How Amy Winehouse’s Honesty Helped Make Me Stronger
Today is Amy Winehouse’s birthday. Although I grew up listening to her music, it wasn’t until my teen years that I really started admiring Amy Winehouse as a person. She had this edgy look, always appearing fierce with her pin-up/rockabilly styled clothing and thick eyeliner, yet her songs showed how human and vulnerable she was, just like everyone else. Her songs were jazzy, while still labelled as pop, but her message was so different from anyone else at that time. She wanted her music to show her defiance and rebellion, as well as her broken heart and genuine emotions. As a teenager, listening to her meant everything; she showed me that any person can experience these same struggles. She was a role model in her own way; by providing comfort in her music to people dealing with countless problems, people who felt they were alone but who were really just silently facing the same issues as so many others. She showed us that you could be this strong and cutthroat person who is just as vulnerable as any other.
Amy Winehouse wasn’t secretive about her bisexuality; as an artist she made a point to be very open to her fans about who she was. Amy Winehouse was the first woman I had heard use the word bisexual. She wasn’t afraid of what people thought of her, and she refused to tiptoe around the label. She was unapologetic and sincere in her sexuality. She was proud of who she was capable of loving. She didn’t let stereotypes get in her way of being herself; she knew exactly who she was and refused to be shamed. To see a famous musician be so clear and open about her bisexuality made a big impact on me. Amy Winehouse was genuine in her character and provided a lot of answers to those unsure by embracing the label of bisexual. It was in large part due to her unapologetic and proud example, that I came to understand and accept my own sexuality.
I remember learning more and more about this woman who I perceived as so powerful. Even when I learned of her failures, I never judged her for any of her struggles. I would keep up with her life as portrayed by the media. Whatever she went through, she just kept becoming more relatable to her fans. I watched her spiral into drug addiction, and no aspect of her life was censored. This woman was never some picture-perfect celebrity that the media had put on a pedestal for us to bow down to; she was another human being who just happened to be insanely talented. Hearing of her life never left me feeling insecure or inadequate. Instead, her honesty and forwardness gave me relief, a welcome respite from the fake world of pop culture.
Amy Winehouse was a celebrity that wasn’t pushed into some false ideal of perfection. She was troubled in many ways and expressed her problems through her music. When you listened to her songs, you knew they were authentic and true to her as a person. Not some faux-persona that the media was trying to sell to the public. She was many things: a jewish woman from the UK, a drop-out, a cutter, a drug addict, a musician, an alcoholic, and the woman who paved the way for an entire generation to understand that imperfection only keeps us human.
Amy Winehouse and her music gave us something with which to connect. She made herself an example and encouraged everyone to come as you are. She didn’t make you feel pathetic for struggling, but instead gave us strength: knowing that this fearless warrior of a woman was experiencing the same things anyone else might. She changed the music game for the short time that she was in it, along with the lives of all who listened to her. I’ll forever be grateful to Amy Winehouse for teaching me to accept myself. She wasn’t perfect, but none of us are. She was, though, someone who means a great deal to me.