal family's website starts off traditionally enough, describing her marriage to Harry and where they are living. Then it dives into Markle's lifelong work for "social justice and women's empowerment," including how "she successfully campaigned for a company to alter their television advert that had used sexist language to sell washing-up liquid" when she was 11. (That's dishwashing soap, by the way.)

Photo via WPA Pool/Getty Images.

The bio highlights her involvement with One World Vision, her role as the U.N. women's advocate for women's political participation and leadership, and her appointment as global ambassador for World Vision.

But right in the middle of that, this quote from Markle is called out in large, bold font:

"I am proud to be a woman and a feminist."

Welp. There you go. Of all the quotes that could have been included, that's the one they went with. Straight up. Bold. Simple. Proud to be a feminist.

For proof of how feminism changes the landscape, see "menstrual hygiene products" on the royal website.

Never would I have imagined the words "menstrual hygiene" on the royal family's website. And yet, here we are.

"In 2017, her royal highness undertook a second learning mission with the organisation when she visited India with World Vision to bring a greater awareness to girls' lack of access to education," it reads. "In the slum communities of Mumbai, the duchess witnessed the work of the Myna Mahila Foundation who empower women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities. Struck by her experience, she wrote an op-ed for Time magazine about the stigmatization of menstrual health management and its long term hindrance to girls' education."

Employees at the Myna Mahila Foundation in Mumbai, which provides menstrual products to disadvantaged women and works to end the stigma surrounding menstruation. Photo via Indranil Mukherjee/Getty Images.

It may seem silly to make a big deal out of seeing the word "menstrual" in royal communications, but it is a big deal. Social stigma surrounding menstruation is universal in various ways, and that's only going to change if it's brought into the light and talked about openly.

Now, because of Markle's work on this issue — and because she and Harry asked for donations to the Myna Mahila Foundation in lieu of gifts — menstrual stigma is now forced into the global conversation in a very natural way. Boom. Feminism at its finest.

I can't wait to see what the duchess does next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less