It’s all about girl power — until it isn’t
When Lorde’s newest album, “Solar Power,” came out, many were upset it didn’t sound like her previous work. Fans’ emotional attachment to her other albums almost kept them from growing with her and enjoying her new sound. Similarly, despite her various other successful ventures, people are still demanding new music from Rihanna. Female artists, especially those who start their careers young, face backlash when they grow up or decide to be something other than what society made them to be. Why do we have a hard time accepting when female artists change? Why do we place expectations on them only to face disappointment when they don’t meet them?
As a society, we need to assess how we treat our female artists and the harm this causes them.
Lorde has had a cult following since “Royals” hit the airwaves in 2013. Her music resonated with a generation so purely that it felt like we were right there with her, crying in the taxi during “Liability” and hanging out with her in her childhood bedroom while Ribs played on repeat. But this level of connection gave some fans an impression of ownership. They couldn’t help but feel left out when, all of a sudden, Lorde had ditched the darkness for yellow and sunshine on “Solar Power.” She had moved on. And while she was inviting fans to move on with her, she was met with resistance and criticism. Fans wanted the brooding, moody — and dare I say esoteric — Lorde back.
For many artists, part of the issue is their young start in showbiz. It is difficult to accept adult themes from stars after you watched them grow up on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. But in this lies a blatant double standard. Justin Timberlake never faced the same backlash as Britney Spears despite both of their starts as child performers. One case-study-to-be is Olivia Rodrigo. She is currently in the sweet spot of the media’s affection. She is on the bridge between Disney ingenue and legitimate sensation. She is not taken seriously in the same way as her older counterparts, but she is also not yet held to the same standards and expectations. Unfortunately, we can expect that in the eyes of news outlets, critics and fans, she will meet the same fate as all the female performers who have come before her.
In the Taylor Swift/Phoebe Bridgers collab of our dreams, “Nothing New”, they sing:
“They tell you while you're young
"Girls, go out and have your fun"
Then they hunt and slay the ones who actually do it.”
We have a responsibility to uplift the female role models we are given. We cannot afford to put women in the spotlight against each other, criticize them for their emotions, and force them to succumb to what the media wants them to look and sound like.
Young girls deserve to see every type of woman not only represented but championed.
If Lorde is a season of reflection and self-realization, let’s try and meet her there. If Taylor Swift wants to reclaim and rerecord all her songs, let’s support her. If Rihanna wants to spend less time making music and more time as an entrepreneur extraordinaire, let’s just let her. These women owe us nothing, yet they continue to deliver in their own incredible ways. At the end of the day, their work makes the world we live in a more tolerable, vibrant and inclusive place — and that is what we must remember.
Alex Mowrey is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She's a big fan of rice krispies treats, Ikea, and complex female characters!