Margaret Atwood's work needs no introduction. She's the prolific writer of the eerily prescient The Handmaid's Tale and its sequel, the newly released The Testaments, as well as 60 other literary triumphs. Still, at the 2019 Glamour Women of the Year Awards, she admitted to the audience that she's still experiencing some firsts: This is my very first pair of false eyelashes, she said.
In her acceptance speech, Atwood spoke about what questions she's asked most often, what gives her hope, and why the kids are alright.
I'm often asked what words of encouragement I might have for young women especially at this moment, with so many countries trying to roll back women's rights, with many female politics subjected to vicious attacks, and with uncertainty everywhere, she said. What's encouraging to me is seeing how women come together—in journalism, to research and expose abuses, in business to invent their own companies, in politics to defend and to extend democracy, and in health and welfare to help other women around the world.
Atwood highlighted the work of fellow 2019 Women of the Year Greta Thunberg as an example of how the next generation inspires her. You hardly need my words of encouragement, young women, because you are creating your own words and encouraging one another, she said. Because of you, we oldies have hope for the real world. So go for it.
Atwood went on to talk about what it means to her to receive the award later in life. It's encouraging for someone over 70 to still be considered 'glamorous,' she said. When I was 20 and just beginning to publish, I believed life ended at 40. To present our 2019 Lifetime Achievement winner—and hero to women everywhere—with her award, we called upon one of the women who knows her best: Samira Wiley, star of Hulu's adaptation of Handmaid's.
Wiley shared her first memory of Atwood with the audience. I first met the literary goddess Margaret Atwood at a dinner in Toronto before we started shooting The Handmaid’s Tale. I was super nervous. Her characters are so iconic, and here I was about to bring one to life. I’m thinking, 'Oh God, will she approve of me?' Then Margaret walks in, and it’s like a wave of reverence washes over the restaurant, she said. She’s pretty much Canadian royalty, with this energy that draws you to her. She quickly pegged me and Lizzy Moss as the cool kids—rightfully so—treating us like that hip aunt with so much wisdom…who also gives you a bit of a hard time. I’m proud to report that by the end of that magical night, I had wrangled both her seal of approval and the confidence I needed.
She also went on to describe the impact of Atwood's work. What’s so powerful and awe-inspiring about Margaret’s work—not just The Handmaid’s Tale and her brand new sequel The Testaments but her entire body of brilliant, subversive, multi-genre writing—is that she creates art that elicits real change in our society. She makes you look. She makes you terrified, particularly about reproductive rights. And then she makes you brave. Along with millions of fans around the globe, she has expanded my idea of the impact that I can make in this world. And I am certain that we all dream bigger because of Margaret Atwood.
Find out more about Glamour's 2019 Women of the Year here.