I first started following actress Gillian Anderson’s Twitter account sometime in 2015 after the announcement of The X-files revival. I was a fervent X-phile in my youth—as seen by the very solid FBI badge I made when I was 10—and decided to follow her Twitter account to get updates on the show.
I was a fan, but I knew little of her other work or personal life. That’s why it came as a great surprise when I started to look forward to updates from the actress’ account. Unlike many celebrities who use social media to perpetuate their own beautiful myth, Anderson uses Twitter to share herself-deprecation, her commitment to social justice, her support of other women and her fan-like love for her own inspiring female characters. Oh, and her insatiable appetite for dark chocolate.
I also grew to appreciate her willingness to share candid and unedited photos of herself. As a fledgling feminist, I will not criticize any female celebrity who chooses to present herself in any manner she sees fit. However, I also appreciate female celebrities who are willing to show their true selves, warts and all. Feminism and the unrealistic expectations the media puts on women do not have to be mutually exclusive, and it’s refreshing and inspiring when a female celebrity breaks the mold. It is important for many of us women, especially women in Anderson’s age bracket, to be reminded that it’s okay to own your beautiful, well-earned wrinkles, an unkempt hair day or make-up free face. Famous women are human too, Anderson tells us, and that’s an important message as we progress into The Future of Females.
Anderson herself is a feminist, and her long list of accomplishments is to be noted. She played two of television’s strongest and most independent female characters—FBI Agent Dana Scully from The X-files, a character who is known for having encouraged legions of young girls to pursue math and science a la “The Scully Effect,” and the confident and commanding Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson from The Fall. The actress is also known for being vocal about pay inequality and lack of female writers and directorsonThe X-files, and she’s the co-author of (along with friend and equal bad-ass Jennifer Nadel) We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere. In We, Anderson and Nadel share their own personal battles as working mothers and the nine principles that have helped them live a balanced and meaningful life. Anderson’s feminist achievements, which includes years of supporting female-centric nonprofits as well, are all the more impressive given that most of them occurred before The Age of Rage. Anderson was calling it like it is before it was trendy to do so.
If you were to peruse Anderson’s Twitter account, you’ll also find that she’s a champion of other women, whether it’s her co-stars on The X-files or American Gods, her friends on The Crown or women who have written empowering essays. Her praise reminds us that instead of seeing one another as competition, we must lift each other up, and in doing so all women will rise to the top. In addition, she totally nerds out on Twitter about her own shows, particularly The X-files, which is not only a nice gift to her fans, but it also gives the impression that she’s a woman who loves what she does. (Side note: She has excellent Twitter etiquette and makes sure to source every photo or story she shares.)
So the next time you’re having a day where you’re not sure if you’re being the best feminist you can be, just ask yourself “What would Gillian Anderson do?” and go to her Twitter account. Whether she’s tweeting a goofy selfie, a link to a women’s cause or a compliment to a fellow sister, I promise you’ll find inspiration in her 280 characters.