T.O.'s most inspiring women of 2017: Margaret Atwood

A look at 12 incredible Toronto women who inspired us, provoked us, educated us and otherwise made us proud in 2017


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Atwood committed to a writing career at 16 while attending Leaside High School

Image: Fernando Morales - The Globe and Mail

As 2017 comes to a close, we are honouring Toronto's most inspirational women of the year. Take a look at our 12-part series highlighting the changemakers who are pushing for women's rights, exposing the inequalities in our city, achieving excellence in what they do and giving back through advocacy, activism, philanthropy and more.

The writer: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is fiercely intelligent. She is gracious, humble and irritatingly elegant. She also has quite a mischievous sense of humour. But the thing I admire most — the one characteristic that I desperately try to nurture in myself — is how forthright she is. She uses her big girl voice. Always. Without arrogance or aggression, she sits so unapologetically in her own skin.  

The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Alias Grace were my introduction to a woman as the protagonist. Additionally, the fact that these works were narrated by a female voice was mind-blowing to my adolescent self. Finding her novels and her voice at such a young age proved to me that there is an abundance of compelling, powerful and completely flawed female protagonists. I had only ever encountered male characters as three-dimensional beings. It made me hungry to embody these kind of women.  

My first read of The Handmaid’s Tale inspired a monumental turning point in my life. I was 15, living in a small town, which seemed overwhelmingly suffocating. I instantly connected with Offred’s journey, and slowly, page after page, her resilience and wit became a lifeline for me.

I was sitting beside Atwood when we won the Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. The moment we heard our name announced, Atwood and I hugged and stumbled out of our row together. We walked to the stage arm in arm, and when we arrived at the top, I got to watch the crowd give her a much deserved standing ovation. She has been my idol since I was 15 years old. I can’t think of a better ending to this 25-year-old love story.

Next on the list: Marie Henein by Brian Greenspan

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