The Strategic Design of HeForShe

Some might not know it, but I a huge nerd when it comes to digital design. I think many can agree with me on this, but I take websites, blogs, and brands with good looking designs and logos a bit more seriously than others that might not look as good. And with this in mind, I think that the design of the HeForShe campaign is a huge reason why it has been so successful.

HeForShe has a very distinct design, and I was curious as to what was the thought process behind it. Designing a brand – especially a hot topic brand like HeForShe – is a very meticulous process. Especially since HeForShe encompasses such a controversial issue, even the design of the campaign has a purpose. Just as I had predicted, there was much thought behind the look of the HeForShe campaign. Here is what I found out…

The New York design studio known as DIA was the mastermind behind HeForShe’s striking logo and other branding materials (Krasniansky). Mitchell Paone, the designer responsible for HeForShe, was faced with the task of creating “an identity that resonated with both genders equally” while at the same time related to audiences of all different cultures (Krasniansky). With support for HeForShe coming from over 100 countries, the design of it was very important (Krasniansky).

The logo is formed by two shapes that together look like a cross giving “a sense of urgency and of something that needs to be fixed” (Armin) DIA states on their website that the logo is meant to represent the solidarity movement by “joining together aspects of both the female and male symbols.  This union symbolizes women and men working together to make gender equality a reality.  This mark does not favor the male or female symbol, but blends them together creating a new symbol for humanity and gender equality” (DIA).

While communicating a shared sensibility between masculine and feminine identities, they also portrayed a sense of boldness with the typography (DIA). This paired with the “powerful, warm and energetic” colors – black, white, and fuchsia – create a very thoughtful logo for the HeForShe brand (DIA).

If you just take a look at some of the promotional materials that DIA produced, you can see how they used the logo and the shapes in many different ways. From pins to stationery, scarves, posters, tickets, brochures, and I am sure much more, HeForShe has used the design strategically. Check out the beautiful designs below!







(All photos: DIA)


Armin. “New Logo and Identity for HeForShe by DIA.” 01 October 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

“HeForShe.” DIA. 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Krasniansky, Adriana. “The Design Behind Emma Watson’s ‘HeForShe’ Campaign. 29 September 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.


The Problem With Male Allies

One of the main goals of HeForShe is for boys and men to become the leaders in the movement toward gender equality. After all, the campaign is called “Heforshe.” Like I had said in a recent post, feminism is largely misconstrued nowadays. Because of this misconception of feminism, people often think only women can hold the identity of a feminist. This just isn’t the case, and Emma Watson clearly stated this in her speech and spoke to men and boys directly with: “I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too” (“Emma Watson” UN Women).

Before Watson made this speech and before HeForShe began, “male allies” to women did exist. But what exactly are “male allies”? Are they different from feminists who happen to identify as male?

Funnily enough, it is a bit hard to track down a formal definition for a “male ally,” even though the term is used quite often. Formal definitions for gay allies do exist, which can help determine what it exactly means to be a male ally. A gay ally is commonly defined in this way: “Typically any non-LGBT person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people, though LGBT people can be allies, such as a lesbian who is an ally to a transgender person” (University of Michigan).

So, would a male ally be someone who identifies as male and who personally advocates for equal rights and fair treatment of women? Wouldn’t that just make a person a feminist? Some have argued that men calling themselves “male allies” or sometimes “feminist allies” are afraid to label themselves as a feminist, and because of this perpetuate the false assumption that only women are feminist (Nerdy Feminist).

