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Fighting for a Future of Female Empowerment

Throughout her career as an actress and comedian, Amy Schumer has been known to push boundaries. She actively strives to defy traditional gender stereotypes, presenting herself to the world as a representation of what it means to be a modern-day, career-driven woman. Schumer unapologetically lives her life exactly the way she wants to, serving as an empowering example of one’s refusal to let society dictate who you are as a person. Although her humor is certainly controversial and could be viewed as offensive at times, Schumer ultimately encourages women to take ownership of their lives and their bodies and be proud and secure with who they are.

This is why I was particularly excited when I saw that Amy Schumer and Blake Lively had paired up to challenge a troubling set of magazine covers that reinforce the exact gender stereotype that they and their peers are trying to tear down. On the front cover of a recent issue of Girls’ Life magazine, an image of Disney channel actress Olivia Holt is surrounded by taglines filled with troubling language, such as “Wake up pretty! Because mornings are rough…” and “My first kiss: real girls smooch and spill”. Coupled with the fact that this magazine is targeting a fairly young female age demographic, this cover is reinforcing a very negative precedent that hairstyles and outfit choices should be the main concerns of a young woman’s life. Combining this language with an image of a public star that many young girls undoubtedly look up to sends the message to viewers that this is what should be most important to them.

However, this is not the full extent of this unfortunate incident – the magazine next to it on the shelf, titled Boys’ Life, offers the headline, “Explore your future: Astronaut? Artist? Firefighter? Chef? Here’s how to be what you want to be”. The absurd contrast between these two messages is outrageous to the point of almost being humorous. This message of embracing opportunity and striving to fulfill your own potential is entirely absent from the Girls’ Life magazine. I can only imagine how the target audiences of these magazines could internalize this standard after seeing these two publications lined up side-by-side. Thankfully, Amy Schumer and Blake Lively thought this as well, posting an image of the two covers on Instagram, Schumer including the all-encompassing caption “No” and Lively following up with “Wow. @amyschumer I second that emotion. Ladies, let’s not let this happen anymore…”

Obviously, this is one example amongst hundreds of thousands of the media reinforcing the idea that women’s primary concerns are appearance-based and physically oriented while men are more focused on success and progress as an individual. This sexist discourse and limiting language has been present at countless awards shows, red carpet interviews, and was even called out during the Olympics this year. However, the most important aspect of these dated stereotypes is how we engage with and respond to them, that public icons such as Amy Schumer and Blake Lively continue to push back against unhealthy precedents and spread a message of encouragement and empowerment in response.

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Katie Anne

Notre Dame

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