In 2019, The Lily brought our readers stories on mental health, reproductive rights, politics, climate change, gender roles, workplace culture, fashion, movies and technology. We heard from authors and celebrities, activists and people who aren’t famous at all.

In 2020, we will continue to bring you smart, interesting and thoughtful stories on gender and what it means to identify as a woman today. In the meantime, here are our top stories from 2019.

Thanks for reading.

The Jessicas are turning 30

Social share image for The Lily's "The Jessicas are turning 30" piece
Social share image for The Lily's "The Jessicas are turning 30" piece

In 1989, the most popular name for girls in America was Jessica. In 2019, The Lily found 10 people across the world who were named Jessica in 1989 to see where life has taken them and to understand what confronting 30 looks like today. What we found were people struggling to make ends meet, battling addictions, aiming higher in their careers, questioning their personal lives and reclaiming their confidence.

What we found is that there is no one way to be 30 in America today.

Plus, a critical look at the data behind turning 30

Samantha Smith sits in the living room in her home in Roanoke, Va. Smith lives with her fiancŽ and 10-year-old daughter. They moved into their house last summer.
Samantha Smith sits in the living room in her home in Roanoke, Va. Smith lives with her fiancŽ and 10-year-old daughter. They moved into their house last summer.

As part of our look at turning 30 in America today, Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener pored over census data on 30-year-old women in America to find someone who falls in the middle: for marital status, salary, education, number of kids. It led her to Sam Smith.

Right & Center

Kitchener spent the first three months of the year following the freshman congresswomen we weren’t hearing much about. She drove seven hours across the New Mexican desert with Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) and felt the earth shake under a herd of buffalo at Rep. Carol Miller’s West Virginia farm. In all, she interviewed six new members of Congress: five moderate Democrats who won seats in formerly Republican districts, and Miller, the lone Republican woman in the freshman class.

Three women on how climate change affects their lives, plus an expert on how she fights it day to day

(Hanna Lee Joshi for The Lily)
(Hanna Lee Joshi for The Lily)

We shared the stories of three women in different parts of the world whose lives have been shaken by climate change. These personal accounts are meant to inform, not spark distress or fear.

Learn the name of at least one influential woman you’ve never heard of. Here are 31 options.

(Valerie Shaff; AP; Courtesy of Gino Barichello)
(Valerie Shaff; AP; Courtesy of Gino Barichello)

In honor of Women’s History Month, Ashley Nguyen and Claire Breen looked back at 31 historical moments influenced by women. We revisit the women who pushed to liberalize abortion laws before Roe v. Wade, fought for the rights of Mexican women making less than $3 a week, helped desegregate bus travel and more.

Hulu’s ‘Shrill’ popularized the body-positive pool party. These women threw their own.

Founders of the Fat Babes Club of Columbus at their Aug. 10 pool party. (Megan Jelinger for The Lily)
Founders of the Fat Babes Club of Columbus at their Aug. 10 pool party. (Megan Jelinger for The Lily)

Lily contributor Abbey Marshall headed to a Saturday night party in Ohio put on by a group called Fat Babes Club of Columbus. It featured a kaleidoscope of different sizes, shapes and gender identities. Attendees laughed, cheered and cannonballed into the pool, which was dotted with colorful pool floats. Flashing lights danced across the water; Lizzo tunes electrified the air.

‘We are in this together’: How 8 men in this rural Nepali village are upending gender norms around pregnancy and parenting

(Francesco Brembati for The Lily)
(Francesco Brembati for The Lily)

Lily contributor Francesco Brembati spent time with young men in rural Nepal who are coming together to rethink the gender roles around pregnancy and child care. Together, the men have started to trade tips on how to support their partners throughout their pregnancies — swapping recipes for nutrient-rich meals, and taking the lead in asking midwives and medical professionals for advice about caring for their wives during pregnancy and postpartum.

Billie Eilish is my fashion icon. I’m a middle-aged mom.