In addition to the frustration people have with the term “male ally” rather than just “feminist”, there was recent controversy during the Male Allies Panel at the Grace Hopper Celebration. The panel brought together male tech leaders to discuss how men could advocate for women in the tech industry (Larson). Unfortunately, the panel didn’t go as well as most thought it would. The panel “spent less time discussing how men can advocate for women than it did instructing women to advocate for themselves by ‘speaking up’” (Hess). People were largely disappointed by this.

grace hopper

(Photo: Readwrite)

Instances like this, and even some popular male celebrities proclaiming they are feminists, are not the only issues people have with “male allies.” In 2012, North Carolina State University sociologist Kris Macomber interviewed several men and women “who advocate against gendered forms of violence” (Hess). What she found was a string of contradictions that lie in the process of incorporating men into feminist movements (Hess). It goes like this… “Because men are ‘members of the dominant group, they have access to social and institutional power that women lack;…and that makes them valuable to feminism—but it also makes them representatives of a culture feminists are working to change” (Hess). So basically, men are called upon to change these gender norms, while at the same time still perpetuating these norms. There are several other interesting findings of this study (that include many more contradictions) and I highly encourage you to read more about it here.

I think that HeForShe has combatted a lot of the problems that people might have with male allies. It might be a bit harder to tackle the controversy over the use of the identity of “male ally” rather than just “feminist.” But like I mentioned in my last “what if?” post, Emma Watson is the perfect person to lead this campaign and I think the selection of her – a strong and influential female – combats the second problem people have with male allies and their influence perpetuating gender norms. Watson has a huge influence among young and old, male and female, and I think that is pretty remarkable.


“Emma Watson: Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. 20 September 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Hess, Amanda. “Male Allies Are Important, Except When They’re the Worst.” Slate. 15 October 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.

Larson, Selena. “White Male ‘Allies’ Have Surprisingly Little To Say About Fixing Sexist Tech Culture.” 09 October 2014.

University of Michigian. “LGBT Terms and Definitions.” Interntional+LGBT. Web. 29 November 2014.

“What is a ‘Feminist Ally?’” Nerdy Feminist. 06 March 2010. Web. 29 November 2014.

What If…

When brainstorming different posts I could write during my examination of the HeForShe campaign, I started thinking of various “What if?” scenarios, and the one that made me most curious was “What if Emma Watson wasn’t the star spearheading this campaign?”

Along with this “what if?” comes several other questions…

“Would the campaign have gained as much popularity?”

“What if an older celebrity led the campaign?”

“What if a boy or man made that infamous speech?”

Clearly, a lot of hypothetical scenarios were running through my mind. To gather my thoughts a bit more, I want to first examine more generally the power of celebrity.

Watson herself is a rarity when thinking about young adult female celebrities. She began her acting career as a child star in the Harry Potter series, a franchise with its own huge following. By Harry Potter’s end, Watson was 21 years-old, and already considered “a fashion icon and a talent to watch” (Simon).


(Photo: Zap2it)

Studies have shown that successful celebrities have more power in influencing people’s behavior, rather than those celebrities who have waning success (Lindenberg, Joly, and Stapel).  After considering this, it makes total sense why Emma Watson was chosen. Watson was a star in Harry Potter, and since then took on bolder projects like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and My Week With Marilyn (Simon). To top it off, during this whole time, she modeled for numerous high fashion magazines like Vogue, and casually attended and graduated from Brown University – an Ivy League college (Simon). To say that Watson has been successful might be an understatement.

After looking at the studies and Watson’s success stories, it is pretty clear that Watson may have been the perfect celebrity to lead HeForShe. Just out of general curiosity, I posted the several “What if?” questions to my Facebook friends. One friend in particular had a lot to say on the topic. She claimed that no one else could have lead the HeForShe campaign because “Emma Watson is a trustworthy person who many people look up to.” She continued by remarking that some male celebrities have come out as being feminists, like Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Patrick Stewart. But the reason none of them could do it is because the UN backed the campaign and is a “respectable international organization.” Finally, she finished with “who doesn’t know who Emma Watson is?”

I agree with my friend, no one else could have done it. Watson is mega-famous, successful, has a barely-tarnished reputation – unlike a lot of young female celebrities (Simon). It also makes the most sense that Watson lead HeForShe for the very fact that she is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador (Selby). Watson was named a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador just a month after receiving her degree from Brown University (Selby). Secretary General and Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka remarked that the “engagement of young people is critical for the advancement of gender equality in the 21st century” further emphasizing how important it is that Watson lead the campaign (Selby).

