Female Icons in Media

It is a given that throughout history, women have been oppressed and limited in their social abilities. However, through acts in the feminist movement and the many women who have advocated for female empowerment, we can see drastic changes in modern day. Women have gained their rights to vote, to work the same jobs as men, and to express themselves more freely. Some of the largest changes have been made by women in the media, who have fearlessly ruffled the feathers of the oppressors. To celebrate the advances made by women throughout history, The Lodi Rampage wanted to commemorate iconic female figures in the arts. These performers have pushed the boundaries of what is “socially acceptable,” and furthered acceptance of female equality.

Mariah Carrey

Born in New York, Mariah Carrey is known for her incredible vocal skills, her signature whistle note, and her range which spans above four octaves. She hit stardom in the 90s when Visions of Love from her debut album peaked at number one on the charts. In a male dominated industry, many underestimated her successes; however, she would go on to achieve even more hits with her next record, Emotions. She went from working as a waitress in Manhattan to a legendary music diva, exemplifying that women can most definitely achieve their goals no matter the challenge.


Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most recognizable names from the jazz scene. Born in 1917, she had a rough childhood, dealing with familial loss and the circumstances of moving homes; however, this did not stop her from pursuing the arts. Although her original goal was to be a dancer, one night at a competition altered her path when she had to make the last minute decision to sing in front of an audience instead. She accumulated supporters throughout her career, having concert goers stunned by her vocal prowess every time. She also originated scat, a form of vocal artistry that jazz artists have continued to incorporate since. In a time of intolerance and racism, Ella Fitzgerald proved that a black female artist can rise against the odds and she solidified herself as a successful star.



Oprah is one of the most well known modern television personalities. Growing up in Mississippi, she had a history of experiencing sexual abuse, and eventually moved from her abusive family to Tennessee. There, she began to study broadcasting at University, and then landed a job in Maryland with the show People Are Talking. Viewers loved Winfrey, and it reflected in ratings of her future shows. With her warm and welcoming personality, years of work and dedication culminated into her solidifying her own program, the Oprah Winfrey Show. Although many talk shows at the time were all about gossip, her ability to keep her show light hearted and sweet kept it popular for years. Oprah has then become a billionaire; in fact, she is one of the wealthiest black women from the twentieth century. She is known for her charitable nature, donating to multiple charities and giving away money on her own show. She is an example of overcoming ones trauma- going from a troubled youth to a successful broadcast personality.



Madonna, as one of the most controversial female figures of all time, paved the path for many female celebrities after her. From the beginning of her career to now, she has always challenged what is acceptable for a woman to express and believe. In her True Blue era, she tackled topics like teen pregnancy with “Papa Don’t Preach and strutted her sensuality through her cone bra outfit shown inExpress Yourself.” She has even been banned by MTV before for her provocative performance in “Justify My Love,” leading to her create the first VHS single. She has generated conversation in the industry that has led to significant acceptance and support for female artistry and self expression today.


Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani was a former member of the American rock band, No Doubt. In fact, Gwen stood out as the only female members in the group. She gained notoriety through her work with them, producing hits like “Don’t Speak and “Spiderwebs.” One of her largest accomplishments, however, was the track “Just A Girl,” an undoubtedly feminist anthem, sarcastically poking fun at a male dominated society. She has gone on to win many awards ranging from the Grammys to MTV for her band and solo work.


Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is a critically acclaimed and beloved pop icon. She began practicing her musical artistry at a young age and went through sacrifices in order to make her art come to fruition. She worked as a gogo dancer and played at venues and clubs all over New York while taking time for her endeavors on the side. When she finally hit the limelight and released her record The Fame, she became an instant target of public controversy due to her avant grade fashion and aesthetic. Her fashion, such as the infamous meat dress which was created in retaliation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies, and her “Paparrazi” performance at the 2009 VMAs solicited her as a contentious figure. Lady Gaga is revered as a female empowerment icon due to her ability to be outspoken while also artistically articulating her views.


Patti LuPone

The legendary broadway actress has been the face of many musicals, playing roles like Eva Peron in Evita and Fantine en Les Miserables. Her talent is recognized beyond broadway due to her demanding stage presence and vocal prowess. Apart from her nationwide recognition, she is also known for being outspoken and honest. She is vocal on her political beliefs, speaking on them in interviews from the “Tony Awards” to “Show People with Paul Wontorek.” She has also gotten into feuds involving Sunset Boulevard. Although some may call her a diva, her fearlessness in being vocal and blunt is admired by many. She is a great example for women, displaying that they should not have to keep quiet on their beliefs and should always stand up for themselves, even when society tells them not to.


Janet Jackson

Known for her hit songs such as “Nasty,” Janet was part of the legendary Jackson family. She was surrounded by the music industry her whole life, as were the rest of her siblings. In fact, despite being the youngest out of her siblings, she was not a part of the original Jackson 5. Instead, she focused on solo work, performing as early as 8 years old on her family’s show. Her talent led her to early acting opportunities, leading to her being a part of sitcoms like Different Strokes. However, her later involvement with the DeBarge band and her romantic affiliations with James DeBarge led her to a more music-related career. From thereon out, she released her debut album with the help of her brother, Michael, and developed a large-scale fanbase. She would go on to win many awards and even perform at the Super Bowl (despite some controversy). Despite the popularity and status of her brother, she was able to hold up her own and create a household name for herself, by herself.



Beyonce, one of the most well respected artists of our time, began seeking success from a young age. She competed at local performance based events, winning and gaining notoriety for her vocals. Eventually, she became part of a girl group, Destiny’s Child, which struck gold with tracks such as “Say My Name and “Bootylicious.” After much success and popularity through her collaborations with the band, she eventually broke out into her own career. She has only increased in fame since, becoming critically acclaimed and winning multiple Grammys. Beyonce is well known for her stance on political issues, constantly fighting for racial justice and standing with the Black Lives Matter movement. She has received backlash from right wingers for her activism, but is appreciated by many for her fearlessness in standing with her black community. She is a testament that raw talent and passion can take you places, and that those with a large platform can always use it for good.


Ariana Grande

One of the most recent stars on this list, the beloved pop singer began performing as a child. She began on broadway, playing the part of Charlotte in 13. This opened up a realm of acting roles for the young actress, leading her to star in Victorious as Cat Valentine. However, after years in the acting industry, she left in order to pursue music, something she had always been passionate about. She has had a fruitful career since, striking multiple number one hits such as “Thank U Next and “Problem.” She is adored by many in the younger demographic because they grew up with her, watching her transition into an art form she loves. She is also outspoken on her political beliefs- actively supporting the lgbtq+ community and women. She is a role model for many women in the younger generation, proving to them that pursuing your dreams as a young female artist is achievable.


Dolly Parton

The 9 to 5 icon grew up in Tennessee alongside a poor family. Despite financial challenges, she kick started her career at the age of 10, participating in local television and radio gigs. As her status built up, she began to collaborate with country artist Porter Wagoner, and they made country music for several years before Dolly went solo. Afterwards, her successes with songs like “Joleneled her to breaking out in film with 9 to 5. She is a beloved female star, known beyond her music and truly for her warm and loving personality. She has proved that regardless of origin, what can really take one far is their efforts, talents, and charisma.


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