Trailblazing ladies inspire change

Tina Fey stars as Liz Lemon in NBC's hit sitcom, 30 Rock. (CC BY 2.0 Peabody Awards)
Tina Fey stars as Liz Lemon in NBC’s hit sitcom, 30 Rock. (CC BY 2.0 Peabody Awards)

A look at five women who are breaking stereotypes in entertainment

It seems like almost everything we watch or listen to nowadays has some sort of message about what the “perfect woman” is. Some popular rappers describe their perfect woman as having a nice body who’s willing to have sex at any time of the day; television and film have shown women who aren’t “too” smart, “too” overweight, or are “too” anything. Some women in popular films have even been hired simply because they make a good body prop (the character serves no other purpose than to please the male viewer with her appearance).

Luckily, though, there are female entertainers out there who are fighting back against the discrimination and blatant sexism in the entertainment industry. Here are five women who have, through their own mediums, fought back against stereotypes:

Tina Fey, actress/writer
When I watched the first episode of 30 Rock, I thought it was just another show about a seemingly hopeless but beautiful woman who eventually gets her happily ever after. While Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, did end up getting her happy ending, she never broke away from being the down-to-earth, humorous, and awkward woman that she was. She never changed for others, only for herself. To me, this is a pretty good message to send to young women.

Lorde, musician
When you hear the musical style of Lorde, you can tell right away that she isn’t your typical female pop star. She doesn’t sing about being dumped or having huge parties; she sings about things she has been through, or simply tries to tell a story with her music that others can relate to. It also helps that the popular singer has fought back against photo retouching. When a photo of her singing onstage was released, the singer quickly took to social media and posted the original photo, clearly showing a complexion that wasn’t perfect.

Gina Rodriguez, actress
Ms. Rodriguez does a wonderful job of playing a new mother and pure virgin on the TV show Jane the Virgin. Rodriguez had everything going against her as an actress in the USA: she wasn’t white, and she wasn’t a size four or below. However, that didn’t stop her from landing the lead role on a popular TV show and then winning an Emmy for her performance before the show had even finished its first season! In her Emmy speech, Rodriguez credits her father for reminding her that she can and will do anything.

Amy Schumer, actress/comedian
With the popularity of her sketch show Inside Amy Schumer and her hit 2015 film Trainwreck, Schumer is breaking the rules left and right. Schumer is another actress who knows the importance of a well-written character and a joke that makes you both laugh and groan. She likes to deviate from what is “expected” of her as an actress and as a female comedian. Schumer will break down walls and barriers with a sledgehammer, and without the help of anyone else.

Adele, musician
Who doesn’t love Adele? She’s hilarious, strong, kind, and unapologetically herself. She stands up against the physical and mental “expectations” of female artists. Yes, she does sing about heartbreak, but she is able to do it in a respectful way; she doesn’t hint at who the heart-breaker is and certainly doesn’t put his name in any song or title. She also fights back when reporters ask her about her size/weight. She knows that these things don’t define her as a person or as an artist; they are simply numbers that determine nothing about her worth as a person.

Obviously, there are so many other women who are making huge changes in so many different ways, and it’s slowly but surely starting to appear in pop culture. Everybody, male or female, can help make the process of total acceptance and equality of others go faster!

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