Our Top Five Female Celebrities of 2016

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Another year is drawing to a close, and everyone is making their ‘best of’ lists. Last week’s Financial Times featured its Women of the Year, all of whom were, of course, serious players on the world stage like British Prime Minister Teresa May. But it got me thinking about the celebrity women who rarely get credit for good behavior. And so I would like to nominate these five females for the Acculturated Celebrity Women of the Year:

  1. Miley Cyrus. You’re probably like, ‘Um, what?’ But actually, little Hannah Montana appears to have gone to the dark side and then maybe, just maybe, come back to the light. She re-emerged on the scene this year with her hair growing back, her clothing more…normal, her beau back on her arm, and most importantly, the foam finger nowhere to be seen. Unlike so many child stars who have train wrecked in their teens and never turned their lives back around, Miley appears to be happy and healthy again. Her shining moment was her November duet with godmother Dolly Parton and Pentatonix for The Voice, which stunned the music world and even prompted TIME magazine to call the performance a “jaw-dropping” “family affair.” She finished the year with a series of sweet Christmas Instagram posts that seemed about as normal as these things come in Hollywood. Most importantly, she seemed happy. Might she wind up once again becoming a role model for her young fans?
  1. Ivanka Trump. I’ve written about Ivanka Trump here long before she became a household name, calling her “the smart, sexy Hollywood miracle.” She’s never stopped being a beautiful, glamorous, poised professional woman all while embracing her role as wife and mother, and now she is making the seamless segue into politics. She played a pivotal role in the election, helping her father to craft a family leave policy proposal and advising him on a number of issues, and word is she’ll continue to have influence once Trump enters the White House (Ivanka and family are currently house-hunting in Washington, D.C.). It’s easy to suggest she did all of this because she’s a billionaire’s daughter. But can anyone fathom Paris Hilton advising on policy or speaking at political conventions? No, Trump is her own woman; I predict she will make a mark on American politics in 2017.
  1. Michelle Obama. Speaking of women in politics with celebrity stature, one can’t overlook outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama. Haters are gonna hate, but I’ve long maintained that while I don’t care for her politics, she is a class act. Her speech at the Democratic National Convention was a spectacular swan song, a briefly lovely moment in a terribly rancorous election in which she spoke in evocative and grateful platitudes about watching her daughters play on the lawn of the White House, a home built by slaves. It’s hard not to admire her unwavering support for her husband and the way she managed to gracefully raise two girls under relentless scrutiny. Above all, she was her own person in the role all while embracing it, stylishly no less. My compliments.
  1. Katherine Heigl. The actress wins lots of kudos, but this year especially for gracefully embracing an unplanned pregnancy after adopting twice. Her first adopted daughter has special needs. Heigl responded to questions and criticism about her choice to willingly welcome a baby with a disability by saying “she is perfect…we’re very blessed.” She and her husband adopted again, and then found themselves surprised by a pregnancy she didn’t think was possible. But rather than fret, she said simply, “It’s done. So I can’t worry about it. Millions of women have done it so I’ll be alright.” She has been a cheerful mom with whom both women who struggle with infertility and women who find themselves unexpectedly expecting can relate. That’s an accomplishment in its own right.
  1. Queen Elizabeth. The longest reining living monarch turned 90 this year and she remains both a style icon and a B-O-S-S. One gets the distinct impression she is as in charge at 90 as she ever was and, at times, is the last string holding Western Civilization together—all while rocking colorful and glam skirt suits and having portraits like this one done. The lady knows how to live life on her own terms. She’s seen it all — a world war, the Sexual Revolution, all three waves of feminism, and she is still marching on in pearls and a wide-brimmed hat. May she live many years longer!

It’s a strange world when Miley Cyrus and Queen Elizabeth can land on the same list for living life well, but these days, one has to look hard for behavior worthy of praise. May 2017 bring us many more such celebrity surprises.

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