#ThrowbackThursday: Serena Williams Wins the Australian Open, 2017

Serena Williams at the 2017 Australian Open (Indian Express)

United States’ Serena Williams celebrates after winning the first set against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In January, tennis superstar Serena Williams beat her sister, fellow tennis star Venus Williams, in the final set of the Australian Open. The win was her seventh Australian Open title, and 23rd Grand Slam singles title. Williams is now back to being the #1-ranked tennis player in the world.

Williams was also in the early weeks of pregnancy during the Australian Open. So there’s that.

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Trends: Muslim Firsts in Popular Culture

Halima Aden covering 'CR Fashion Book' (CR Fashion Book)

Halima Aden covering ‘CR Fashion Book’ (CR Fashion Book)

Recently, Muslims in the U.S. have gained prominence in a series of firsts in mainstream culture.

Last year, Halima Aden competed in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant. Aden wears hijab, and wore a burkini during the swimsuit portion of the event. Though she didm’t win the title, people took notice of her, especially the fashion industry. IMG Models recently signed Aden, who’s now their first hijabi model. (It’s important to note that while Aden is the first hijabi model for the company, she is not their first Muslim model.) Aden recently appeared on the cover of CR Fashionbook, where the headline cemented her one-name-only status (similar to that of Iman, who interviewed Aden for the issue).

Earlier this week, actor Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Moonlight.” This wasn’t a surprise: Ali had been winning awards at all of the awards running up the Oscars. But Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award. He spoke about converting to Islam in his acceptance speech for male actor in a supporting role at this year’s SAG Awards, where he warned against letting the minutia of differences overtake the similarities.

Hopefully this exposure normalizes Muslims for people who may not have met one in person. I hope this is just the start of more prominent Muslims in pop culture to come.

#ThrowbackThursday: Halima Aden’s Burkini, 2016

Halima Aden's burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, 2016 (WFDD).jpg

Halima Aden’s burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, 2016 (WFDD).jpg

In November 2016, Halima Aden competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Naturally, the pageant had the typical swimsuit portion. While other contestants strutted out in colorful bikinis, Aden went in a different direction. The Somalian model chose to put her Muslim faith front and center. She wears hijab, and wore a burkini for the swimsuit portion of the event.

Aden is the first woman to compete in hijab and burkini. Though she didn’t take home the title, Aden’s sartorial choice and adherence to her values made headlines.

Viola Davis Makes Record with Oscar Win

Viola Davis Oscar win, 2017 (TV Insider)

Viola Davis Oscar win, 2017 (TV Insider)

Viola Davis (a.k.a QUEEN VIOLA) won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in “Fences.” (She also gave an excellent acceptance speech.) This wasn’t remotely a surprise, as she was CLEANING UP during awards season. This win has now ushered Davis into an upper echelon of artists that many people don’t achieve.

When she was nominated for the award, Davis started making history right out of the gate.   She became the first Black actor or actress to receive three Oscar nominations. (Her two previous nominations were for “Doubt” in 2008, and “The Help” in 2011.) This year’s Best Supporting Actress nominations was the first time three Black women were nominated, and the second time three non-white women were nominated.

With her win, Davis has hit other records. She’s now the 23rd person to win what’s called the triple crown of acting: a Tony, an Emmy, and a “competitive” (a.k.a. non-honorary) Oscar. Davis is also the first Black actor to achieve this feat, winning Tony for “King Hedley II” in 2001, and “Fences” in 2010, and an Emmy for “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2015.

This club is a rare one indeed. Davis is the first actress of her generation to achieve this honor. She even beat perennial-nominee-for-everything Meryl Streep to the punch.

Davis also has three out of the four awards required for an EGOT “grand slam:” Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (though one could argue that Davis herself brings the G). The Grammys don’t honor acting, so the EGOT is more about versatility in the entertainment industry.

Jeanette Epps Will Be the First Black Astronaut to Board the International Space Station

Jeanette Epps (Wikipedia)

Jeanette Epps (Wikipedia)

Earlier this month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that Astronaut Jeanette Epps will join the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2018. History was made with this announcement: Epps will be the first Black woman to join the ISS.

Epps will be NASA’s 15th Black astronaut, the fifth Black female astronaut. She’ll be part of Expedition 56 and all of Expedition 57.

This will be Epps’ first flight into space, and I’m sure she’ll kill it.

 

New York City Issues the First U.S. Intersex Birth Certificate

Sara Kelly Keenan (LGBTQ Nation)

Sara Kelly Keenan (LGBTQ Nation)

In December 2016, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene re-issued a birth certificate to Sara Kelly Keenan. The action made history: Keenan’s corrected birth certificate denoted her intersex identity. (Keenan uses female pronouns.) The new birth certificate is the first one ever in the U.S. to note the gender identity.

The term “intersex” refers to a physical condition where one’s anatomy does not fully line up as either male or female. Keenan is “genetically male with female genitalia and mixed internal reproductive anatomy.” When Keenan was born, her birth certificate originally read “male,” but was changed to “female” three weeks later.

This change has been a long time coming, seeing as Keenan is 55 years old. She’s seen a lot of changes, especially within the fields of reproductive health and anatomy: When Keenan was born, “hermaphrodite” was the commonly accepted term for her condition.

Previous to the birth certificate change, Keenan had self-identified as non-binary (that is, neither male nor female).

“Glamour” Publishes All-Women, No-Photoshop Issue

'Glamour 'magazine, February 2017 (Refinery29)

‘Glamour ‘magazine, February 2017 (Refinery29)

Fashion magazines are becoming woke as never before: “Glamour” magazine’s February 2017 will be feature no Photoshopping within its pages. If you’ve every picked up a women’s fashion magazine in the history of ever, you know this is no small feat.

Another thing: the issue will feature all women. Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive breaks down what exactly this means:

We’ve decided to support women in the most meaningful way we can: by hiring them.From first page to our last every photo we commissioned for the February issue was created by women: photographers, stylists, hair, makeup, everything.

Clearly, “Glamour” puts its money where its mouth is. In her letter for readers, Leive declares that this issue’s changes were born of changing the norm. Even for a women’s magazine, women contributors were few and far between. For last fall’s content, Leive notes that only 37% of the print photographers who were used were women, and only 32% of the hairstylists were women.