How Feminism Influences Media and Pop Culture Icons

Daniella Sannuti, Staff Writer

Looking back and seeing what women have accomplished in history is an inspiring journey to study. Years ago, those ‘get back to the kitchen’ comments were not a joke and an education was something to fight for. Women have been expected to be many different things: to look like models, but dress modestly, receive an education, but not to rise to CEO. Thankfully the intelligent, strong-willed and determined women of our past have paved the way for bright young girls to keep up the fight to end discrimination among the sexes.
Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men. In other words, the “F-word” formally, and arguably even currently, holds negative connotations. In the recent years, American feminists have been making strides. Celebrities, moms, young women and political members have strongly declared their stance on feminism.

Not only have powerful public figures taken a stance on this issue, but popular companies have as well. In 2004, Dove launched the “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” which shed light on the pressure put on women and girls to strive for unrealistic perfection. Mile-long legs, toothpick-sized waists, airbrushed skin and toned arms were the pedestal for perfection, yet impossible to achieve. Dove called for a wider definition of beauty and used “real” women as models in their advertisements.

Another popular store brand, American Eagle, has used this approach as well. Their sister store Aerie released their “Untouched” campaign earlier this year, featuring photos of models that were unaltered in all of their ads. A store targeted to younger women in the 15-21 age demographic, the untouched women were meant to show shoppers that Photoshop is not the definition of true beauty. The website shows women of different sizes flaunting every natural curve, stretch mark and scar because that is what real beauty is.
In the past ten years, brands have been using these types of marketing tactics; one’s which cater to the average woman. Even the popular food brand, Special K, has released commercials celebrating women regardless of their weight. The women’s feminine care product line, Always, started the “#LikeAGirl” movement that showed how detrimental those very three words can be.

Their commercial asked young girls and boys to perform the same tasks, but when they added “like a girl” their task was performed much more delicate and ridiculous. These tasks can portray how we view girls our society, which prompts them to grow up thinking they will never be as good as a man. Luckily, it seems that more brands and media are stepping up and showing girls that this isn’t acceptable.

Music can usually serve as an escape to a place where everything will be okay. Recently, turning on the radio and hearing distasteful lyrics regarding women’s bodies makes it seem that these misconceptions surrounding beauty are everywhere. However, musical artists are now joining these media and marketing campaigns for representation of real beauty and equality and are still ruling the airwaves.

Nine-time Grammy winning singer-songwriter John Legend released a powerful music video to go along with his beautiful song, ‘You & I.’ His lyrics call for the true beauty that women use makeup to hide behind for fear of judgments based on stereotypes. It features many types of women, from strong breast cancer survivors to a transgender female.
This is not the first time a musical artist called for the removal of makeup that masks the natural beauty of females. Colbie Calliat has called out society for pushing women to the brink with pressure from unrealistic standards. Her lyrics bash beauty and sexual expectations and raises the question of confidence among girls. This song shows women in the music video stripping themselves free of makeup while fighting off these unrealistic standards.

The most recent call for equality among the sexes comes from R&B/Hip-Hop idol, Beyoncé. Queen Bey closed the MTV Video Music Awards on August 24 with a bang, declaring herself a feminist and slamming down any and all divorce rumors with husband Jay-Z. In her sixteen minute medley, Beyoncé sung songs from her popular self-titled visual album. During the powerful set, Beyoncé’s lungs proclaimed empowering lyrics, from the equality in the bedroom song “Blow” to claiming being sexual is okay in “Partition”. If anyone could have misinterpreted her lyrics for being anything but feminist, Beyoncé cleared the air during the introduction to “Flawless.” Opening up to the commanding words from an excerpt from a TED Talk given by intelligent writer and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Queen of R&B stood with grace in front of the word “Feminist.” The spine-tingling performance ended with Beyoncé receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

This has been an empowering year for women. Now more than ever people are standing up for equality between sexes. People from across the world are coming together to end this fight that has gone on for too long. With this rise in support, feminism can be looked at in a bright light and there will be equality once and for all.

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