Thank U, Next

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There’s no denying that Ariana Grande has undergone an enormous change since her days as Cat Valentine in Nickelodeon’s hit show ‘Victorious’. And despite the swirl of controversy surrounding Ariana Grande – allegedly demanding that her body guard carries her, feuds with co-stars, diva behaviour, the infamous ‘I hate Americans’ donut licking video –the tough time the singer has had to face is also undeniable. Not only did a terrible terrorist attack take place at one of her concerts last year killing twenty-two people (the Manchester Area Bombing), but she also found herself being blamed for the drug overdose of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, following her swift engagement to then-new boyfriend Pete Davidson. That’s an awful lot of guilt and trauma for someone so young (25) to have to deal with.  As Ariana Grande has changed and grown as a person, so too has her style, reinforcing the notion of her being not only a style icon, but also a feminist icon, tying in perfectly with her promotion of self-love, women’s sexual liberation and body positivity.

Image: Alamy

In 2012…

Ariana Grande first reached acclaim as a style icon – though perhaps more in our hearts than with the world of fashion – during her time on ‘Victorious’, with her wardrobe consisting mainly of fun and flirty dresses and heels. Her look was girly and cutesy, the type of innocent and pretty demeanour that all Nickelodeon stars must possess. She served us up some classic looks, while still maintaining the channel’s pristine, PG friendly reputation.

In 2014…

Image: Sawfirst

With ‘Victorious’ ending in 2013 and ‘Sam and Cat’ ending in 2014, Ariana was free of her Nickelodeon contract and able to branch out a little more with regards to her fashion choices. At 21 years old, Ari’s wardrobe choices began to embrace her sexuality more, with the singer/actress showing more skin and distancing herself from her ‘pure-as-pure’ child star image. It was also during this time that she donned her legendary cat ears, for reasons that were never fully clear. Either way, this demonstrated that despite the fact that she was growing up and away from Cat Valentine, her look would still have the occasional childish playfulness to it that had captured fans initially.

Image: Weheartit

In 2016…

After fully shedding her former image and creating a name for herself as an independent artist in the music industry, Ariana’s personal style developed even more rapidly. Keeping up to date with modern trends while incorporating her own flair, Ari’s look entailed a lot of crop tops/barrettes and high heels, always high heels (she is only 5ft, after all). Her on-stage outfits began to get skimpier, as many news sites bitterly noticed, reflecting that perhaps she felt more comfortable in her skin with the coming years.

In 2018…

Image: TeenVogue

Having swapped the trademark red hair of Cat Valentine for a more muted copper colour and then a chestnut brown, Ariana’s current hair colour is an icy platinum blonde, but check back next week, it’ll likely change again. Her current look is a more mature look than her previous ensembles, but is most definitely classic Ariana.

BUT WHAT DOES ARIANA GRANDE STAND FOR? WHY IS SHE CONSIDERED A FEMINIST ICON?

Ariana Grande has been very outspoken online and in interviews on matters of feminism – specifically fourth wave feminism – condemning the objectification of women and slut-shaming and the violence this can lead to, as well as promoting body positivity, women’s empowerment and women’s sexual liberation.

DOES SHE DESERVE THIS TITLE?

Ariana has utilised her massive worldwide platform – 59.1 million twitter followers – to voice her beliefs and spreads positive messages to women everywhere. For example, clapping back at Piers Morgan’s tweet about girl group Little Mix using their bodies to sell music rather than their talent, defending women’s rights to their own sexuality and her epic twitter rant about the double standards men and women today face in regards to sex.

 

OUR CONCLUSION

Ariana Grande has grown up a lot in the past year as a result of all the trauma and will hopefully one day go on to be an indisputable feminist icon and put all the former controversy behind her. Whether you love her or you hate her, you can’t deny that ‘thank you, next’ is an incredibly mature response to all that has happened to her. The song doesn’t slam her exes or blame them for the break up, it simply names them, showing that they were an important part of her life at one point. The song encourages people to learn from their experiences and grow from them, instead of becoming bitter or feeling desperate for closure, conveying the idea that self-love is the truest love of all. This notion of self-love and confidence can again be linked back to her personal style, with her outfit choices reflecting that she accepts herself as she is and isn’t afraid for others to see her.

Though there might not seem to be a link between her clothes and her beliefs, choosing to own her sexuality in the face of criticism and wear whatever the hell she wants is in itself a bold statement to make for such a public figure. Through her wardrobe, Ariana is teaching her young fan base that it’s okay to be sexy – as women, we stand a good chance of being objectified no matter what we wear (hands up if you’ve ever been catcalled while wearing a school uniform?) and we should not blame ourselves for this. Yes, we should be cautious and not totally disregard safety, but instead of teaching our daughters to cover up and be ashamed of their bodies and the unwanted attention they can bring, we should simply teach our sons to respect women regardless of how they dress.

So not only have we been inspired by her style, we’ve also been inspired by her outlook on life. Thank you, next!

By Tasha Johnson