Lily contributor Laura Todd Carns has read countless articles in women’s magazines urging women over 40 to dress their age. Apparently, she says, we are supposed to stop chasing trends, stop dressing too edgy or too sexy, and start accumulating a wardrobe of “classic” pieces. Except, she says, that isn’t any fun.

These communities are almost entirely without men. Meet the Syrian women taking over.

Nour Yousef with two of her three children. (Photos by Jodi Hilton for The Lily)
Nour Yousef with two of her three children. (Photos by Jodi Hilton for The Lily)

With many of their male partners and relatives either remaining behind in Syria, or dead, many women in Turkey are taking on the role of primary earner, hastening a transformation: It’s Syrian women leading their communities across Turkey.

Hormonal birth control is a ‘guessing game.’ You’re not making up the side effects.

(Lily illustration)
(Lily illustration)

Lily staff writer Caroline Kitchener spoke to 15 women — and heard from another 70 through an online form — who have explored multiple types of hormonal birth control. They described birth control as “pure trial and error” or an “endless guessing game”: starting on one option, waiting for a few weeks, then trying to figure out how they feel.

A female historian wrote a book. Two male historians went on NPR to talk about it. They never mentioned her name. It’s Sarah Milov.

(Courtesy of Sarah Milov; iStock; Lily illustration)
(Courtesy of Sarah Milov; iStock; Lily illustration)

The three men on the segment, two historians and an NPR host, never mentioned Sarah Milov’s name or the name of her book while discussing it extensively on the radio. “Every single word they said was from my book,” said Milov in an interview with Kitchener. While the historians did not quote directly from “The Cigarette,” she said, every cited fact was taken from its pages. “Then I got to the end of a nearly 10-minute segment and did not hear myself credited at all.”

Japanese ‘salaryman’ culture is marked by long hours and drinks late into the night. Meet the women breaking into it.

(Shiho Fukada for The Lily)
(Shiho Fukada for The Lily)

More women in Japan now work — about 70 percent, up several percentage points since 2000 — as a result of changing norms, a greater need for dual incomes and government efforts to increase female participation in the workforce. Still, gender roles remain deeply ingrained. Lily contributor Abigail Leonard brought us the women finding their way in the world of companies that offer employees high salaries, lifetime employment and generous benefits — in exchange for clocking brutally long hours, capped by obligatory drinks late into the night.

Can a credit card be sexist?

Women have long lacked credit parity with men — women only received legal protection from credit discrimination in the 1970s. But today, with the rise of artificial intelligence algorithms determining everything from credit lending to hiring to advertising, women face another potential source of discrimination.

Avoiding a difficult conversation? Nora McInerny knows what to say.

(The Lily)
(The Lily)

Lily video editor Maya Sugarman created a show to help you approach challenging conversations. “Nora Knows What to Say” is an advice series featuring Nora McInerny, author of “No Happy Endings” and host of the podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” She knows all about navigating challenges. In 2014, her husband died of brain cancer, her father died and she miscarried her second child — all in the span of about seven weeks. In this series, McInerny helps Lily readers prepare for difficult conversations.

‘The Changeling’: The scary, choose-your-own-ending story you won’t read anywhere else

To celebrate Halloween, The Lily asked Australian fiction writer Melanie Napthine to craft an original short story sprinkled with spookiness. There’s a twist, too: This story is of the choose-your-own-adventure variety.

What to say — and what not to say — to someone who’s experienced a miscarriage

Lily contributor Tiffany Lee wasn’t prepared for how utterly isolating going through a miscarriage would be. Most people don’t want to talk about miscarriage or don’t know how to. Some people pretended like it didn’t happen and avoided her, she said. Almost everyone just wanted to make sure she was okay.

Following death of Emmy-winning reporter Cokie Roberts, female journalists mourn ‘complete, irreplaceable loss’

Roberts died on Tuesday at 75, according to ABC News

Forbes named 99 men and only one woman on its list of ‘most innovative leaders’

Readers had to scroll all the way down to No. 75 to find the first — and only — woman on the list