Anyone that knows me knows that I am a champion for women’s rights. I stand on the shoulders of many women throughout history that have fought and sacrificed for me to have advantages in life. I am a proud woman and a soul survivor. I am a mother of a beautiful daughter that I have taught to stand in her authority and a niece that I pray will walk in her power.
Even with all the feminist blood running through my veins, I found myself confused with the feminist backlash rapper Kendrick Lamar is facing due to his song Humble.
I listened to the song once; then I listened again. I watched the video twice and still I could not find what was causing the problem. So, I pulled up the lyrics to the song so that I could read them slowly and thoroughly, reading in between the lines and dissecting wordplay to see if something was said that would spark this outrage.
The lyrics that are causing such a firestorm are:
I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor
Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks
Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy
Kendrick is a rapper in an industry that is filled with women and the tearing down and rebuilding of women’s bodies. Women in the entertainment industry have an image to uphold that has been highly influenced by what men find sexually desirable. The images that we see have trickled down from the entertainment industry and found its way onto “Main Street, USA,” where the average woman is expected to look like a supermodel. The news is filled with reports of women that have sacrificed their very lives going to back alley doctors to attain an image that is portrayed in the entertainment field.
We have seen female rappers adorn butt implants and become overnight sensations. We watched an unknown woman rise to become one of the most known and wealthy celebrities in the world on the wave of a sex tape. We watched a reality TV star swing from a shower curtain and become an internet legend. We have watched pregnant movie stars fight to get back into shape just two weeks after giving birth. Everything about being a woman in the entertainment industry is focused on image. And the buck no longer stops with those in the entertainment field. With the rise of social media, it seems everyone is clawing to become an Instagram model, the next “it” girl and many times, all it requires is that you possess a look that is often only achievable through plastic surgery.
Yet, we ridicule Lil Kim for not embracing her natural beauty. We make sure to point out that Nicki’s infamous derriere is not natural. We mock those with weave and tell them to embrace their natural hair. We tell men to love us for who we are and not what we look like. Love our natural hair. Love our lips. Love our skin tone. Love Black women as we are.
And then Kendrick says just that, and it is a problem? I thought about some of the songs that many women have embraced as women, primarily the entire Lemonade catalog. I thought of Formation when Beyonce boldly declares, “I like my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.” She clearly has a preference, and her preference is for her mate to not have plastic surgery but to have his naturally given, wide-set nose which is a common trait in many African Americans. We celebrated Beyonce for embracing the fact that as a Black woman she loved her man just the way he was born. I am unsure why this is different.
We celebrate actresses telling magazines not to Photoshop their covers and we rejoice as celebrities like John Legend embraces and loves his wife, Chrissy Teigen even as she flashes her stretch marks. We stand up for Alicia Keys when she decides to reject industry standards and forego makeup. We feel a sense of pride when Serena Williams embraces the curves and strength of her body. So, I find myself confused. Kendrick is saying that he appreciates a woman in her natural state and not that she has to be in her natural state but in his industry, he is tired of seeing women that look as if they came off a Photoshopped, filtered assembly line. And not only does he appreciate her in a natural state, but he also finds her sexually attractive in her natural state. In a world that attempts many times to reject the sexual desirability of Black women and make White women the standard for anything that is sexually desirable, I enjoyed hearing this celebrated.
We are women. We are not all supermodels. We don’t wake up looking perfect. Every photo we take will not be in the perfect light. Some of us live beyond the filters. We have stretch marks. We gave birth to beautiful blessings that altered our bodies in ways we never imagined. We have edges that are kinky. And for many of us you will never be able to run your fingers through our fros. Some of us don’t have a six-pack and perfectly arched eyebrows. We have scars. Our breasts are not always perky. And our asses have stretch marks. And with all that we are still amazingly beautiful and sexy. If you can see me beyond what society says I should be and just love me for who I am, flaws and all, I welcome it.
As women, we have many battles to fight. Just this week, Kentucky attempted to close its only abortion clinic which would have robbed many women of their right to choose. We struggle for equality in the workplace. We fight to have the right just to be. There are many battles to fight and I pick mine wisely. Fighting a Black man that attempts in his way to celebrate Black women in their natural state is not a fight I am willing to pick. Some battles are not mine to fight.