Illustration: Elena Scotti (Photos: Getty Images)
Year in Review 2019Year in Review 2019Remembering the year that you, me, and everyone we know was canceled. Rest in peace

The women that inspired Jezebel this year to be better people are an eclectic bunch, much like the strong and feral group of women that power this blog to successful fruition every single day. Included in our list of honorees are memes, private investigators, people that truly matter, and also a cartoon pig whose head is shaped like a hairdryer: a group of women that truly define heroism in their own special ways.


Peppa Pig

There is a beauty in Peppa Pig’s philosophical ethos, which hinges on the understanding that we’re all just kids at heart, waddling from one crisis to the next, always ready to learn and grow. Despite being undermined and belittled by the mainstream press for being an animated cartoon pig baby, Peppa Pig quickly rose to the top of the music charts, dominating the airwaves and capturing the hearts and minds of listeners across the globe. Fearless, funny, and uniquely talented, Peppa Pig inspired me to be myself, embrace the wackier aspects of my life, and never give up on learning how to spell. Her unabashed love of life; from hanging with Expert Daddy Pig, to taking a trip to the Bing Bong Zoo, helped me reconnect with the simple pleasure of existing in the world. —Joan Summers

Megan Thee Stallion’s Knees

It’s common knowledge that as we age, we lose mobility in our limbs. Things I could do in my youth, like dropping dangerously low to the ground on the dancefloor or in my bedroom, increasingly become difficult or uncomfortable at best. This doesn’t stop me from doing it, but it does introduce a tinge of fear and anxiety beforehand. Not fear as to whether I’ll be able to get back up (I will), but for how long it will take. Three seconds? 20? Will the knees creak like Victorian floorboards in the process? That’s why Megan Thee Stallion has been—and deserves to be—celebrated for having the strongest knees in the game. Not only is her drop game on point, so is her Get Back Up speed. My envy grows stronger each time she posts a video in which her thighs and knees are succumbing to gravity. Here she is getting low in Balenciaga. Here she is squatting with Ciara. Here’s one of the many videos of her knees grazing the floor mid-performance. This ability to display and protect the knee joints with such style and ease is the domain of sheroes. —Clover Hope

Baby Yoda

It was never my intention to watch The Mandalorian, because what I know about Star Wars is very minimal and I lack the mental capacity to learn more. However, when the internet brought Baby Yoda to my attention, I let love in and, thankfully, do not regret it. Nothing about what the puppet has done has been particularly heroic in the traditional sense of the word, but I’d argue that its mere existence and persistence in the culture as something pure and inherently lovable is an act of heroism in and of itself. Everything in this world is truly so hideous right now— a fact that does not bear repeating. Baby Yoda is a sweet rubber reminder that there are nice things that are objectively nice. Any reminder of that kind of quiet heroism works for me. —Megan Reynolds

Betsy, Escaped Rodeo Cow

The last great American hero is Betsy, a night sky-colored cow who escaped her Alaska rodeo prison and wandered the last frontier for six months, evading capture and living as her ancestors must have lived—grazing on ski slopes in the warm months, heading to Anchorage in the chillier ones. Betsy is my shero this year because she was obviously protesting labor conditions at the rodeo, and I appreciate that. More of us could stand to channel her activist spirit. Beyond that, Betsy has brains, brawn, and beauty. I can only aspire to one day be like her. —Maria Sherman

Crying TikTok Girl

In a year dominated by TikTok and all of its weird memes and fleeting hit songs and dance challenges, Reese Hardy became a poster woman for those attempting to seem okay online even if they’re kind of dying inside by sobbing in a TikTok, wiping away tears while trying to dance to Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed.” As for what she was crying about, Hardy didn’t say, only following up her viral TikTok with a happy one captioned “hey guys i’m happy now it’s okay.” But in that one short video, Hardy felt like all the horror of having to seem chill and happy on the Internet incarnate. — Hazel Cills

Pramila Jayapal

Image: Getty

Given all of the attention paid to the Squad—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley—it’s easy to forget about Representative Pramila Jayapal, who has shown herself to be one of the leading progressive voices in Congress. And nowhere has she led more than on Medicare for All. Earlier this year, she introduced a Medicare for All bill in the House, one that’s even more ambitious and comprehensive than Bernie Sanders’s Senate bill. And as moderates in the vein of Pete Buttigieg and health care industry lobbyists do their best to attack the idea of a single-payer system, Jayapal is keeping her eyes on the prize. “The enemy here is not one or the other of them,” Jayapal told Politico recently, speaking of Elizabeth Warren and Sanders. “It is the entrenched interests, and the groups that are rallying around them, including some of our Democratic presidential candidates who are really doing a disservice to the American people.” Hell yeah! Jayapal is doing the goddamn work.—Esther Wang

Wendy Williams

Image: Getty

For two months this year, Wendy Williams was missing. Her absence from her eponymous talk show was something of a mystery: Had she relapsed? Was her home life too tumultuous? Was something even grimmer at foot? She didn’t get too deep into explaining upon returning on March 4—she blamed it on her thyroid, mostly. But then, as she became the marquee Hot Topic of her daily segment, news of major life changes trickled out. She was staying in a sober-living facility. She filed to divorce her husband Kevin Hunter. She started hanging out with the Kardashians and Black Chyna. It was hard not to be swept up in this second act. Look, Wendy has said some fucked-up shit even post-comeback (her first day back on the job, she lambasted the stories of Michael Jackson’s Leaving Neverland accusers without having seen the doc). She gets things wrong, she thinks that polling her audience is a scientific measure of public taste. But she’s still one of the most tenacious interviewers around, and given the intrigue of her personal life (and, frankly, the numbers that covering her show regularly produces on this blog), she’s become a nearly daily watch for me. Most work days, she’s like a surrogate mother, babbling a few feet away about whatever when I should be paying attention to more important crap. But I love her just the same. I live for moments like this one. Clap if you feel me. —Rich Juzwiak

Audrina Patridge

As a newly divorced single mom, Audrina is automatically designated as The Hills: New Beginnings likable, sympathetic, root-for-her protagonist. But then there is this additional, clinching fact: She has put up with the bad boy, motorcycle-riding, treehouse-dwelling Justin Bobby for over a decade. If that isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is. Not only has she put up with the most Peter Pan of Peter Pans for over a decade but, in The Hills’ recent reboot, she revisited the possibility of taming the untamable by pursuing a maybe-possibly-could-it-be relationship with Justin—whether from personal naiveté or as as craven publicity ploy. Or maybe, I like to hope and dream, she saw it as a self-sacrificial act with deep educational value, because in the process, she gave us the final and ultimate confirmation: Those Peter Pans, they never change.—Tracy Clark-Flory

Marie Schembri, Private Eye

Here are some facts from the New York Times’ second story on Marie Schembri, a 61-year-old private eye who has been tailing potentially nefarious figures for more than three decades: Marie Schembri calls her office, which is decorated with gold fleurs-de-lis and a mural of the French countryside, the “Batcave.” Marie Schembri owns a variety of spy cameras both high-tech and vintage. Marie Schembri has a knack for interpreting property records and obituaries: She says things like “You have to let the documents tell you the truth.” Marie Schembri, in her youth, rotated through a number of understated yet killer disguises when tailing her subjects: They included a schoolteacher; a businesswoman; a punk; and a bubble-gum popping figure, resplendant in a floral skirt and perm, she simply called “Queens woman.” And Marie Schembri decided after years of getting paid by guys to spy on their wives and businesspartners that she’d prefer to more carefully screen her own clients; now she works mostly for other women, making sure they don’t get caught up with assholes or otherwise scammed. —Molly Osberg

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