THE EMANCIPATION OF ARI

—story by Bianca Betancourt

When Ariana Grande first debuted onto the pop scene with her first single "The Way" I was less than impressed. 

Though the song was catchy and it did eventually make an appearance on my Top 25 on iTunes (remember iPods!?) I couldn't sing along without recognizing the blatant influence Mariah Carey had on the song. Here was a girl who could sing but couldn't find a professional persona of her own that didn't obviously echo one of music's greatest singers ever. 

Her star continued to rise however, single after single being released. We recieved Problem, Bang Bang, Love Me Harder. Girls a few years younger than me constantly praised "Ari" and the goddess-like enigma that was her voice. I've never claimed Grande to be dumb however, and as her career solidified and her celebrity status grew, she slowly but surely stripped away the bubble gum tulle layers I'm assuming her management had forced her to wear in the beginning. 

Aside from the skirts getting shorter and the eyeshadow a little smudgier, Grande began to speak up. Her legendary post-breakup essay after the dissolution of her relationship with Big Sean echoed the frustrations of every woman who's been forced to choose between being independent and being in love. From that moment, themes of female empowerment and unapologetic sexuality ran fluid in Grande's upcoming work. It's most evident in her latest music video release for "Dangerous Woman", linked above.

Sure, there's not much plot wise happening in the video and it's simply a seductively filtered Grande rolling around in luxe lingerie—but then it's more than that. It's the fact that finally we're at a point where a woman can roll around on lingerie in camera if she wants to, on her terms, through her point of view rather than through the overused, oversimplified male gaze. That and the fact she's finally not wearing a half-up, half-down ponytail anymore (#FreeThePony).

Whether one wants to believe it or not, we're finally in the midst of a new wave of feminism—maybe you can argue it's the peak of the third, maybe it's an entirely new set and beginning of the fourth. Chronological order doesn't matter. What matters is that finally in a scene as mainstream as pop music we have female artists and musicians that are one hundred percent unapologetic— of their sexuality, of their lyrics and of what they stand for.

Call us sluts. Tell us we should cover up.

We don't care anymore.

With that, I'm excited to see what's next for Ariana and if the theme of the wild, unpredictable and uncensored woman will continue throughout the threading of her album. Dangerous Woman is set to be released at the end of May. 

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