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Badass women: 22 December 2016

This week, it's 10-year-old Kaylee Rodgers, Barbara Jutte, Tegan and Sara, Michelle Obama and China Machado who continue to inspire us

By Verinia Khoo | Published: 22 Dec 2016

Video: Claire Macdonaldhy

Kaylee Rodgers
Kaylee Rodgers may be a 10-year-old with autism and ADHD but that shouldn't give you any reason to doubt her ability as a singer. Kaylee led her school choir, singing the late Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah at a concert at Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland.

Kaylee's principal Colin Millar said that she was a very shy student when and wouldn't read out loud in class so the fact that she mustered up the courage to sing in front of an audience and so perfectly too, was a huge deal. And her voice is just stunning.

One YouTube commenter who went by the name of Stu Humphery made a fantastic point: "The fantastic thing about this video is that it's not just good because she's 10. And it's not just good because she's dealing with autism and ADHD. It's good because it's good – really good."

You said it, Stu.

Barbara Jutte
Barbara Jutte is the first woman ever to be put in charge of the Vatican Museums. It was Pope Francis who bestowed the role upon her on Tuesday. According to The Straits Times, Barbara will start her new position after serving as deputy director for 10 years, on 1 January 2017, taking over from art historian and former Italian culture minister Antonio Paolucci.

Of course it's a big deal; the Vatican Museums was founded in the early 16th century, so we're talking about the first female head of the museums for a good five centuries. Plus, they contain some of the greatest works of art known to the world, including the jaw-dropping Sistine Chapel. #artcareergoals

Tegan and Sara
Singing duo Tegan and Sara have launched a foundation that aims to help LGBT women, young and old. They credited part of their success to their LGBTQ fans that have supported them. Tegan and Sara said that the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community on a daily basis also serve as the main inspiration behind their foundation.

"Over these last months, we have been working on a new project, the Tegan and Sara Foundation. Our mission is to fight for economic justice, health, representation for LGBTQ girls and women," they said in an open letter. "We will support the work of other organisations who have been fighting for LGBTQ and women's rights by raising funds and awareness for their initiatives," they said.

"We will fight against the repressive legislation of the incoming Trump administration. We will fight against regressive homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic legislation. We will fight for economic, racial and gender justice." Read their full letter here.

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama's time as First Lady might be coming to an end but she's still got nuggets of wisdom to share. During an interview with Oprah, Michelle revealed that in the last eight years as FLOTUS, she's discovered "another level of Michelle Robinson Obama".

"We as women, we as minorities... we underestimate ourselves," she said. "I'm pretty smart. I work pretty hard. I'm good at what I do. I have really good instincts. I have great ideas. And I can execute. I say that out loud because we as women don't pat ourselves on the back. We're always sort of deferring. We cede our power so easily."

She went on to encourage young women everywhere to "understand what's in your brain is really useful" and to not hide it. "Don't dumb it down. Don't apologise for it. Just put it on the table and let people deal with it," Michelle said.

China Machado
The world's first non-Caucasian model China Machado passed away on Sunday at the age of 86 from cardiac arrest. She was born as Noelie Dasouza Machado but adopted the name 'China' as a reference to the slurs she encountered as a child in South America, where her family had escaped to after World War II.

She started her modelling career in 1954 when she moved to Paris and walked her first runway show for Givenchy. She then made history by becoming the first non-white model to appear on the cover of a major fashion magazine in 1959. Machado later on, became the magazine's fashion editor and then fashion director.

Machado's modelling stints included gigs for Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Cole Haan and most recently for Ray-Ban. This year, she signed with IMG Models, a move that officiated her octogenarian supermodel status. She is survived by her husband Ricardo Rosa, her two daughters, Emanuelle Lasalle-Hills and Blance Lasalle, and two grandsons. Rest in peace, China Machado. You will be missed.

Photo: Jared Siskin/PMC/TPG Images

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