It Is Not as Simple as Black and White
Hello again dear blog readers. I apologize for my absence; I have been busy these past couple months taking my dad to gay bars in Ireland, eating my body weight in graduation cookies, and generally working hard on hardly working (more to come on that later). But anyways, I am back now. And I am sad that it has taken the recent Twitter “fight” between Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift to bring me back, but I fell pushed to action. So I bring you this: my first blog in months featuring the seemingly ever-present issues of racism and body shaming.
I am sure most of you have heard by now about the Twitter exchange between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj regarding Nicki’s lack of nomination for MTV’s Video of the Year Award for “Anaconda.” If not, or for a refresher, find a link to the tweets below.
I have read numerous articles on this subject, and I know at this point Taylor has tweeted an apology which Nicki accepted, but I still feel that this subject cannot simply be dropped.
I first found out about this Twitter “fight” when my friend posted an article on Facebook about the subject, an article partially titled “Don’t play the race or skinny card Ms. Minaj.” This article was written by Piers Morgan, the journalist and pretentious former judge on “America’s Got Talent”.
Now to be clear, I do not have a problem with people expressing differing opinions from mine on Facebook. But this is not a matter of opinion. Some of my friends support their casually racist and sometimes sexist views by saying “It’s just my opinion, and I’m entitled to it.” True, you are entitled to an opinion, but racism and body shaming are not subjects to have an opinion over. That is stupidity, not an opinion. Racism and body shaming are wrong, period. And if you are going to post an article, regardless of your “opinion”, maybe make sure it is valid before posting it. For example, maybe do not post an article dissing Nicki Minaj written by a British, upper-class white male with a personal grudge against Minaj and nowhere near the amount of experience in the music industry to be qualified enough to speak on how it operates.
Second of all, this article mostly focuses on what Morgan thinks should be the definition of a successful, winning artist. He claims that because Nicki scowled on “America’s Got Talent” that basically means she is a bitch. Yeah, it was rude of her to refuse autographs to his kids, but does that mean she is a bad musician who does not deserve to be nominated for video of the year? Does that mean the music industry still does not contain bias? Absolutely not.
Honestly, I am not a fan of Nicki Minaj much myself. But that does not mean I do not think she deserved a nomination. Her video was controversial and widely talked about. Although the qualifications to be nominated are not clearly outlined, it certainly seems that she had what it took to be nominated based off videos that won in the past.
My friend who posted the article continued to argue with me and went on to call Minaj disgusting and ignorant because she body shames girls. I responded with the fact that her music video for “Anaconda” puts women front and center in the music video parody, when the original video just had women in the background as objects. God forbid a woman makes a statement with her ass out.
There is nothing wrong with a woman of any color loving her curves, just as there is nothing wrong with skinny women of any color loving their bodies. But guess what? There have been numerous examples of thin, white women portrayed as perfection in art and music, and society’s standard definition of beauty is overwhelming still seen as a skinny, cheerful white woman.
I acknowledge that Nicki herself is body shaming skinny women, with lyrics such as “fu*k the skinny bitches”. But to me, that is just like white people’s response to “black lives matter” by saying white lives matter and all lives matter. No shit all lives matter (well, unless we are talking about a psycho rapist killer puppy hater). But white people have not been oppressed in this country for hundreds of years. More black people are wrongfully killed and arrested than white people. So stop trying to make this about white lives mattering too because that just takes attention away from the bigger issue at hand.
Similarly, the body shaming of skinny, white girls should not be as big of a focus because it has not been going on nearly as long as body shaming “sluts” and “fat girls”. Yes, Minaj says “fu*k the skinny bitches”, a line which body shames, but at the same time let us acknowledge her right to be upset. For years America has largely portrayed black women with curves as slutty and raunchy. Scowls and attitudes were not acceptable on women. Minaj challenges this system.
You have to understand her frustration when it has mostly been white, skinny women recognized for their beauty and talent. Yeah, there is Beyoncé and a ton of other talented black female artists who do not get nearly enough recognition, but I lose count of all the Miley Cyruses and Taylor Swifts and Selena Gomezs and other skinny white or white looking girls who win music awards. I am sure it is beyond annoying when people just slut shame you for your body type and do not take you seriously because you are in a certain provocative pose, a pose that would not be seen as nearly as “provocative” if a white, skinny woman assumed the same position.
I am not saying this makes it right for Minaj to body shame, but curvy black women have been shamed far, far longer than skinny white women. So it is understandable that she feels frustration. Skinny white girls can complain about being body shamed when normal sized 6 women are no longer considered plus size in the modeling industry. Because that is a problem, and has been for quite some time. But right now, it is still largely feisty, curvy black women who are body shamed by the media, modeling and music industries, and society in general, both directly and indirectly. Maybe once that finally stops, artists like Nicki Minaj will not feel as frustrated, and we can all hopefully move to stop body shaming women of all races and sizes.