How Lana Del Rey Promotes Feminism Through Her Sad Girl Persona

Bella Chirkis ’27

Staff Writer

Singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey makes “atmospheric, orchestral, retro-60’s- sounding pop that showcases her torchy image and sensuously husky singing style,” according to IMBD. A lot of Del Rey’s popularity as a singer stems from her “sad girl persona.” She writes about the troubles in her life and creates an environment for listeners to relate and understand what women may go through in toxic relationships and stereotypical feminine standards set by society. Del Rey has created a soundtrack for the sadness of many young women’s lives, normalizing the emotional feelings that women are often looked down upon for having. 

Lana Del Rey has often been criticized for her music, as many music critics find her lyrics to be morbid or mournful. These critical qualities are often what many people find appealing about her music as she creates this normalcy of feminine vulnerability that many girls have insecurities about. Other critics believe that Del Rey’s sadness is perceived almost as an aesthetic, a sadness that women should be leaning into instead of ignoring. But these criticisms in my opinion are not valid, and they are highlighting that women should bottle up their emotions, instead of being open about the things that they are going through. Del Rey creates a safe environment to tap into your emotions instead of disregarding hardships. 

Each of this artist’s albums tap into different issues or hardships that Lana Del Rey has experienced in her life, hardships that most women can relate to in some point of their own lives. In one of her older albums, “Ultraviolence,” Lana Del Rey writes about an abusive relationship between a singer and a man, personifying alcoholism as a toxic man. This album has further been recognized as a battle between a woman and her own desires. A woman knows her own potential but comes to the realization that she may have to let go of some of her fantasies in order to truly obtain it. Del Rey’s newest studio album “Did You Know There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard” is both a tribute to her family and an expression of her fears of becoming a more mature woman, also reflecting her new engagement. 

Del Rey refuses to be apologetic towards her critics, creating a powerful and liberating quality that attributes to modern day feminism. She makes girls feel better about their own sadness. She does not regulate her words and make herself more appealing to men: “I’m a different kind of woman/If you want some basic girl, go to the Beverly Center and find her” (“Sweet” by Lana Del Rey). The art that Del Rey creates leans into the insanity and misery that many women face in their lives and defies the idea that women need to behave like men in order to properly fit into society. 

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