The Philanthropy Behind Culture’s Criticisms
Alden Wiygul | Contributing Writer
Ever since the technology boom in the 2000s it has been easier than ever to consume mass amounts of good and bad news from all over the world. Due to a negative bias causing people to have stronger psychophysiological reactions to negative news, society has become magnetically drawn to stories of hate. The population receiving most of this loathing public gaze has been celebrity women. They are constantly criticized and most articles ran about them center around their societal missteps, which includes anything from them holding their baby wrong to talking badly about a yogurt shop. With all of the constant negativity polluting the atmosphere more than Taylor Swifts private jet, society must now turn their attention to the celebrity women who deserve to be talked about for their positive impacts on the world.
Even if the tabloids don’t cover it, celebrity women have been using their influence for good. Many have had endless compassion for those in need, and this has been demonstrated by their actions, both public and private. Jane Fonda has been participating in political activism since the 1960s when she supported the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement against the Vietnam War. In 1988 Audrey Hepburn became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, going on her first mission to help an Ethiopian orphanage and in 1991 Elizabeth Taylor founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDs Foundation (ETAF), an organization that raises funds and awareness to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In the 2000s, female celebrity activism skyrocketed even further with powerful leaders like Alicia Keys cofounding Keep a Child Alive, an organization that makes HIV medications accessible to families in Africa, and Eva Longoria cofounding Eva’s Heroes to provide programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Jennifer Lopez then cofounded the Lopez Family Foundation in 2009, working to give health care to women and children who cannot afford it, and in 2010 Lady Gaga teamed with MAC AIDS to create a lipstick raising $34 million to support individuals with HIV/AIDS. In 2012 Angelina Jolie was appointed the Special Envoy to the UNHCR and co-launched the Preventing Sexual Violence In Conflict Initiative, ending impunity for sexual violence in war zones and giving assistance to survivors. Beyoncé helped raise $44 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017, and most recently in 2021 Billie Eilish got the fashion brand Oscar de la Renta to go fur-free after years of advocating against animal cruelty.
The list of celebrity female activism could be an entire novel, but to emphasize their impact in just an article, a spotlight must be shone on the accomplishments of one of the most influential women in recent years, Dolly Parton. In 1988 Dolly founded The Dollywood Foundation and the Buddy Program to help decrease high school dropout rates in her home county, Sevier County, Tennessee. To help the conservation of bald eagles, in 1991 she founded the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood. The Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library started in 1995, sending one book per month to each child in Sevier County from birth until their first year in school. Using her fame, Parton then held a 2007 benefit concert for a new Sevier County hospital and a 2016 telethon for the East Tennessee wildfires. Also, in 2016 she launched the My People Fund for families devastated amid natural disasters and the Special Merit Scholarship. She then gave a $1 million dollar donation to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, donated $1 million to fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and raised $700,000 for victims of flooding in Middle Tennessee. Most recently, she started covering 100% of tuition, fees and books for Dollywood employees to further their education.
The compassion behind these women is the story of the century. Their unending philanthropy has made a big difference in many people’s lives, far outweighing the importance of the gossip placed on them by “news” sources. Changing the world for the better starts by focusing less on the hate in the world and more on the good deeds being overlooked. This list is simply to prove that there is more behind the pile of articles discussing celebrity women’s bodies and personal lives. Anyone with social media should challenge themselves to ignore all the negativity that is attracting their senses and try to find articles about the positive contributions being made.
Alden Wiygul currently serves as a contributing writer. She is a senior double majoring in psychology and criminal justice. Originally from Columbus, Mississippi, she loves to read, write, crochet, and knit. She is looking forward to writing for Alice and hopes to bring more female voices into male-dominated conversations.