Female celebrities are taking back control of their narratives, stating loud and clear that the industry has humiliated them, used them and broken them—and that they’ve had enough. They’ve been setting the record straight—for themselves and for others who will come after them.

Many women in the entertainment industry—from Pamela Anderson to Megan Fox to Millie Bobby Brown to Britney Spears—are speaking out about how hypersexualization has affected the course of their careers. Emily Ratajkowski wrote a collection of essays entitled My Body in which she denounces an entire industry for its exploitation of women’s bodies while admitting to having participated blithely. “I will proclaim all of my mistakes and contradictions, for all the women who cannot do so, for all the women we’ve called muses without learning their names, whose silence we mistook for consent,” she writes. “I stood on their shoulders to get here.” Through her book, we discover a very intelligent woman who is reappropriating her body, even if she always considered exposing that body a way to seize power.

Madonna is also claiming this power. For those who criticized her appearance at this year’s Grammy Awards, the 64-year-old posted this message on her Instagram account: “I have never apologized for any of the creative choices I have made or the way that I look or dress, and I’m not going to start. I have been degraded by the media since the beginning of my career, but I understand that this is all a test, and I am happy to do the trail-blazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come.” Go, Madonna, go!

In the Netflix documentary Pamela: A Love Story, 55-year-old Anderson, who has endured misogynistic comments from late-night-talk-show hosts and received criticism of her physical appearance for years, takes full responsibility for her decisions. “I’m not a victim, and I’m not the damsel in distress,” she told Variety magazine earlier this year. “I’ve made my choices in my life. Some, obviously, were made for me, but I’ve always been able to find myself again. And it’s created a strong person and a strong parent.” Through this project, the Canadian actor put her career, her image and her ideas into perspective—and changed our perception of her at the same time.

These women, who have been abused by the media and their respective industries, are courageous. Whether they are publishing a book, the subject of a documentary, posting on Instagram or confiding to a journalist in the pages of a magazine, let’s finally give them the credit they deserve. Amplifying their voices is just one of the ways we can do them justice and move forward in the right direction. 

The April 2023 issue of ELLE Canada is available on newsstands now, in print and digitally.

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