TIME’s list of The 100 Most Influential People of 2012 was announced earlier this week – a group that included icons, rogues, activists and thinkers, fodder for plenty of decent watercooler debate and suggestions for whom each of us might have included as honorees. Of course, no zeitgeist reportage would be complete this year without acknowledging Kristen Wiig, Louis CK and Adele, and I think Garry Trudeau is right, Stephen Colbert should just be on the list every year from now until the end times. Also, I defy you not to fall in serious like with dreamy-eyed do-gooder Ben Rattray of Change.org and double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who runs with flexible blades where his feet once were and managed to convince Olympic officials to let him compete alongside the best able-bodied athletes in the world this summer in London. But as with every year, it’s a group of amazing women I’d never heard of before whose extraordinary achievements have me all grateful and cuddlehearted for their huggable contributions to humanity:
Anjali Gopalan – Under the benevolent auspices of India’s Naz Foundation, Gopalan is a dedicated and tireless advocate for some of her culture’s most marginalized individuals: the LGBT community and people living with AIDS/HIV, especially orphans. My favorite part of her story was that unlike her medical colleagues in the 1990s, she was not only unafraid to touch HIV positive patients, she even went so far as to dance with them. Huggability: OFF THE CHARTS
Fatou Bensouda – Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – and the first African woman ever to hold the job – she’s coming for you, Kony. It’s unfathomable how many grim, graphic accounts of genocide and human suffering Bensouda must have heard in her career, but luckily for us, her commitment to justice is just as steadfast and stoic. Huggability: I’M ON A PLANE TO GO HUG HER RIGHT NOW
Portia Simpson Miller – Two-term president of Jamaica, she’s the first woman ever to hold the job and is ushering in a new era of tolerance and civil rights for gays and lesbians, actively attempting to redress the nation’s regrettable past homophobia. I love that she’s referred to as “Sister P,” and when she talks about the influence on her life by the little children of Jamaica, I can easily imagine just how many of them have bigger dreams for their futures now because of her example. Huggability: TOTALLY, BUT I’D HATE TO CREASE HER OUTFIT
Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood fights the good fight for reproductive civil liberties, women’s health and sane policy-making about issues the government really has no business poking around in anyway. On top of everything else her day job entails, she’s also the regular punching bag for politicians seeking a scapegoat for their own failure to connect with an increasingly pro-choice electorate. Huggability: HELL YES, ESPECIALLY TO STOP THE PUNCHING BAG THING
Mercifully, there’s no Ann Coulter-level of controversy on this year’s list, and no presidential snub like the burn on Bush in 2007, which is a relief, because I’m a big fan of Barry O and his missus, although she’s not been listed herself since 2009 . (Also, until I saw both their names, I hadn’t realized just how much I want to see a Swinton–Clinton variety hour on TV, or maybe just a sitcom set in a detective agency they co-own.)
As a contributor to HelloGiggles since shortly after its launch, I’ll admit I’ve got an adorkable dog of my own in this hunt (and yes, it probably has a jaunty kerchief), but I do think this year’s TIME list is missing HG’s own Zooey Deschanel. Besides the growing following she’s earned as a performer, I’ve seen with the eyes in my own face how much of her time and energy has gone toward creating (and inspiring others to contribute to) this positive, welcoming community of readers – and writers – of all ages, to say nothing of the ongoing commitment here to voter registration and spotlighting women working to do good, both points of pride for many of us who share this space. And hey, if she’s good enough to merit a hit TV show, a chart-topping Christmas album, an iPhone ad, legions of style-worshippers and a proper invite to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, I’d say that’s plenty influential. But hey, maybe I’m a teeny bit biased.
My predictions for who we might see on next year’s list:
Mindy Kaling – A personal fave and HG BFF4EVA, she’s riding high on a hugely successful book, she’s got the most promising, most hotly anticipated new comedy series of the fall season coming to FOX, and on top of it all, she’s a complete relief from an industry lousy with starving starlets and their desperate meangirlery. She joked with Diablo Cody recently about hankering for an EGOT, and I wouldn’t put it – or anything – past her.
Armando Iannucci/Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Only one episode in and Veep is already a sure-footed comer with more bite than Sorkin… and considerably fewer walk-and-talks. Like our girl Mindy, JLD is serving up realness that’s not botoxed to oblivion but still looks totally ferosh, and with Iannucci’s exquisitely acid dialogue and just the right amount of cringe, not once did I see Elaine Benes in Selina Meyer, but I did see my favorite new grown-up comedy on cable that’s only going to get more topical.
Neil deGrasse Tyson – If it felt like this astrophysicist’s name was everywhere this year, wait until next year when he brings back Carl Sagan’s much-loved documentary series Cosmos, and the nerdosphere goes berserk. He’s already made one appearance on the list, in 2007, but don’t call it a comeback. He’s been quietly killing it as a frequent guest on late night shows, and if his charisma in the host spot is anything similar, Cosmos will be getting a season’s pass on a lot of PVRs as a guilt-free geeky pleasure.
BIC/BIWC (Blue Ivy Carter and Baby In-Waiting Cambridge) – Although the latter is still a twinkle in its parents’ eyes, the former is already poised to set the diamond standard for newborn cool, because that’s obviously going to be a thing now. If Bey and Hov don’t have a baby apparel brand already, you know they’ll start one just so William & Kate’s future heir has something appropriately fly to wear on visits to great-granny’s palace.