By Cara Eagen and Pia Shah-Pankiewicz
Since the beginning of time, and up until recently, women have been considered the property of their husband; their only job was to clean the house and have children. On August 18, 1920, when women in America were granted the right to vote, it was a beacon of hope for not only American women, but also for women around the world. Since the passing of the 19th Amendment, women have made great strides in ensuring gender equality. Although this goal has not been fully achieved, we have certainly made progress.
However, a new issue has recently been unearthed: It is fairly hard to live in this day and age and not compare yourself to what you see in magazines or music videos. Women and men constantly feel that they need to change their image in order to conform to what others believe is beautiful. The popular song and music video titled Anaconda by Nicki Minaj has created an incredible amount of controversy surrounding this topic. Minaj believes that her video is attempting to empower women to love themselves and their shape. Minaj intended it as a message for full figured women who have felt oppressed by society’s message that women should have a thigh gap, a flat stomach, a small butt and much more. Minaj is trying to change this norm and show how feeling beautiful with a thicker body is possible.
Her intentions were sound but that is not the way it came across in the chorus of the song, as well as in the music video. Minaj states in her song “This one is for my b***es with a fat a** in the f***ing club.” This might seem shocking at first, but it is also empowering. She calls out for full figured women to join her and not be afraid to be confident. It doesn’t put others down, and makes women with a larger shape feel proud. But, Minaj later goes wayward, rapping, “F**k those skinny b****es”, shaming skinny women in an attempt to raise the self esteem of larger ones. Although this encourages full figured women to feel good about themselves, it is at the expense of more slender women. When the oppressed oppress the oppressors, it still isn’t right. Someone is still being oppressed, which is why we need all women to feel good about themselves. We need songs that promote loving yourself whether you have a big butt or a small butt, big boobs or small boobs, a pear shaped body or a stick shaped body. Nicki Minaj had created a divide between women, making some feel beautiful and others feel unattractive. This song does not unite women, nor does it change the stigma that there is only one way to look beautiful. Where is the message showing women that we are all beautiful?
Another problematic lyric in Anaconda is: “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun.” This line completely hands the power to the man, saying unless you meet my requirements, I’m not interested. It is not only degrading, but it shuts down the progress we, as women, have made. It is stating that it is okay for men to objectify and only choose women who satisfy their “requirements.” We have been trying to abolish the view of women as sexual toys, and song lyrics like these set us back even farther.
Ultimately, while Minaj’s intention may have been well-placed, her execution in Anaconda is problematic. Oppressing the oppressors in order to stop oppression is simply ineffective and detrimental to the cause. Instead, let’s empower all women so that we may achieve the gender equality that women who fought for the 19th amendment once envisioned.