We look at ten of the most iconic women in modern day pop culture across television, the dazzling lights of Hollywood, the art world, sport, fashion, music and literature.
Film – Marilyn Monroe
Bombshell, sex goddess, lost soul – you can’t have a list of iconic women without Marilyn, the Hollywood sweetheart whose death is still the fodder of conspiracy theorists. Norma Jean is surrounded by legend, the affair with an American president and his brother, her links to the mafia, her addiction to prescription drugs and her questionable suicide. She has been remembered through countless films, biopics and immortalised in the artworks of Andy Warhol.
Fashion – Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell set herself as one of the three most recognised fashion models of the 1980s and early 1990s. For all her accomplishments she is best remembered for her temper, cocaine addiction, assault charges and resulting community service completed whilst decked out in couture. Most famous of all was her catwalk fall from her 10 inch heels at a Vivienne Westwood show in Paris, which of course she dealt with in the most appropriate manner – with fits of laughter. For all these misgivings she is involved with several charitable causes and is an outspoken activist against racism in the fashion industry, recently stating ‘The American president may be black, but as a black woman, I am still an exception in this business. I always have to work harder to be treated equally.’ Love her or hate her, she is one of the fashion world’s most iconic women.
Music – Madonna
Madonna, remembered mostly for her pointed bra’s, outrageous costumes and kitsch films of the 80′s, she is recognized as the world’s top selling female recording artist. Think about it, how many of her songs can you name? 5, 10, 15, maybe 20? As for her movies, who hasn’t seen ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’, ‘Who’s That Girl?’ or avoided ‘Swept Away’ (Guy Ritchie what were you thinking?).
Art – Frida Kahlo
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is best known for her revealing self-portraits, her work is celebrated in Mexico as symbolic of national tradition. She lived a turbulent life, beginning with health problems that started at age six when she contracted polio. Her personal life was also problematic, mainly due to her troubled marriage to fellow artist Diego Rivera. Both artists were active communists who became friends with Leon Trotsky who lived with them during his asylum in Mexico resulting in an affair between Kahlo and the Marxist revolutionary. Recently she gained additional attention through the movie ‘Frida’ where she was portrayed by Selma Hayak, and who can complain about that!
Celebrity – Angelina Jolie
She is Hollywood’s most highly paid actress with a string of awards under her arm and scored Brad Pitt, what can’t this woman do? Oh and did I mention she has six children and has been named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador?
TV – Oprah Winfrey
There’s not much here I can write that you wouldn’t already know. Oprah, iconic for her long running self-titled show, has been ranked the richest African American of the twentieth Century. She has appeared and even starred in a number of movies, including the Steven Spielberg film ‘The Colour Purple’. Her influence in America is so great that her endorsement will sell out books and anything else she put her name to. From 2006 to 2008 her support of Barack Obama resulted in over a million additional votes.
Famous for being famous – Paris Hilton
Whilst her initial rise to fame may not have been for the most reputable reasons she has built an empire and fortune in her own right. Initially famous for being a Hilton, Paris is a socialite with her own perfume line, fashion line, television shows, numerous movie credits, books and is a singer and producer. As of 2012 her net worth is estimated to be $100 million. That’s hot.
Reality TV – Susan Boyle
Iconic of a new era – reality TV. With her brilliant reindition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ juxtaposed against her plain appearance she gained a standing ovation. Boyle’s first album, released in 2009, was the number one best selling on charts around the world. In her first year of fame Boyle earned £5 million and her success continued with her second and third albums.
Sport – Serena Williams
Former world number one Serena Williams is a sporting icon with 27 grand slam titles and two Olympic gold medals. She has won more prize money then any other female athlete in history and was the first woman, along with her sister Venus to hold all four grand slam doubles titles simultaneously since Martina Hingis in 1998, that’s pretty impressive!
Literature – J .K. Rowling
Best known for her Harry Potter book series, J. K. Rowling has gained international success, won many awards and sold over 400 million copies of the books. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’ and supports many charities including Comic Relief, Multiple Sclerosis of Great Britain and One Parent Families.
Agree, disagree or think we’ve missed someone? Let us know in the comments below.