What do you get when you mix the sporting prowess of Jessica Ennis, the dignity of Doreen Lawrence and Stella McCartney’s style? One hell of a hot list
How will we remember 2012? As the year of the Olympics? For the Jubilee celebrations? World-changing events in politics, economics and society? Cultural achievements? Great songs, films, TV shows? Or the fact that we survived beyond December 21, the day the Mayans predicted the world would end? Whatever, when history books are written, there is one fact they will agree on: 2012 was the Year Of The Woman. From the Queen acting James Bond off the screen at the Olympics opening ceremony and Jessica Ennis setting that stadium alight on Super Saturday, to the extraordinary courage of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai – gunned down for daring to believe women deserved the right to education – and the effortless glamour and compassion of Michelle Obama, women have dominated the year, at home and abroad, in just about every area of our lives. And so we present Fabulous’ own Fab 40: the women who made 2012 the great year that it was. Prepare to be inspired.
1) Jessica Ennis, 26
The queen of London 2012 and runner-up in BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year. Nuff said.
2) Nicola Adams, 30
The Yorkshire girl punched her way to gold – and won our heart in the process – becoming Britain’s first female boxing Olympic medallist.
3) Laura Trott, 20
She started the summer billed as “the new Victoria Pendleton”. After picking up two gold medals in the velodrome, she’s now rightly known as The Only Laura Trott.
4) Victoria Pendleton, 32
Winning gold and silver was the perfect way for V-Pends to bow out, and she cemented her status as one of the greatest ever British cyclists into the bargain.
5) Heather Watson, 20
This year, the British No.1 became the first Brit female to win a WTA singles tennis title in 24 years, scooping the trophy in Japan in October. Wimbledon 2013, watch out.
6) Sarah Storey, 35
Five Paralympic swimming gold medals in ’92 and ’96 wasn’t enough – Sarah switched to cycling, bagged another two golds in Beijing, then four more this summer. She even found time to fall pregnant. Sarah, we salute you.
7) Katherine Grainger, 37
After silvers in three successive Games, this was the year rower Kat finally got the gold medal she so richly deserved.
8) Ellie Simmonds, 18
The teenager with the smile that lit up the world was one of the stars of the Paralympic Games. Her two golds, one silver and one bronze speak for themselves.
Entertainment & Culture
1) Beyoncé, 31
The coolest woman in the world became the coolest mum in the world after baby Blue Ivy Carter was born in January. How we swooned over the family pics with rapper hubby Jay-Z… And despite a quiet year musically, she still managed 16th place in Forbes magazine Celebrity 100 power list. Respect.
2) Katie Holmes, 33
The end of TomKat was a sensational story – but Katie’s battle for custody of Suri against both Tom and, seemingly, the might of the Church of Scientology saw her become, in our eyes, nothing less than a heroine.
3) Hilary Mantel, 60
The Brit novelist became the first woman in history to bag the prestigious Booker Prize twice, when her latest novel Bring Up The Bodies – the second part of a trilogy on the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell – won in October this year. Impressive.
4) Tulisa, 24
Taking on her sex tape ex, Justin Edwards, in court and winning gave Tulisa her “You go, girl!” moment. And we loved her for it.
5) Pussy Riot
The Russian punk trio screamed their way into the world headlines when their anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral saw them jailed. One of them was reversed last month, but two – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (above), 23, and Maria Alyokhina, 24 – remain in Russian prison camps; a symbol of struggle against oppression.
6) Adele, 24
Of course, there was the Bond theme. But Adele’s big achievement this year has been becoming a mum without the usual showbiz fuss. And the coolest thing of all? She hasn’t bothered to tell us her son’s name yet.
7) Rihanna, 24
Barely a day passed without a RiRi controversy, then in November she released her seventh album in seven years. It was No.1. Again.
8) Jennifer Lawrence, 22
A year ago, she was known mostly to artsy film-buff types – now, thanks to the phenomenal Hunger Games, she’s the hottest property in Hollywood and, according to Rolling Stone, “the most talented young actress in America”.
9) Clare Balding, 41
Jessica Ennis was the poster girl for London 2012, but Clare became the nation’s best-loved aunt during the Games – her warmth, enthusiasm, expertise and obvious joy at the whole occasion made her the most watchable woman on TV.
10) Sarah Lund
If Danish dramas are the new rock ’n’ roll, The Killing’s Sarah Lund is the a modern-day Elvis Presley. Only with hip jumpers. Played by actress Sofie Gråbøl, 44, Sarah is the most brilliant policewoman ever to appear on TV.
