Sammy Nickalls
July 15, 2015 8:31 am

Just a few days ago, Malala Yousafzai turned 18. Seriously, can you believe that such an amazing feminist icon and hero only JUST turned 18? She has accomplished so much in such a short time, and we can only imagine what’s next for the teen inspiration to girls (and humans) everywhere.

And LBH: “inspiration” is probably an understatement. She’s a feminist icon, and that’s just what 16-year-old Morgan Ciocca wanted to portray when she drew Malala as Rosie the Riveter for her school project at her Kansas City school. The piece was made during an art day at Morgan’s high school, when she was asked to create something that reflected inclusion as well as diversity. . . so she decided to honor one of her heroes in the coolest way possible.

“Honestly, one of my top priorities in life is to empower women and let women know they can do anything,” Morgan told FOXK4C.

The drawing, made of chalk, is absolutely perfect, and also includes a fabulous quote by Malala herself: “Extremists have shown what frightens them the most: a girl with a book.” YAAAS. Morgan’s bestie, 16-year-old Maddi McMaster, decided to post her friend’s artwork on Instagram to spread the word.

Turns out that was an amazing BFF move, because it caught Malala’s attention! She reposted it on her own personal Instagram, captioning it, “Thanks for being an awesome, creative supporter, Maddi! #loveoursupporters.” Just wow.

“It was unreal. I don’t even know how to describe that moment. Malala is one of our biggest inspirations ever,” Maddi told FOXK4C.

But that wasn’t the end of the reposting. A couple months later, the Instagram universe caught wind of the pic. A quick stat on Instagram’s own Instagram account shows that Maddi’s art class chalk drawing now has over 84 million followers. So that’s why Morgan and Maddi were totally 100% freaking out with excitement when two days ago, Instagram reposted the picture to their own personal account.

“We saw that Instagram posted it. And we started freaking out and like it was just the coolest thing,” Morgan told FOXK4C.

As of today, the picture has been liked on Instagram’s feed over 620,000 times. “It’s odd to reflect on how Malala’s story has impacted my life, since it has with such immensity,” Maddi said, according to Instagram. “To me, the quote on Morgan’s drawing means that for women across the world, knowledge and education are our greatest powers and weapons against sexism.”

That’s why Morgan has been making sure to educate her younger sister about the essential cause. “Recently, I taught my ten-year-old sister and a few of her friends the meaning of feminism and about Malala,” Morgan said, according to Instagram. “I believe young women see someone who very much resembles them, standing up for her rights, and feel as if they can do the same.”

Morgan’s art has now been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and recognized by her idol. We totally love this story, and it proves a super-important lesson: no matter how old you are, if you believe in something with all your heart, you can make a difference. Congratulations, Morgan and Maddi — we have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of you two!

(Images via Instagram)

Related:

The amazing way Malala is spending her 18th birthday

Check out the trailer for Malala’s new documentary

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