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Career

Three outspoken stars who are using their influence to make a difference in this world

Celeste Barber, Jameela Jamil and Chrissy Teigen are not backwards in coming forwards with their views on issues that matter - and we love it!

A celebrity on a soapbox is nothing new, but as our news feeds fill with evidence of political unrest, gender inequality, and a worsening climate crisis, there are a few who stand out.
We've identified three outspoken stars who aren't just paying lip service to the important issues, they're leveraging their influence, mobilising the masses and actually effecting change.

Celeste Barber

Where you've seen her:
An All Saints and Home and Away alum, this Australian actress, comedienne, author and podcast host has more recently featured on Netflix dramedy The Letdown. You may also know her from Instagram, where her 'Celeste Barber Challenge' – which sees her recreate contrived portraits of celebrities and models with a healthy dash of realism – has amassed her nearly seven million followers.

What's her cause:
Not exactly the unrealistic standards of beauty perpetuated by the media. At least, this was never the point of the Celeste Barber Challenge. "I never started out for it to be a body positivity thing," she said of the project's genesis. "It was always just like, this is how celebrities get out of pools [and conversely], this is how I get out of the pool."
However, when she began noticing that images of herself in her underwear were being routinely deleted by social media moderators, and those of the underwear-clad models that she was satirising were not, she came to two realisations: first, that there was an insidious type of sexism at play, and second, that her social media presence might serve a purpose beyond making people laugh at her expense.
Compelled from that moment to use her platform for good, she's since expanded her remit beyond calling out sexist double-standards and into other areas – most notably fundraising for the recent Australia bushfires. Dismayed by the inaction of the Australian government and other powers that be, Celeste kicked off her own fundraiser on Facebook in early January, which within a matter of days had received more than $50 million in donations. That she could leverage her star power into such a significant sum was not only indicative of the sheer extent of her influence, it demonstrated the real, tangible impact that influence could have on communities in need, and one can't help but think there's more where that came from.
Why we're listening:
She's funny. And amid the earnestly curated images of toned, tanned bodies contorted into skeleton-defying yoga poses or just plain weird compositions (Kim Kardashian wearing fishnets in a dirt pit, anyone?), who wouldn't find that refreshing? But perhaps more importantly, she's a do-er, and having previously quipped about running for prime minister ("Well, it turns out any numpty can do it, so why not?") we want to see what she does next.

Chrissy Teigen

Where you've seen her:
She made her name as a Sports Illustrated model and has since carved out a respectable career as a cookbook author and occasional TV host. She also happens to be married to EGOT-winning singer/songwriter John Legend. His is a hard act to beat, but for her refusal to play by the rules of the internet (feeding the trolls is a favourite pastime), and her on-going Twitter beef with President Trump, Chrissy Teigen has all but eclipsed her husband's star in recent years, emerging as the unofficial clap-back queen of social media at a time when dissenting voices most need to be heard.

What's her cause:
In 2019, when a petulant POTUS referred to Chrissy as "John Legend's filthy mouthed wife", she wasted no time in tweeting back that he was a "puy a b*tch". Proof of her immense cultural influence and unnatural ability to distil the sentiments of millions into a sound-bite of 140 characters or less, the designation quickly became a trending hashtag.
Incredibly, the overly-sensitive US president had already made a big deal of blocking her in 2017 for the, in the grand scheme of things, fairly innocuous comment "No one likes you". Given that at least half of the US still believes Trump belongs in the White House, starting a war of words with him right now might read as a risky move for any mainstream entertainer. But as Chrissy told Vanity Fair, on whose December cover she, John and their two children featured beneath the cover line 'The First Family We Deserve!': "I don't care about pissing off a bunch of bigots." Indeed, with an impressive 28 million Instagram followers (this, compared to John's 11 million), and a further 12 million on Twitter, it would appear that herein lies her endlessly entertaining niche.

Why we're listening:
Trump's erratic social media persona might make him low-hanging fruit from a lite cyber-bullying standpoint, but there's still the troubling fact that he's one of the most powerful men on earth, and is directly and indirectly responsible for crimes and human rights abuses against the most vulnerable members of society. This certainly isn't lost on Chrissy, whose engagement with US politics and its figureheads you can expect to intensify this year against a backdrop of Trump's impeachment trial and the nation's 59th presidential election.

Jameela Jamil

Where you've seen her:
A successful television and radio presenter in the UK before landing a starring role in US comedy The Good Place, British-born, Los Angeles-based Jameela is almost more well-known for her activism, in particular, the conversations she drives around diet culture, body shaming and female and LGBTQI rights. Open about her harrowing experiences with – to name a few – eating disorders, mental illness, and attempted suicide, she regularly engages with her one million Twitter followers and almost three million Instagram followers, spreading messages of self-acceptance, tolerance and education as a mechanism for personal growth.

What's her cause:
Whereas 'body positivity' is commonly championed by celebrities and (insert side-eye) brands trying to recalibrate their public image, Jameela is an outspoken 'body neutralist'. Based on the idea that our bodies are just vehicles that enable us to move through the world – nothing more, nothing less – body neutrality rejects any sort of value being attached to the way we look
(appearance-based self-love included) in favour of a totally neutral stance that frees up our energy for more important things.

What's important to Jameela? Dismantling the patriarchy. In fact, the perceived inextricability of these two things is what led her to launch the Instagram movement @i_weigh in 2018. Encouraging women to see themselves as a composite of unique achievements and personality traits as opposed to a number on a scale ("I weigh my financial independence, my writing, my incredible friends, the depression I beat" reads one of Jameela's posts), the account also mobilises women all over the world by sharing resources like voter registration forms and information on important marches and events.

Why we're listening:
"I truly believe that making women obsessed with their image is a clever way to take our eyes off the ball," explains Jameela in an interview about what motivated @i_weigh. "It means we're not thinking about business as much as we could, we're not sleeping as much as we could, we're not able to grow the things that matter in our lives because we're so busy panicking about our bodies," she says. "What a genius way to stop us from becoming equal. How can we be as powerful as men when we're worried all the time?"
How, indeed?

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