'Smart Girls Speak Out': Rowan Blanchard and Yara Shahidi Cover 'Teen Vogue''s December Issue

The future is, absolutely, female.
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Rowan Blanchard and Yara Shahidi for "Teen Vogue," December 2016. Photo: Sean Thomas/"Teen Vogue"

Rowan Blanchard and Yara Shahidi for "Teen Vogue," December 2016. Photo: Sean Thomas/"Teen Vogue"

After a very difficult week for many of us, Teen Vogue has come through with the content our souls needed: On Friday morning, the magazine revealed its December issue, which is fronted and guest-edited by actresses and activists Rowan Blanchard and Yara Shahidi — aged 15 and 16, respectively — featuring the cover line "Smart Girls Speak Up!". 

The images by photographer Sean Thomas alone are stunning, with the set being what appears to be a high school in Southern California. But it's the words, particularly the transcribed discussion between Blanchard and Shahidi, that are truly empowering. The cover story is, at times, gut-wrenching — it's clear that the issue was pegged to the hopeful, presumed election of Hillary Clinton — but it's uplifting to read all the same. Take this quote from Blanchard, for instance:

Like [activist] DeRay McKesson says, "You're not born woke"; it's such a learning process. I started thinking about the feminism I was initially being sold, which was basically that boys and girls should be equal. But there are intersections, and a lot of reasons why it is easier for me to achieve that equality than it is for some of my friends. You have to always question your politics: Am I being as inclusive as I possibly can? Is this thing that I said, could it be xenophobic? My worst fear is someone writing, "Rowan Blanchard, queen of feminism!" I'm like no. I am figuring this out just as much as you are. I am constantly trying to check my privilege. I sometimes get worried that my feminism is, like, too American. We can get lost in Taylor Swift fighting Kanye West instead of being like, there are so many Syrian refugees!

Blanchard and Shahidi support each other throughout the interview; they challenge each other to work harder, to voice what they believe in even louder. They are beautiful and brilliant and motivating, and today, we count our blessings that we have a publication like Teen Vogue to provide them a platform. The future is still, absolutely, female. 

Teen Vogue's December issue hits newsstands on Nov. 15. In the meantime, you can read Blanchard and Shahidi's full cover story over at TeenVogue.com, along with a heartwarming discussion between Zendaya and First Lady Michelle Obama. We'd say it's required (and hopeful) reading at the end of a week like this one.

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