On Thursday night, Ariana Grande revealed her newest single “7 Rings.”
An ode to girl power and retail therapy, the song "7 Rings" features boasts about Grande’s wealth and material luxuries like diamond rings and Louboutins. But this kind of materialism may be sending harmful messages to Grande’s audience.
Money Can’t Solve Everything
It’s no secret that Ariana Grande has had a rough few years. In May 2017, her concert at Manchester Arena was tragically attacked by terrorist suicide bombers. In 2018, the death of her ex Mac Miller and a broken engagement to Pete Davidson came in quick succession. But instead of dealing with her trauma in constructive ways, Grande admits to using shopping to cope.
In “7 Rings” she sings, “Think retail therapy my new addiction/ Whoever said money can't solve your problems/ Must not have had enough money to solve ‘em.” Essentially, the singer is saying that spending money on champagne, diamonds, and Louboutins heals her pain. This is a highly toxic way of dealing with emotions for many reasons. Shopping doesn’t address the underlying issues behind anxiety and depression. It only serves to cover trauma with temporary fulfillment that fades as quickly as the glow of purchasing a new item. The short-lived rush of instant gratification – “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” – will leave you feeling emptier than before.
Consumerism Is Not Empowerment
The kind of conspicuous consumption in “7 Rings” is hardly unique in the music industry. However, what’s concerning is the way Grande frames it as empowerment. On her Instagram page, the singer posted a since-deleted response to the song by Halleta Alemu. Alemu writes, “If you think this song is solely superficial, you are missing the entire point, this goes so much deeper than the material. This is an anthem for the 21st-century woman who doesn’t need permission and especially doesn’t need a man.”
The problem with this statement is that it frames boastful wealth and materialism as empowerment. Firstly, it’s a major slap in the face to the majority of Grande’s fans, who may never be able to afford a pair of $725 shoes. But also, being empowered as a woman has nothing to do with flaunting wealth and material possessions.
Real Power Is Building Good Character
According to skillsyouneed.com, personal empowerment means to analyze your strengths and weaknesses, set realistic goals, and attain your true potential. This, not spending money on luxurious items, will build confidence and strength. Similarly, a survey launched by For Girls GLocal Leadership found that 46% of young women cited self-awareness as the source of their empowerment. Real virtue is in building good character traits, like compassion, generosity, tenacity, not in the things you purchase. It’s better to improve yourself and be modest than to flash your wealth for everyone to see.
Grande claims that expensive jewelry makes her happy. But as the cliché goes, the best things in life are free. Family, friends, pets, nature, and spirituality are sources of real happiness that don’t cost a thing.
“7 Rings” masquerades as an empowerment anthem, but ultimately sells a false ideal of confidence to Ariana Grande’s young audience. While retail therapy seems glamorous, it's not a real source of joy or virtue. Happiness, despite what Grande says, is far more priceless than red-bottoms could ever be.