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Why Olivia Rodrigo Is an Effortless Feminist Icon

After a year of success in the music industry, people are beginning to wonder how Olivia Rodrigo became so popular so fast.

How can an 18-year-old girl go from being virtually unknown to having 11 songs debut within the top 40 of the Hot 100 in a year? Rodrigo closed out 2021 being Time’s Entertainer of the Year. It’s not just her ability to write catchy tunes that have accounted for her massive success. It’s also her relatability – her unfiltered self.

The same teenage girl who was able to dominate the Billboard charts and all of our Spotify Wrapped rankings last year is the same teenage girl that used to write One Direction fanfiction from her room. She called charting next to her idol, Taylor Swift, “the highlight of her senior year.”  Not only has Rodrigo openly admitted to being a stereotypical fangirl, but she’s done so proudly.

The idea that we have of “fangirls” is that they are boy-obsessed teenage girls who know nothing about what real music is. The reality is they are more powerful than we let ourselves believe. They determine what’s popular, what charts and what ultimately flops. It was teenage fangirls that brought The Beatles, arguably one of the most respected bands of all time, to their ultimate fame. It’s teenage fangirls that determine what songs we hear on the radio, what trends become popular and which artists will make millions selling out stadiums.

By openly being what we call a “fangirl” or “boy-obsessed,” Rodrigo is proving women can take the music industry by storm by being funny and relatable yet articulate, talented and professional at the same time. We don’t have to limit ourselves to the boxed-in personalities society tries to give us. Yes, women can like cheesy pop music and still be professional businesswomen. They can fawn over Harry Styles while topping the charts themselves.

Rodrigo proves this point without even trying. By simply being open about the things she enjoys instead of being ashamed, she shows there is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to our interests. You don’t need to act masculine or overly serious in order to be successful. 

To quote Rodrigo herself, “I’m a teenage girl; I write about stuff that I feel really intensely – and I feel heartbreak and longing really intensely – and I think that’s authentic and natural.”

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Emma Barber

Montclair '23

Emma is a junior at Montclair State University, studying Social Media & Public Relations and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies.
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