I think when examining hot topic campaigns like HeForShe, it is always good to question it with these type of “what if?” questions. I think it is clear, though, that Watson was the perfect choice. She is successful, smart, and revered by many. Next, I am going to do some digging and see what people – both celebrities and the general public have done to push HeForShe. Stay tuned….


Lindenberg, Siegwart, Janneke F. Joly and Diederik A. Stapel. “The Norm-Activating Power of Celebrity: The Dynamics of Success and Influence” Social Psychology Quarterly 74.1 (March 2011): 98-120. Web. 24 November 2014.

Selby, Jenn. “Emma Watson Named as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.” The Independent. 08 July 2014. Web. 24 November 2014.

Simon, Rachel. “How Emma Watson’s Influence Has Changed a Generation of Young Actresses.” Bustle. 04 November 2014. Web. 25 November 2014.

Shifting Gears for a Second….

Some of you may know that this blog originated as a way for me to document my time studying abroad in London. I learned so much during that time, and I was so eager to give advice to friends who were going to London or just studying abroad in general. I eventually found myself creating a sort of guide, giving it to friends or friends of friends who wanted some advice for traveling, studying abroad in general, and living in London.

One of the set of tips I came up with was how to save money in London – it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, after all. So, after I stumbled upon The College Tourist, a student travel blog, I decided to submit my 6 Tips for Saving Some Pounds in London. The article is posted here on their website, so check it out!

My regularly scheduled analysis of HeForShe will be back soon…..

Why We Need HeForShe

I have mentioned in my most recent post and slacktivism post that HeForShe has faced some criticism. This is common with any “hot topic” sort of issue like gender equality, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any support for HeForShe. Many proclaim that HeForShe is monumental and groundbreaking, and here is why…

Emma Watson- why we need heforshe

(Photo: MyPersonalBubble)

In Watson’s speech that launched HeForShe, she cites specific instances where gender norms were assumed on herself and her friends. At age eight she was accused of being “bossy” for wanting to direct plays with her friends, whereas the boys who wanted to direct never were accused of being bossy (“Emma Watson” UN Women). At age 14, she started “being sexualized by certain elements of the press” (“Emma Watson” UN Women). And at age 18, she noticed that her male friends were unable to express their feelings, for fear of being made fun of (“Emma Watson” UN Women).

People have praised Watson for calling people to action to end injustices against women and men. Oftentimes, the gender norms that Watson cites, are never challenged and generally just accepted. For example, female assertiveness is often mistaken as “bitchiness.” Another example is seen in the “millions of male victims of eating disorders and intimate partner violence who are deterred from seeking help due to distorted notions of masculinity” (Gastfriend). Watson is a leading example of how to address this issues that are often ignored.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, Watson primarily calls upon men and boys to make a change for women. However, she does remark that a change for men needs to happen as well. Watson says, “I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves” (“Emma Watson” UN Women). Watson is combatting the continuation of the idea that boys still need to be told things like “men don’t cry” and “shouldn’t feel” and finally “must be strong,” and I think that this is where Watson is truly groundbreaking (Lutes). I think that although women are often oppressed in many ways that has them assuming gender norms, men also face gender norms that aren’t often addressed.

In addition to Watson calling out these norms, she also pointed out the false understanding of feminism. I went into greater detail about this in my modern misconceptions of feminism post, but it is still worth mentioning again. The ideals that are commonly posed when thinking about modern feminism often put man and woman against each other. By pushing back campaigns like Women Against Feminism, Watson is paving the way for true feminism, which is another plus if you ask me.

I just wanted to make a point that HeForShe is not bad in the slightest. I’m afraid some of my recent blog posts have portrayed me as being very critical and perhaps negative toward the campaign, and I just want to set a reminder that I am in no way criticizing the campaign. HeForShe is important, and I encourage people to take part in the movement. It may need some work in certain areas, but overall, I think we need HeForShe.


