What we can learn from the pop divas of today

Pop music: so often ridiculed by certain parts of the media for being trashy, brainless and even derogatory. The mundane repetition of lyrics set to annoyingly catchy, buoyant beats can be grating at times and turning on Radio 1 can feel like an admission of defeat. But when we look at the female pop artists of today, there are many things we can learn from them and they actually make excellent role models for young women.

Take Ariana Grande, one of the most topical and current popstars of 2018. Undoubtedly, she has had a rough time of it lately with the Manchester bombing attack killing 22 of her fans, her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller tragically passing away and her very public engagement to Pete Davidson being called off unexpectedly. Despite all of this trauma, she has managed to release an outstanding album, Sweetener, that addresses and maturely deals with her suffering and subsequent mental health struggle. A notable single, Breathin, directly addresses her battle with anxiety, sending a very self-aware message to fans and proving that mental health struggles can be overcome. The fact that she has been able to continue to release music through all her hardship is truly admirable and demonstrates a strong working ethic and mental resolve that we should all try to emulate.

Recently, she released the first track from her next album, titled Thank u, next, which references all her public relationships and all that they have taught her, giving a mature and respectful nod to her famous exes. In a particularly notable verse, she sings ‘I met someone else…her name is Ari and I’m so good with that’. This reflects her personal choice to take a break from public relationships and focus on self-love and appreciation, again displaying a remarkably mature response to a messy breakup and demonstrating to her female fans that self-worth should come from within, not from a man.

Another pop star with some admirable intentions is Taylor Swift. Though she has frequently come under fire for her feud with Katy Perry that demonstrates an anti-feminist girl v girl battle, she has also demonstrated many redeeming actions. The most notable of these is undoubtedly her law suit against David Mueller, who groped her inappropriately in 2013. The DJ sought to sue Taylor for up to $3 million for defamation of character after she accused him of sexual assault; she counter sued him for simply $1 as an ideological crusade against sexual assault. Her victory in the trial was symbolic of female solidarity and a lack of tolerance for assault in any form, giving a strong message of empowerment to her fans that was extremely respectable. In more recent times, she has been leading a social media campaign encouraging her fans to vote in the US midterm elections, promoting a positive message to young fans of democracy and making sure their voices are heard.

Girl group Little Mix’s music has recently caught media attention for its strong feminist message. Their single Woman Like Me with Nicki Minaj is a feminist anthem which celebrates a non-traditional form of femininity. The band themselves described its purpose as ‘celebrating incredible women’ of all different kinds. It is a powerful appraisal of women who do not conform to societal expectations, featuring empowering lyrics such as ‘insecure but I’m working with it’. Their collaboration with Minaj is crucial in depicting strong female relationships, not fraught with competition and tension, as many pop rivals tend to be.

Their most recent song, Joan of Arc celebrates strong female figures throughout history, including the eponymous Joan of Arc and Cleopatra. It has openly and unashamedly feminist lyrics, such as ‘I don’t need a man’ and ‘You on that feminist tip? Hell yeah, I am!’ By releasing such female positive anthems, the band are using their platform for a positive and inspiring purpose, giving real meaning to their music.

A further notable female pop artist is Selena Gomez. Having openly struggled with both physical and mental health problems in the public eye before, she is accustomed to brutal honesty with her fans and is very vocal about self-care. Her recent decision to take a break from social media is inspiring as she has decided to put her own health above her public image and career, something we can all learn from and should aim to recreate in our own lives. In her post declaring her intention to take a break, she wrote ‘Just remember- negative comments can hurt anybody’s feelings’, spreading a positive and empowering message to her fans amid social media toxicity.

One can really see, even from this small selection of pop stars, how amazing celebrities can be as role models today. Amid public figures promoting weight loss products and physical appearances, these women really demonstrate a way in which one can use their public platform for good. So next time you hear someone talking trash about pop stars of today, remember all the good they can do and pass on the inspiration.