Speak On It

Celebrate Women today!

Today is International Women’s Day; a time to celebrate all things female and feel even more proud to be a woman.

I’m lucky enough to have met some extraordinary, inspirational women in all my 25 years. I have a mum I idolise, a sister who I love dearly, best friends, aunties and cousins who I hugely respect and here at Illamasqua I get to work with the iconic make-up artist, Alex Box and an amazing team of ladies in the PR and Social Media department.

When looking back at heroines of our time, it’s clear to see how they got their iconic status and how they’ve managed to remain at the top of the iconic women leader board.

Emmeline Pankhurst – British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote. Without Pankhurst, we might never have won this fight.

Germaine Greer – Significant feminine voice of the 20th century, as well as best-selling author, journalist and scholar of English Literature. Greer is known for her controversial feminist views, such as “all societies on the verge of death are masculine – a society can survive with only one man but no society can survive a shortage of women.”  She. Is. Great.

Princess Diana – First wife of Prince Charles, known for her fundraising for international charities and being the ‘People’s Princess’. She always looked beautiful, elegant, proud and professional. Famous for her huge heart of gold. “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” Diana, Princess of Wales.

Cleopatra – Became sole ruler of Egypt, as Pharoah had relations with Julius Caesar, had a son and elevated him to co-ruler. Cleopatra oozed sex appeal and to this day her elaborate, ornate style influences trends.

Marilyn Monroe – 1950’s actress, singer and MAJOR sex symbol. She made curves acceptable, sexy and enviable. I’m sure if Marilyn was here today, Beyonce would be thanking her. “I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful. ” Marilyn Monroe.

Each season of the fashion calendar we’re reminded of many of these ladies in the make-up and fashion trends we see on the catwalks. We’re proud to replicate their looks and have prints of them in the hallway.

But what makes a female icon of today? Chaining yourself to St Pauls in protest? Becoming the first female to become Managing Director of a football club at the age of 23 and being Lord Sugar’s right hand woman? Or is it sleeping with your brother in law who just happens to be one of the most famous premiership footballers or perhaps arriving on the red carpet in an egg?


With many magazine covers now showing some D List celebrity with digitally enhanced cellulite or having a “bad hair day” it’s slightly concerning that these women will become the icons of the “tensies”. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reality shows such as the TV show The Only Way Is Essex. I watch it twice a week and am slightly distraught when a work event comes up on a Wednesday evening. But I’m not sure if I care enough to see it on every shelf in WHSmiths. Of course there isn’t a headline with the image saying “please take this as red that you should idolise these ladies”, but with the media’s power of persuasion, it’s inevitable that young girls will grow up strongly influenced by these front covers.

Take Cheryl Cole for example. As an X factor judge, she was in the firing line every Saturday night. She looked stunning walking to her judges chair each week, while we were at home anticipating “what will Chezza wear this week”? We’d read about how Cheryl is wearing her hair today or what Cheryl wore to Tesco. Then we saw headlines about the not so successful move to American X Factor. “ Disappointment for Cheryl Cole; the nation’s sweetheart….” Are we forgetting she was arrested for punching a toilet attendant a few years ago? Is this the sweetheart we want for our nation?


Kate Moss is the super duper model of our time winning second place on Forbes top-earning model list in 2007. Famous for Calvin Klein, Gucci and Chanel campaigns, her Kate Moss @Topshop collection, “getting the London look” with her Rimmel ads, introducing the heroine chic trend in the 1990’s and her most influential one liner – “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. (She’s obviously never had a McDonald’s cheeseburger).







The late, great Amy Winehouse. No one could argue she became a music legend due to her incredible song writing, award winning albums and beautiful soulful voice. However, unfortunately what a lot of people will know her for, are the tragic pap shots, fatal drug and alcohol addiction and destructive relationship with husband, Blake. That doesn’t stop people competing with the height of her bee hive and replicating her tattoos.





I am a huge fan of Beyonce. Her career mindedness is admirable, her professionalism – you never see her falling out of cabs drunk, she comes across as a lovely family woman and to top it all off she is stunning! I have curves and growing up with Destiny’s Child made it a lot easier, knowing I would never be a size 6 but could still shake what my mama gave me. But would I say she’s my idol? I’m not so sure.




Times, they are a-changing and of course we can’t live in the 19th century forever, waiting for the next female protest or any excuse to burn our bras. But is the word “icon” used to easily? Do we still have true heroines of today or are we now just talking about style icons? Is style the most important thing to replicate these days? Do we care about people’s morals and the message they’re portraying?

This is all my opinion of course, but I’d love to hear from you. Who are your idols? What makes an icon in your opinion?


Govinder Rayt

Govinder Rayt

Writer and expert