Gastfriend, Daniel. “Enough Is Enough: Why #HeForShe Is Long Overdue — and What Men Should Do About It.” Huffington Post. 08 October 2014. Web. 18 November 2014.

“Emma Watson: Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. 20 September 2014. Web. 14 October 2014.

Lutes, Alicia. “Emma Watson’s #HeForShe Speech Reminds Us That We’re All Better Together.” Nerdist. 24 September 2014. Web. 18 November 2014.

HeForShe Should Be More Than Just He and She

One of the most important things that has been discussed in my Sexuality and Social Media class is that gender isn’t binary. Society often assumes that when talking about gender, there are only two options: male or female. Although many people fit into one of these two options, some identify somewhere in the middle of those two options or identify as something completely different from those two options. To put it more simply, “gender identity is all about how you, in your head, think about yourself” (Killerman).

When thinking about gender identity and its implications in the HeForShe campaign, it’s also important to note that gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation don’t mean the same things (Killerman). These terms are often used interchangeably, which is completely wrong. For the rest of this post, I will be talking exclusively about gender identity and gender binary systems. The video posted below by Laci Green, a sex education activist and YouTuber, also gives a really good explanation of gender and how it is different from sex and the other terms mentioned above. If you are a visual learner, I recommend watching the video by Green below! She shows a really cool visual/metaphorical representation of how gender isn’t necessarily binary. Check it out!


The big problem with a gender binary society is that it is exclusionary (Huang) How many times have you taken a survey, or filled out a form online and when you come across the gender section, the only options are “male” and “female”? Imagine if you didn’t identify as either and are forced to choose an option that isn’t true. A gender binary system can also “form the basis for how you are educated, what jobs you can do (or are expected to do), how you are expected to behave, what you are expected to wear…and who you should be attracted to love/marry, etc” (“Beyond the Binary” GSA Network). That is a whole lot of exclusionary activity that frankly is really saddening to hear.

Although our society has been criticized for being gender binary, strides have been made to break this system. For example, Facebook recently created 50 new gender identity options for its users (Scuiletti and Sheffer). In a statement Facebook released after the change, they said that they “recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way” (Scuiletti and Sheffer).

What does HeForShe have to do with all of this? As many of you can guess, the name of the campaign itself has been stirring some controversy, having people claim that it is reverting back to the binary system. As we all know, language and word choice is a very powerful tool. So by naming the campaign HeForShe – using the two pronouns that force people into the binary system – criticism is sure to ensue.

In addition to controversy of the name HeForShe, others have had problems with the HeForShe pledge itself. At the portion of the HeForShe website where on signs the pledge to join the movement, the sole question that pops up before signing the pledge is: “Are you a man who is going to stand up for women’s rights?” (HeForShe). Many claim that question in itself is exclusionary of those who cannot technically answer “yes” but would still like to participate in the movement (Huang). In addition to the pledge statement, the HeForShe website also claims to “bring together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity” (HeForShe).

I understand – and hopefully those mentioned with strong feelings about this issue understand – that the main goal of the campaign is to have men stand up for women’s rights and further the movement for equality. The overarching goal, though, is simply “gender equality” (HeForShe). Because of this, I think it may be wise if the campaign considered changing some wording, with “gender as a spectrum” (a line that is taken from Watson’s speech) at the forefront of the movement to accept all voices (“Emma Watson” UN Women). 


“Beyond the Binary.” GSA Network. Web. 14 October 2014.

“Emma Watson: Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. 20 September 2014. Web. 14 October 2014.

Green, Laci. “BOYS CAN HAVE A VAG!!” Online Video Clip. YouTube. 24 March 2012. Web. 15 November 2014.

HeForShe. UN Women. 2014. Web. 15 November 2014.

Killerman, Sam. “Breaking Through The Binary: Gender Explained Using Continuums.” Web. 15 November 2014.

Scuilietti, Justin and Sarah Sheffer. “Facebook Launches 50 New Gender Options  For Users.” PBS. 13 February 2014. Web. 15 November 2014.

