When it comes to Hollywood, there are plenty of high earners to choose from. Love them or hate them, these the people who grab the attention of the masses, and use their inflated vantage point to make a name for themselves, and quite a hefty living. Those who truly made an impact, in our opinion, were those who melded superstardom with artistic expression, education and philanthropy. When we cross paths with just one of these power houses (we're looking at you Beyoncé), it is an impressive feat indeed. When one of these unicorns pair with a like-minded counterpart, the effect is hypnotizing.
Although these celebrities net worth are head spinning indeed (honestly it's hard to believe how much we pay actors in this country), we wanted to shout to those top earning twosomes who made an awesome impact throughout the course of what has been an intriguing year, for everyone.
1. Michelle and Barack Obama
While these two may have been campaign trailing for much of their last months at the White House for Hillary, they made ample time to speak out for those causes closest to the Obama legacy before the close of 2016. Hard working and charitable, the Obamas will be missed not only for their accomplishments but also their character. After making a modest $400,000 a year as the President of The United States, Obama is reportedly worth $12.2 million. No word on what his wife brings to the table. Although it may seem meager in comparison to his Hollywood counterparts, he and his wife secured a place on this list because they have changed the face of American history. Michelle's commitment to causes like childhood obesity and international adolescent girls' education, make her heart almost as big as the impact she's made on this country and young women everywhere.
2.Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Bey and J's net worth is said to be in the region of $700 million and we know in 2017, it will only get bigger. Their ingenious decision to keep the 'Lemonade' album exclusive to Tidal earned them a whopping sum, while simultaneously raising awareness for the Black Lives Matter campaign. It is not of course just their involvement in the music industry that keeps the home however, as the man of the house earns much of his money from side projects: with his own champagne and cognac brands doing much of the work toward his more than $50 million 2016 salary. The pair also has a long history in philanthropy, and for Bey's part, she collaborated with three charities for her Formation World Tour, in the hopes that her followers would recognize the ease with which they could give back to causes she is passionate about, and #BEYgood.
3. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
While the brakes may have been put on the relationship of the millennium, it does not preclude them from a list of couples that dominated this year in and out of headlines. Pitt, worth an estimated $240 million, and Jolie, whose net worth is about $170 million, broke the hearts of all Hollywood lovers this fall upon the shocking announcement of their divorce and subsequent tattles of cheating.
Given their acclaimed status both as couple and individuals however, there's not much time for moping here. Jolie awaits the release of the movie she has directed with Netflix, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. The film deals with a subject very close to her heart and covers many aspects of her philanthropic ventures. Pitt has little time to succumb to emotion either, with Allied coming out shortly among a litany of other projects in the works. While both have taken a set back from their rigorous on-screen schedules in recent years, their involvement in causes they believe in, and commitment to giving back make them one of our rockstar couples of the year.
4. Kim Kardashian And Kanye West
Too soon to call out these two on a fabulous year in the spotlight? Apparently not. Apart from the Paris debacle and subsequent rumours of separation, these two spent most of this year ogling over one another while the rest of us ogled over them. Kanye's less-than precious lunch dates of late has us questioning his sanity (as does his Twitter account) and his wife, worth a cool $140 million, remains in the wind, nonetheless, Kimye still rank as one of 2016's most powerful couples. Money isn't everything as the saying goes, and don't ask us to tell you how much they're worth - we're as confused at their finances as Donald is by his, we do however know they aren't short on cash, especially judging by pictures of their newly finished home.
Between clothes lines, apps, emojis and countless other enterprise, Kardashian is estimated to have earned around $53 million in 2016 alone. Her husband is said to be worth anything between $145 million and $180 million, which brings their total earnings near quarter of a billion status. As many fashionistas remember Kanye's show debacle during NYFW (think: fainting models, lost editor busses and skin-hued spandex), and his unforgettable FAMOUS video, this isn't an artist, who sits in the background. A rise to fame that is one for the books, many await her return anxiously and speculate whether Kanye's next business dive will be into Trump industries.
5. David and Victoria Beckham
As Victoria Beckham stores continue to pop up, Spice Girls fans everywhere rejoice that the once-broke fashion line is most definitely in the money. Her soccer star husband's foray into modelling and Victoria's continued success as designer has everyone admiring the couple that was once rumoured in trouble back during his Manchester United days. Their son's Brooklyn rise to Instagram fame have many pundits hedging their bets as to when he will make his dent on the Beckham name and begin branding his own business with his singular name. Having both 'retired' from their initial jobs that rose them to fame, the couple wear retirement well, and expensively, with their estimated worth to be somewhere north of $700 million.
A special mention: couples to watch out for in 2017.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markie
Once they decide to come out and begin doing official tours for the crown, these two will rival Kate and Wills as the palace's fairytale couple. Having had a rough start to the relationship, we're hoping the U.S actress and her royal man, worth an estimated $40 million, is allowed the chance to stand her ground given her background in female activism and similar stance to feminism as us at SWAAY.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
Her daddy dearest and his father-in-law has given us all pause for thought at the end of a turbulent 2016, and this coming year could be one of Ivanka's biggest yet, with her set to acquire much of her father's responsibilities in the Trump Organization. Ivanka's outspoken nature on behalf of women, especially female entrepreneurs, and Kushner's empire will make them a pair to keep a close eye on in the coming months indeed! Love him or hate him, Ivanka's namesake lifestyle brand, which is making a killing at Macy's and Nordstrom, has certainly contributed to her net worth of $150 million.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."