S/ - - CONTENTS - SA­HAR NOORAEI Ed­i­tor-in-Chief sa­har.nooraei@con­tem­po­me­dia.com

Early on, I was aware of the strength I held as a woman; I couldn’t quite pin­point it, but I al­ways felt I could achieve any­thing my heart de­sired. Women also ruled my world, and they still do. I’ve never re­garded my gen­der as weak or lesser-than, and this wasn’t be­cause I was shel­tered from the stereo­types and com­ments that chase women through­out their en­tire lives. I just made the de­ci­sion at a young age to stand up for my­self when I faced any set­backs im­posed upon me be­cause of my sex.

I had the immense priv­i­lege of be­ing par­ented by two in­di­vid­u­als who, while strict, al­ways en­cour­aged me to be true to my­self, and to tap into my fe­male strength. They never told me to lower my voice when I was speak­ing my mind be­cause it wasn’t la­dy­like, to wear a dress be­cause that’s what girls did, or to take up dance be­cause it would be great for my fig­ure. And in ret­ro­spect, they were in many ways ahead of their time in the way they built my con­fi­dence as a woman.

As some­one who is told far too of­ten that they’re in­tim­i­dat­ing or too strong, I re­gard it less of an in­sult and more of a badge of hon­our. It’s that tena­cious fierce­ness that makes women great lead­ers, creators, men­tors, and col­lab­o­ra­tors. If any­one finds you too strong or too opin­ion­ated to be around, then they were never meant to be a part of your tribe.

This ques­tion has come up quite of­ten in the past year: how should we em­power women? My ad­vice is not to treat fe­male em­pow­er­ment as if it were some new phe­nom­e­non, but rather to con­tinue the con­ver­sa­tion with­out for­get­ting that it has al­ways ex­isted. We haven’t only now dis­cov­ered that we can stand up for our­selves; we’ve been do­ing it for­ever, be­hind closed doors, away from so­cial me­dia and click­bait head­lines.

Through­out the pages of our lat­est sum­mer is­sue, you’ll find ex­am­ples of un­apolo­getic, re­silient women who have over­come ca­reer and personal set­backs, and in turn come out on top and made big strides in the fields of fash­ion, beauty, art, and film. The road to in­de­pen­dence and em­pow­er­ment is some­thing that we all have within us— no mat­ter when we ar­rive at it.


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