Modern Misconceptions of Feminism

In a previous blog post where I defined gender equality, I mentioned how Emma Watson remarked how feminism has “too often become synonymous with man-hating” and she calls for an action to end this mindset (“Emma Watson” UN Women). I also remarked how certain celebrities and their attention in the media may be the cause of this misconception of feminism. I feel like this whole topic needs more explaining and dissecting, therefore, I am devoting this whole blog post to it. So, here we go…

A poll conducted in April 2013 found that just 16 percent of men and 23 percent of women identified as feminists (Shire). However, this same poll found that 82 percent of all Americans agree with the following statement: “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals” (Shire). How do most people reject being called a feminist while at the same time agree with one of the simplest definitions of feminism? There are several reasons.


(Photo: ItsPronouncedMetrosexual)

Feminism has grown into being seen as anti-man, liberal, radical, and many other things it is not (all of which sound negative). As far as the “feminists hate men” portion, that idea has been around for around 200 years (Killerman). Hundreds of years ago when women began advocating for their rights to own property, attend college, and vote, others (mainly those who were against women’s rights) labeled these requests as anti-family, anti-God, and of course, anti-men (Killerman). This labeling continues today, and in addition to the development of some feminists who actually do hate men, the false notion continues. I think it is said best with “a portion does not equal the whole, even if that portion is really loud” (Killerman).

Like I mentioned in my slacktivism post, the media and spread of information is more viral and easier than ever. This, in my opinion, is the main reason that the false notions of feminism persist. This, paired with the power of celebrity, which has a huge role in the media, has branded feminism in this negative way.

Many female celebrities have been public with their rejection of a feminist label. Katy Perry declared “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women” (Shire). Soon after that comment, she changed her mind, declaring she was a feminist because “it just means that I love myself as a female and I also love men (Shire). I mentioned this in my previous post, but failed to mention her name, but Shailene Woodley is among this group of female celebrities who got feminism completely wrong. When asked if she was a feminist, she said no because she loves men (Dockterman). Other leading female celebrities, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, have also said that they don’t consider themselves feminists, largely because of the negative connotation that the word – often called the “f” word in the media – has in our culture (Luscombe & Ruiz).

A recent online campaign that has solidified this misconception of feminism is Women Against Feminism, a Tumblr photo collection of women holding signs explaining why they don’t need feminism. After perusing through some of the posts myself, it is very clear that many of these women have fallen under the spell of false feminism with reasons like “I love men and a women-only world would be a nightmare” or “I am not a delusional, disgusting, hypocritical man-hater” (Women Against Feminism). (Imagine me banging my head on my desk as I type this…) 

I am glad that Watson made point of this huge misconception of feminism in her launch of HeForShe. Although her main call to action was for men and boys to be leaders and participants in the movement toward gender equality, I also think Watson should lead celebrities to break down the misconceptions of feminism. Clearly, as it is seen in Women Against Feminism, young people don’t understand what being a feminist really means. Education is imperative, and I think Watson has the power to rally her female and male celebrity friends and set the record straight about feminism.


Dockterman, Eliana. “Shailene Woodley on Why She’s Not a Feminist.” 05 May 2014. Web. 03 November 2014.

“Emma Watson: Gender Equality Is Your Issue Too.” UN Women. 20 September 2014. Web. 14 October 2014.

Killerman, Sam. “5 Reasons Why So Many People Believe Feminism Hates Men and Why They’re Not True.” 03 June 2014. Web. 03 November 2014.

Luscombe, Belinda. “Kelly Clarkson: ‘Not a Feminist’.” 30 October 2013. Web. 03 November 2014.

Ruiz, Michelle. “A Handy Guide to Celebrity Feminists.” Web. 03 November 2014.

Shire, Emily. “You Don’t Hate Feminism. You Just Don’t Understand It.” 24 July 2014. Web. 03 November 2014. Web. 03 November 2014.