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First Ariana Grande, now Little Mix: a powerful era for women in music

If Ariana Grande's thank u, next wasn't enough to empower young women at the moment, Little Mix are gaining respect from people everywhere for their clap-back at sexist critics.

The world has been going crazy recently for the powerful message that Ariana Grande has been promoting in her surprise release thank u, next, but it is all about Little Mix at the moment. Their new album LM5, named after the way in which fans refer to the band's phases throughout time, features many songs empowering women such as Strip, Joan of Arc, and their chart-climbing Woman Like Me. All of these are great continuations of the feminist message they've been spreading since Wings was released in 2012.

However, Little Mix have recently come under fire from critics who are now being accused of having a sexist approach towards the group's wardrobe choices. People have complained that the girls wear clothing that is too promiscuous and that they rely too much on their sexuality to sell their records, but the group is clapping back at these comments and pointing out how common it is for female music artists to be attacked for things that male artists simply wouldn't.

The message that the band has promoted for years is that women should be free to dress and present themselves in whatever way they like.

It is undeniable that Little Mix are where they are not because of any exploitation of sexuality, but simply because their music is good. However, one particular critic has had plenty of attention drawn to him for his inflammatory comments, and that is Piers Morgan (no surprises there).

He complained about an image that Little Mix used to promote both their message and their new song Strip, which is a response to these criticisms and proclaims you should love your own body and be unafraid to strip away the makeup or clothes that you use to hide your insecurities. The image shows the four girls naked and covered in written insults that seem to have been used about them personally and about their music.

While this was an empowering message of self-love, Piers Morgan seemed to think it was an attempt at an 'exploitation of nudity to sell records', a gross misinterpretation of what the women were trying to do.

The image is a demonstration of self-confidence; a way of saying that you should wear insults like a badge of honour and love whatever skin you're in. The music video that was released not long after does the same, with many women of different shapes, sizes, colours, and ages all dancing together in their underwear and loving every minute of it.

Of course, Piers Morgan hasn't got away with these comments, with both Ariana Grande and her mum stepping in to defend the girl group—and they did a great job of it. Commenting that 'I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because I choose to', Ariana Grande reinforced the point that while feminism seeks to prevent the sexualisation of women by men, it doesn't stop women wanting to be sexual people—it is about having the choice.

She also pointed out the embarrassing hypocrisy of Piers' recent tweet:

Piers Morgan's comments and attitudes are exactly what feminists are fighting against. You would think in the 21st century that we'd have reached a point where middle-aged white men can't dictate what is or isn't appropriate for successful young women to do in their career, but it seems that there's still a long way to go.

In my favourite of Grande's tweets so far, she delicately and gracefully shames the man for how he has attempted to further his status and career in such a below-the-belt kind of way:

When you think Ariana Grande can't do any more for women, she just keeps going. In recent years she has gained herself so much respect, from her amazing demonstration of how to deal with grief through her 'One Love' Manchester concert and release of thank u, next, to the way in which she has managed to shut down yet another man who has more influence than he deserves.

She is becoming an incredible role model for girls and women everywhere, and when this is paired with the strength that Little Mix are bringing to the table, this really does feel like an era of female empowerment in the music industry.

Featured image: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com