Taylor Swift, Rihanna and More on the Joys, Challenges and Importance of Womanhood (Exclusive)
By Antoinette Bueno
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Friday marks International Women's Day, and in its honor, ET is revisiting some of our favorite interviews with stars discussing what it means to be part of womanhood -- whether that means resisting against society's pressures, banding together to make change, or making sure there is representation for those who don't often get the opportunity to be seen or heard.
From dishing on their famous friendships to openly discussing the pressures they feel as women, let's take a look back at these stars' thoughts on being powerful women -- and all of the joys, trials and complexities that come along with it.
Perhaps no other star has been so vocal about the importance of close female friendships than Taylor Swift, who counts Selena Gomez, Karlie Kloss and Camila Cabello as just some of the A-listers in her famous squad. In 2015, Swift talked to ET about the common bond between her and her gal-pals -- "sincerity."
"They truly mean what they say, and they're honest," Swift told ET about her besties. "There's sort of an unspoken code that we're there for each other, and we would never turn on each other. We're not gonna gossip about each other. It's kind of an alliance that is the best kind of friendship you can have."
Swift also spoke with ET about society's pressure on women to fit a certain image -- and how she was fighting back.
"I don't feel great when I am fed messages, and I was fed messages as a young girl that it is more important to be edgy and sexy and cool than anything else," Swift shared. "I don't think those are the right messages to feed girls, and I think they are given those messages by the popular cliques in their school, which is all kind of cascading down from the media and what we seem to prioritize in women."
"My life doesn’t gravitate towards being edgy, sexy or cool," she pointed out. "I'm imaginative, I'm smart and I'm hardworking."
Natalie Portman talked with ET about society's often narrow expectations of both men and women at the Variety Power of Women event last October, in relation to raising both her 7-year-old son, Aleph, and her 1-year-old daughter, Amalia.
“Well, I want a different world for both my kids,” she told ET. “I have a girl and a boy, and I want both of them to grow up with different ideas of opportunity, of behavior, of the options opened to them because both boys and girls are limited by a system that expects very, very specific things from boys and from girls. Everyone's options are limited because of this.”
Charlize Theron -- who's kicked some serious butt on-screen in films like Atomic Blonde, effectively demolishing the notion that women can't be action stars -- told ET at the same event, "I think it's incredible that we acknowledge women who do stand up and go against the stream and do things outside the box, and then can celebrate each other. I think that's beautiful."
Helping women to feel empowered is obviously important to Selena Gomez, who talked to ET at the 2017 Billboard Women in Music event in Los Angeles about what it meant to be named "Woman of the Year."
"I'm very honored. I really am. I think right now, especially with everything going on in my industry, it's empowering to see the voice women have right now," Gomez said. "It's crucial and it's important. Sometimes I feel like a lot of that attention should go to more of that."
And of course, there's the issue of making sure all women feel included and empowered, which is being championed by none other than Rihanna. The singer has found success with her massively popular Fenty Beauty line -- which offers a wide range of shades to complement every skin tone -- as well as her Savage X Fenty lingerie collection that celebrates women of all shapes and sizes.
"Women love to be sexy and you can't tell a woman she can't be sexy because she's a certain shape, size, or color --- inclusivity is such a huge part of my brand," she explained to ET last September at her Savage X Fenty lingerie collection show during New York Fashion Week.
"For me, it might not be the same as for another lady," she pointed out about her own lingerie preferences. "I think it has to be something that makes you feel the sexiest… I have those months when I'm like, 'Girl, you're not gonna fit into that thing. You're gonna have to do a little slip.' But fine! A slip works. A slip makes me feel sexy and I'll just do that."
"I think women's bodies are designed so differently, uniquely, that they should just do what makes them feel best and sexiest," she continued.
And times are definitely changing. In recent years, women in Hollywood have banded together to show support and make some serious change, such as championing the Time's Up movement that took over the 2018 Golden Globes red carpet. Almost all the stars in attendance wore black in solidarity of the movement, which is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.
"We wear black for so many reasons," Eva Longoria explained to ET at the Golden Globes that year. "We wear black to say, 'Time's up' on the imbalance of power and abuse of power. We wear black for all the women and whistleblowers that came forward: Asia Argento, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, Olivia Munn, Gabrielle Union, Terry Crews."
"Anthony Rapp. People who were so brave to tell their stories first," added Reese Witherspoon, who walked the red carpet with Longoria. "And we're standing here because of the courage they had and also, women in all industries and men in all industries that are standing up and saying, 'Enough' with discrimination and harassment and abuse. We deserve equality and time is up."
"When I was a kid, I remember any time two big singers would get together that people were fans of... I remember, like, Mariah and Whitney Houston did it," she recalled. "The sad thing is, a lot of times people pit [Pink and I] against each other. And that happened right before our records came out. They're like, 'Who's going to top each other?' I was like, 'Why can't we both just be successful?' It's just one of those things where, I feel like they don't do that to men. So, it's really cool that Pink and I get this opportunity to show people like, 'Hey! Everybody can be successful, there's plenty of talent to go around, plenty of love to go around.' We're all different, but at the same time, we all love music and that's why we're here."
Later, she talked to ET about women striving for female empowerment together becoming more common.
"Not in a negative way of calling people out, I mean calling women together," she explained. "I think even the performance I got to do recently was so cool because we're two powerhouses in this industry, but at the same time, there's room for everyone. Everyone can love each other's art and everybody can be successful. We don't always have to be pitted against each other, and I feel like they do that a lot with women, and so it was just a very cool thing to be a part of -- just to be reminded of. I feel like this whole year has been about that."
"It feels really amazing," she acknowledged. "A lot of people think it’s supposed to be a catty thing, and it just feels good when other women show love to each other, and they don’t know how much that means to me though. One day they might need a kidney and I might give you mine and I barely drink, so mine might be good.”
On another poignant note, Brie Larson's highly anticipated Captain Marvel hits theaters on International Women's Day, marking the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first-ever standalone film centered on a female hero. Larson posed alongside dozens of female fans dressed as Captain Marvel on the carpet, a testament to the impact that a film like Captain Marvel can have on a fan base yearning for representation among their favorite comic characters.
"It's special," Larson told ET of the meaningful date when we spoke to her at the film's premiere on March 4. "It just shows that they're being pointed, as well, about what this movie means, or what it can mean."
Former Glee star Naya Rivera also spoke to ET about what International Women's Day means to her, calling it "a day to celebrate all that it means to be a woman" and the "incredible achievements and progress we’ve made over the years and how we continue to inspire, educate, nurture, and love."
"It’s nice to have a day that reminds us of how far we have come," she continued.
The 32-year-old actress, who plays Colette Jones on Step Up: High Water, hopes that she can be an influence to women and girls just like her. "I hope to inspire those around me through the strides and things I have done thus far in my life and career," she explained.
As for who inspires her, Rivera shared, "There are so many women all over the world inspire me daily. My mother, friends, sister, and mentors continue to impart wisdom, and inspiration on me, and for that, I am truly grateful."
Additional reporting by Desiree Murphy.
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