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Viola Davis on the moment she realized she didn't have to lose weight for a role.

"You come into my world and you sit with me, my size, my hue, my age, and you ... you sit, and you experience."

Viola Davis on the moment she realized she didn't have to lose weight for a role.

Viola Davis delivered a show-stopping speech when she received the first- ever #SeeHer Award at the Critics' Choice Awards.

The award was created by the #SeeHer campaign, which strives to eliminate bias against women in the media.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.


As the first black actress to ever win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama, Davis is no stranger to bias. However, that's not quite what she chose to focus on Sunday evening.

She spoke of another major limiting factor that most women in the entertainment industry (and around the world) grapple with every day: body image and body-shaming.  

GIF via A&E/YouTube.

Many actresses find themselves typecast based on their size or asked to lose weight for roles, and Davis' experience has been no different. This mentality of always needing to be thinner is one that has, unfortunately, become ingrained in society at large.

When Davis got the part of Annalise Keating on "How to Get Away With Murder," a role she said was somewhat outside her "type," her knee-jerk reaction was "I need to lose weight." She didn't feel like she was glamorous enough, pretty enough, or thin enough be the lead of a TV series.

Then, in a triumphant moment of her speech, she said she realized just how wrong she was:

GIF via A&E/YouTube.

It's not surprising, considering the pressure of taking on the starring role of a drama series. But the fact that her first thought was about losing weight shows just how much things still need to change. Thankfully, Davis, in all her powerhouse glory, is leading the way.

Her speech articulated the importance of embracing yourself, no matter your size, shape, age, or color.

It was humble, inspiring, and exactly what women everywhere need to hear.

GIF via A&E/YouTube.

Here it is in its entirety (emphasis added):

“Thank you. It’s hard to accept being a role model for women when you’re trying to lose weight. But, it’s true. I’ve always discovered the heart of my characters, I guess, by asking, ‘Why?’

You know, when I was handed Annalise Keating, I said, ‘She’s sexy, she’s mysterious, you know?’ I’m used to playing women who gotta gain 40 pounds and have to wear an apron. So I said, ‘Oh God, I gotta to lose weight, I gotta learn how to walk like Kerry Washington in heels, you know, I gotta lose my belly.’ And then I asked myself, ‘Well, why do I have to do all that?’

I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, and I just recently embraced that at 51. I think my strongest power is that at 10 o’clock every Thursday night, I want you to come into my world. I am not going to come into yours. You come into my world and you sit with me, my size, my hue, my age, and you ... you sit, and you experience. And I think that’s the only power I have as an artist, so I thank you for this award. And I do see her, just like I see me.”



Davis is definitely not the only celebrity standing up for body positivity in the face of professional scrutiny.

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images.

In August, Alicia Keys showed up to the MTV Video Music Awards wearing no makeup, something she has committed to doing regularly to show the world she's done with judgment and confirming beauty standards.

Kate Winslet, another award-winning actress, still struggles with body image issues but repeats this mantra to herself and daughter regularly: "We are so lucky we have a shape. We’re so lucky we’re curvy. We’re so lucky that we’ve got good bums."

Pop star Adele, actress Melissa McCarthy, and model Ashley Graham were voted most influential body-positive celebrities of 2016 by clothing company Gwynnie Bee for their consistent, no-nonsense body-positive advocacy.

Women are making major strides to fight fat-shaming in Hollywood, but the battle's far from over.

With stunning female forces like Davis constantly pushing for change, things are looking up. There's a major spotlight on the issue, which will make it much harder for future scrutiny to go unobserved. While Davis admits to occasionally feeling like she has to lose weight (body issues are complicated, and often ongoing even when you recognize the social pressures behind them), she's not letting those insecurities rule her life or limit what she believes she can do.

So the next time you find yourself feeling like you have to change to fit someone else's expectations — even if they're your own — take a note from Davis, and honestly ask yourself: "Why?"

Watch Davis' whole acceptance speech here:

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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