11) Nicole Scherzinger, 34
Schamazing! Is she mad? Was she drunk? Who cares! Nicole became our hero purely for that hilarious X Factor scene with Jahmene pricing up Asda stock.
12) Ella Henderson, 16
The schoolgirl with the voice to send shivers down your spine captivated us from the first note of her X Factor audition. How did she not win?
13) Lena Dunham, 26
She both created and starred in this year’s must-see show Girls, the first comedy drama to show what sex is really like for ordinary young women (ie a bit messy, a bit funny, a bit tragic). If that isn’t reason enough to hail her as genius, in October it was announced that she’s signed a £2.2million deal with publishers Random House for her first book. Awesome.
14) Emeli Sandé, 25
After performing at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games, the Aberdeenshire lass with the great hair and the powerhouse voice has the world at her feet. And quite rightly so.
Best of the rest
1) Michelle Obama, 48
It was a pretty good year for her husband Barack, but Michelle continued to show she is still the straight-up coolest First Lady the White House has ever seen. From crusading against childhood obesity to writing a book about her White House vegetable garden and wearing a host of fab designer gowns, she made us want her as both our mum and our best mate.
2) Kate Middleton, 30
The hair! The outfits! The pregnancy! We are officially still completely obsessed.
3) The Queen, 86
She celebrated 60 years on the throne – and looks like she could manage 60 more.
4) The Birmingham 174
Dubbed “The Abdulla Group”, these 174 ladies, including Joan Clulow, 71 (pictured), struck a righteous blow for women when they took the local council to court over equal pay discrepancies going back decades – and won.
5) Marie Colvin, 56
The peerless Sunday Times journalist inspired countless women through her bold reporting and brilliant writing. She was tragically killed fleeing a building that was being shelled this February, while reporting the Siege of Homs in Syria. She is very much missed.
6) Doreen Lawrence, 60
Nineteen years after the brutal murder of her son Stephen, Doreen has refused to give up her fight for justice. Two of the gang who killed her son, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in January. She is now an advisor to the Home Office, and appeared in the Olympics opening ceremony.
7) Marissa Mayer, 37
The 21st most powerful businesswoman in America (according to Forbes this year) swapped the vice-presidency of Google to become CEO of Yahoo! On the same day she was offered the job she announced her pregnancy, and gave birth on September 30. Officially, Supermum.
8) Malala Yousafzai, 15
The Pakistani girl was shot in the head by the Taliban – for saying women should be educated. She’s recovering in a Birmingham hospital, and there’s a campaign to see her awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
9) Maria Santos Gorrostieta, 36
Maria was hailed as a heroine when she became mayor of the Tiquicheo district, west of Mexico City. She was determined to stand up to drug cartels. But having survived two assassination attempts, the mum of three was abducted in November and her mutilated body was found days later.
10) Stella McCartney, 41
The designer was Team GB’s creative director, and came up with the trendy garb worn by our Olympic and Paralympic stars.
11) Tracey McCourt, 44
When her brother-in-law, Lenny, 44, died in the cells of Peterlee police station, County Durham, in 2010, she refused to accept the authorities’ version of events – and, unable to afford legal aid, took on two barristers herself. Durham constabulary has since promised to investigate possible misconduct.
1) Tammy Baldwin, 50
This year’s US election may be remembered for many reasons, but amid the relief of Obama returning to office was another victory, as Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay US woman senator.
2) Theresa May, 56
The Home Secretary and campaigner for gender equality rolled out Clare’s Law. Started in the name of murdered Clare Wood, it aims to protect women from violent partners.
3) Valérie Trierweiler, 47
Top French political journalist and partner of François Hollande, France’s President. Formidable!
4) Julia Gillard, 51
The Aussie PM called a male politician sexist in a fist-pumpingly good speech. YouTube it.
5) Angela Merkel, 58
During a year in which the European Union has lurched from one crisis to the next, it sometimes seems like the German Chancellor is the only thing holding the whole institution together. Whatever else you think about the EU, you have to admire her sheer strength of will.
6) Christine Lagarde, 56
The Head of the International Monetary Fund in a time of global financial crisis had to be a strong character. In Christine we’ve got someone who combines steel with style.
7) Aung San Suu Kyi, 67
In April this year, Aung San Suu Kyi, the brave Burmese politician who had been placed under house arrest for 15 long years, was able to take her seat in Parliament as Leader of the Opposition. She was alsofinally able to accept her Nobel Peace Prize – two decades after actually winning it.
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