11-Year-Old Meghan Markle's Response To A Sexist Commercial Heralded The Kind Of Advocate She'd Become

Markle's history of activism will serve her well as she transitions into a life of full-time philanthropy.

When actress and activist Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry in May 2018, she won't just be gaining a title. The Suits star will also become a full-time philanthropist, building on a vocation that for her dates back decades.

Markle has a history of activism, similar to that of the royal family, that dates back to when she was just an 11-year-old girl growing up in Los Angeles. According to The Guardian, Markle, now 36, recounted her first brush with activism during a speech she gave at a U.N. Women conference in New York in 2015.

"I unknowingly, and somehow accidentally became a female advocate," she told the audience, explaining how she grew outraged after seeing a commercial for dishwashing soap that proclaimed "women all over America" were fighting greasy pots and pans. "It just wasn't right, and something needed to be done," she said of the sexist ad.

About a month after 11-year-old Markle wrote a letter to the dish soap manufacturer, she told the audience the commercial had changed, now stating "People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans." Young Markle's willingness to fight gender stereotypes takes on an additional meaning now that she will soon have a much larger platform with which to bring attention to the causes she believes in. 

In an essay for Elle UK written by Markle last year, she discussed how her activism grew and matured over time, eventually taking her to places like Rwanda to meet with female parliamentarians. "My mum raised me to be a global citizen, with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities," she wrote. "We spent time traveling to remote places, taking trips to Oaxaca in southern Mexico where I saw children peddling Chiclets candy for a few extra 
pesos to bring home."

Later, recalling how she'd asked the Suits producers to donate any excess food from craft service to a local soup kitchen, Markle added, "My parents came from little so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it. It's what I grew up seeing, so it's what I grew up being: a young adult with a social consciousness to do what I could and speak up when I knew something was wrong."

As Markle prepares to formally become a member of the royal family, it's heartening to know she's long been a person who understands the importance of giving back to others, especially since she will soon be transitioning into a life of full-time philanthropy. In recent years Prince Harry, Prince William, and Duchess Kate have worked to raise awareness about mental health issues, empower young people to enact positive change in the world, and combat the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. Though it remains to be seen if any causes close to Markle's heart will become part of the royal repertoire, she's certainly ready to take on more and continue her (soon-to-be much larger) fight for change.

"With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I'm lucky enough, to inspire," Markle concluded in her Elle UK essay. 

Cover image via Shutterstock.


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