I find that I often stumble upon people with the opinion that Katy Perry is a bad influence on teens and young girls. There exists the belief that her image is over-sexualized and degrading, or that her songs about sex and partying are inspiring girls to follow in her footsteps. Well, personally, I do hope that girls will follow in the footsteps of Katy Perry.
Besides the fact that there is nothing wrong with a woman feeling confident and sexy in her own body, the content of her songs are indeed very empowering for people of all ages – and not just girls.
1. Part of Me
The lyrics of this song blatantly tell girls that sometimes it is best to look at someone who is bringing you down or telling you how to be, and stay confident and secure enough with who you are; you shouldn’t change or get upset over what someone else thinks you should do with your life.
This song has helped many people, including myself, to get over rough break-ups and not allow their exes to keep a dark cloud of control over their heads. It offers people the strength to say that being independent is better than being in a relationship that holds you back.
“Firework” is a more obvious selection. Through these lyrics, Perry relates to anyone who may feel as though they aren’t good enough or are in a bad place in their lives and tells them that things have the potential to get better.
Personally, “Firework” is definitely my go-to pick-me-up song. It’s for anyone who feels small, like their voice doesn’t matter. She encourages her listeners to “ignite the light and let it shine”, and makes them feel as bright, powerful, mesmerizing and attention-grabbing as a firework.
3. I Kissed a Girl
That’s right – the song that started all of the slut-shaming against Katy Perry. I find this song totally empowering, because it glorifies women sexually experimenting rather than making it feel shameful.
In the song, Katy famously declares, “I kissed a girl and I liked it”, but later in the chorus mentions a boyfriend. This portrayal of sexual experimentation is more positive, as it shows a woman trying on a persona, being comfortable with it, but coming to terms with the fact that she is probably interested in guys. I also find it a good way to expose the fact that experimenting to figure out your own sexuality is not a bad thing – it is quite natural – but it also doesn’t necessarily make you a lesbian or a slut.
“Pearl” is definitely just that. Not many people know about this gem besides fans, but once I heard it, I got very emotionally attached. This song describes a girl who felt powerful and in control of her life until she got into a relationship where the man held her down, metaphorically, so that she was dependent on him. By the end, I always imagine that she breaks away and becomes a pearl once more.
Knowing that it is possible for a person to go from feeling strong, to weak, to strong again is super empowering on its own.
Now, this is one of the more controversial songs, understanding that Katy Perry has a huge audience of young girls. “Peacock” is about a woman who is very excited to get the chance to see her man’s… equipment. This song, much like “I Kissed a Girl”, is an invitation for slut-shamers, but I will defend to the death that woman are allowed to have as much casual sex as men, and be just as proud and excited about it.
Having a song out there like “Peacock” is finally a portrayal in the media of a woman who wants to see a man naked and in a way that depicts her as the one in charge.
6. Circle the Drain
The lyrics in this song tell the story of a woman who is in a relationship with a man who is addicted to pills and alcohol, and rather than letting him bring her down, she chooses to leave.
This may seem selfish, but it’s selfish for her partner to waste away her life as she tries to fix his problems. Katy Perry sings, “I wanna be your lover, not your f—ing mother”, and she’s right; it’s not her job to take care of him. Relationships go two ways, and the partners involved should put equal effort into being independent and helping one another.
I’ll finish off this list with “E.T.” because I could keep going for a while. Most people know “E.T.” as a good song to dance to, but to me, it is a hugely empowering song.
When taken literally, it’s about someone falling in love with an alien and getting them to take him/her away. But if every song KP wrote was literal, “Peacock” would be about a guy with a bird in his pants. To me, “E.T.” symbolizes someone falling for a person who is seen as strange or different and wanting to be with them anyway.
Another form of empowerment and following your own heart is not being swayed by the voices of others persuading you to do something you know isn’t right for you, and being strong enough to choose your perfect partner when someone finds them odd is pretty empowering.
As I said, many more of her songs can fit on this list, Katy Perry is truly an artist that highlights independence and not following the crowd, and her songs should hopefully inspire her wide audience to do the same.