Olivia Rodrigo is representative of the music industry’s double standard

Female artists are forced to reinvent themselves yet are criticized for doing so.

Olivia Rodrigo wearing a Saint Laurent dress at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala on Sept. 25.

Deposit Photos

Olivia Rodrigo wearing a Saint Laurent dress at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala on Sept. 25.

Cara Rieber, Staff Writer

Olivia Rodrigo turned heads at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala earlier this fall in a black Saint Laurent dress. The dress featured a low-cut neckline and thigh split. To anyone familiar with Rodrigo’s previous looks, this is a surprising divergence. One might wonder “why?”

Rodrigo came out with her debut album, “SOUR,” in May. The album tells the story of love gone wrong. In essence, it is a breakup album. The album received criticism on social media by those who thought it was narratively simple and the concept overdone.

But I would argue that the true reason the album received so much criticism is because “SOUR” was an album made for teenage girls. Rodrigo tells the story of heartbreak, insecurity, anger and jealousy in her startlingly authentic lyrics — and it resonated deeply with teenage girls across the country. 

Our society does not take media made for teenage girls seriously. It is often dismissed as frivolous, so, it’s no wonder that Rodrigo would want to present a more sophisticated image after her album was released. 

Taylor Swift elaborated on this idea in her documentary “Miss Americana”:

 “The female artists have reinvented themselves 20 times more than the male artists. They have to or else you’re out of a job. Constantly having to reinvent, constantly finding new facets of yourself that people find to be shiny.”

This appears to be the case with Rodrigo, as well as many other female artists — especially when she has been previously associated with an image characterized by her youth and her identity as a teenage girl. It’s also no surprise considering her origins as a Disney Channel star in the 2016 show “Bizaardvark” and in her current role as Nina in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” 

Billie Eilish faced this same issue when she re-invented her image with the release of “Happier Than Ever.” Eilish had previously been distinguished by her choice to dress in non-form fitting clothes but decided to make a change.

When she began to present herself in more form-fitting clothing, particularly wearing a corset on the cover of British “Vogue,” Eilish said on her Instagram story that she lost a significant number of followers with her decision. 

“I lost 100,000 followers, just because of the boobs. People are scared of big boobs.” 

Back at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala, Rodrigo was criticized for her look. Many said she was too young to be wearing such a scandalous dress. 

The point I’m trying to make is that female artists are continually forced to recreate their images while simultaneously being shamed when they do. Rodrigo represents the struggle that many women experience in the music industry.