Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Our society has become increasingly impressionable and dominated by pop-culture. With the mandatory camera feature on the basic of cell phones, anyone and everyone has the potential of becoming famous or infamous.
I finally had the opportunity to actually listen to Rihanna’s latest hit, “Bitch Better Have My Money.” I had previously heard about it and how some were taken aback by how this attractive pop princess was so vulgarly forward in declaring that a bitch better have her money; futher demanding, “pay me what you owe me!” After hearing the track myself, namely the familar refrain repeated thereby summarizing the infantile point, all I could manage was “Wow!” I was unimpressed and unamused. I was futher taken aback when I saw her dressed somewhat like a lady when she recently attended the iconic NYFW. Relevant sidebar: Rihanna also happens to be the first woman of color or “the face” or the legendary fashion house of Dior. I couldn’t help but find a glaring dichotomy.
In an effort of full disclosure, I’ve never attended a NYFW show that Rihanna also attended, therefore all I have as a frame of reference are the ethereal-like poses on behalf of the Bajan Princess. I couldn’t help but synically wonder whether while sitting next to Anna Wintour or Raf Simons, artistic director for Christian Dior, would she dare proclaim “bitch better have my money?” It is doubtful that she does or would. It’s unbelievable how she and Nicki Minaj appear to be auditioning to become members of the Royal Family when attending NYFW shows or the Met Gala. There is a 180 degree difference in those personas, versus their BET or MTV personas or performances. Amazingly, Nicki manages to cover up her “anaconda” for fashion but keeps it borderline ratchet for the music industry. Why?
To be clear, I am only using Rihanna and Nicki as references however you can throw Beyoncé and Kim K. among the other walking contradictions. These women are clear about their images and are skilled on how to appeal to multi-cultural and global audiences. It’s a new form of code-switching; where one behaves, speaks and mimics the views, vernacular and behavior of which ever group he or she is around. I completely understand and I get it, Ladies!
I also have no issue with these women building their brands, securing lucrative endorsements, magazine covers, movie roles or whatever blows their hair/wigs back. Hollywood is fickle and every celebrity has a shelf life. It makes good business sense (and cents) to both leverage and capitalize on one’s celebrity or fame…Everyone else is.
The only issue is us…the general public. The young girls who idolize these caricatures will instead of striving to pay to attend college, they are saving up for plastic surgery to secure a derrière like Nicki or Kim. Women are buying makeup, hair extensions and whatever else to “look” like our Instagram Sheros instead of saving up to purchase a home and/or fund her retirement plans. Adult women are walking around surgically enhanced bodies and features inspired by Beyoncé, but these women do not live or likely will never live any semblance of her life or career. Beyoncé takes a picture, she gets paid. We take pictures and if we’re lucky, we’ll get a handful of “Likes” or “Girl, you better work” appraisals from friends and family on our social media sites.
I’m not against plastic surgery. I absolutely intend on pursuing this option one day to assess whether this is the right choice for me. Plastic surgery is an individual and personal decision of which I have no shade or judgement about. I am challenging the mindset or notion that “regular” women and girls are not good enough the way that they are and for who they (we) are. I dislike that stereotypical urban behavior is simulated by Hollywood and played out in real life. A case in point, the most misogynistic rapper or artist makes millions promoting a lifestyle of promiscuity and easy come, easy go sexual conquests. In reality, this artist or rapper leaves the studio and is going home to his wife (to whom he is devoted & faithful to) and their three kids. Never mind that his chart topping hit is rife with the polar opposite. And what’s dangerous and right or wrong, this song influences countless unsuspecting and ignorant admirers and fans who live by this artist’s staged life or fantasy.
Nicki, Beyoncé and Rihanna gyrate half-naked on a closed set or sound stage with an army of security personnel carefully watching over them. Once the video director yells “cut”, some intern or personal assistant is hot-tailing to their honor and rescue with a robe. Yet, their music manages to encourage us ladies to eagerly mimic these provocative moves in the club. The only difference is that there are no guards or security to escort us onto the Subway, to our car or front door after we “put on quite a show.” Beyoncé swerves on her surf board in one setting and is photographed on vacation with her husband and young daughter; thereby illustrating that she is a multi-dimensional person. The average person (especially a woman) would not be afforded the same opportunity or dare I say courtesy.
Which brings me to my final point. Appreciate the art as well as the artists who makes the art. It is absolutely admirable that we have men and women who have become millionaires for taking great risks to live their dreams. Such great risks deserve exponential rewards and I am genuinely happy for these individuals. I am encouraged to be as bold and fearlesss. I also make no mistake that this is a show and they have publicists who magically make negative publicity go away; they have attorneys and law firms to protect their interests; they have an army of stylists, makeup, hair, nails, facialists, personal trainers, chefs, assistants, and an entourage to make them appear flawless. Rather than allowing them to encourage us to walk around in real life half-naked, confrontational, hyper-sexual and violent, why not find a way to capitalize on our own unique greatness?
It is cool to hang out in the shadows…literally and figuratively. Allow me to also offer that living in your own God-given ray of light is far more attractive, powerful and self-fulfilling for the soul. Yours.