Today is International Women’s Day and I am hoping to empower some of my female readers today – with song.
Women in America have had the tendency to sacrifice heart and health for others. We often feel our worth in every one else’s successes, and stand back proudly to support them in every way they require. While that sounds great in theory, we have forgotten one vital part – we are an individual, too. And spending all of our time supporting someone else often opens us up to being abused by those close to us. Some of us have endured, while others, battered and broken, have rediscovered their own power and stand twice as tall. And some of those latter women tell their stories to inspire others to do the same.
And song is a perfect medium.
I find it funny to examine women in pop culture music over the last few decades, and the transformation that female empowerment has undergone. From the free-spirited, independent party girls of the 1980s Madonna (Material Girl) and Cindi Lauper (Girls just Wanna Have Fun) to the angry grunge chick tunes like Bitch (Meridith Brooks) and just about anything by Alannis Morrisette at the time, women have tried to assert their individuality and the power of their gender. We’ve even seen some echoes of the 90s with latecomer to the party, Pink, with her in-your-face, fought-through-pain-and-now-on-top tunes, or hardcore I-don’t-give-a-sh*t, sassy, day-at-a-time pop punker Avril Lavigne.
But we are starting to see a rather interesting change.
I think women have begun to see that anger doesn’t empower or solve our problems as women. In fact, it’s rather counterproductive. Today, we are seeing more positive, reinforcing messages to young and mature women alike. We’re celebrating who we are. Our femininity. Our individuality. Our varied personalities, shapes, and sizes. And on top of it all, women have begun to allow themselves to dare to chase after their dreams.
My top favorite current girlpower songs are the following:
Brave – Sara Bareulis
I can’t get enough of this song – or Sara, for that matter. She’s strong, got a mind of her own, and wants to get us to drop the baggage holding us back (bad people, our past, our fears) and bring us all along with her.
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
This song is geared toward an open audience, but is still a very empowering song to dance wildly to in the privacy of your own living room and honor yourself as you were born.
Pocketful Of Sunshine and Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield
Natasha has a beautiful way of exploring femininity, its beauty and potential, and letting us know that life is amazing and our story is never written in stone. It’s never too late to become the women we always wanted to be. She preaches being kind to ourselves, and that we’re beholden to no one in our quest for happiness.
Firework – Katy Perry
Although her credibility as a female role model may be a bit questionable (singing about kissing girls, her scanty clothing – if any at all – in her videos, and do we all remember the Elmo clip controversy?), she has become the poster child for empowering messages for young girls.
Catch My Breath, and Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
Kelly has a unique storytelling side. I had once allowed some negative people into my life, and her songs carried me through these bad relationships where, as we woman are wont to do, we give everything even when we get nothing in return. But we learn, and realize our worth is greater than that. And we only accept those into our lives who believe the same.
Raise Your Glass – Pink
Although geared toward an open audience, Pink’s videos provide powerful imagery showing women her undaunted spirit, and inspire us all to be a little stronger, a little bolder, and a lot more confident. And she clearly tells us that we are not alone.
Do you like you? This song by Colbie Caillat directly challenges not only the beauty standards set by hollywood or movie making industry, but the fact that she has to come home loving her natural self and love who she is despite how she’s represented in many of her music videos. I love her message here, as she strips away the photoshopping, hair extensions, makeup, and stands nakedly natural, encouraging us to love ourselves and not feel we have to live up to those standards. Thank you, Colbie.
Although this video has gotten its criticism (as women who say they love themselves do), it’s an anthem for women to “wake up feeling” good about themselves no matter what, and “not need nobody else.” Feeling low? I’ll bet you anything, walking around with the mantra “If I were you I’d want to be me too” would clear that up in no time!