I clapped for Rihanna back when she checked the world and reminded them she's nobody's role model--she's simply living her damn life. It was real then and it's real now, specified at those who unduly ask celebrities to conform for the sole purpose of parenting the children of the world.
In the words of a wise internet person (who, that I'm unsure): f*ck them kids.
All jokes aside, the world tends to want their role models to fit the stiff stature of a homogenous society while some of the best role models have been anything but "socially acceptable". Despite acknowledging that "well-behaved women seldom make history" and having zero regard for the miserable lives we would ask celebrities to subscribe to under the guise of being a so-called-"good" role models.
Because being a good role model in our world means not living a life worth living -- it means ridiculously asking that celebrities be flawless at all times even when they're young and most deserving of that learning curve and the grace we grant to the rest of our youth as we learn to fly.
We ask that people live a facade and feign shock when we find out that a celebrity has overdosed after years of closeted addicition, or government officials are exposed for their closeted kinks and sexual preferences amongst other things. I have to wonder if any of these things would be so salacious and jaw-dropping if we just let people live in their truths to begin with. Well, at least those whose truth do no tangible harm to others.
All any of us can do is our best, and for many of these stars (well before insta-fame), the goal was to simply thrive and be able to take care of their families using their talent. This shouldn't mean that they have to sacrifice an authentic journey. We often hear stars cite "the pressure" as the root cause of drug addiction; and WE HAVE TO KNOW, in part, that pressure comes from a fanbase and media outlets that demand that they uphold an image of innocence that is unrealistic and not at all true of any human being walking this earth.
And I know without a doubt that this standard is always far more impossible for women than men--providing little to no leniency for those moments we deem uncouth and immoral when it comes to women. How do I know? Well, one word: patriarchy! And history has taught us that it is a woman's role to maintain purity while it is a man's role to cause sexual upheaval as he sees fit...and, of course, be providers.
With that in mind, I encourage us to embrace the importance of having role models who are confident, raunchy, sexy, independent, experimental, and most of all: living.
If we were only ever given the Lauryn Hills and the Beyonces of the world, then we would continue to uphold a patriarchal standard of purity and wouldn't have the true versatility necessary to bust down the glass ceiling we so desire to have removed.
Nasty women don't just live in the arenas of the politico. Many of us like to quote and post vintage photos of the sultry pastimes that walked so we could run during this and every other hot girl summer to come.
Yet, somehow, we still manage to ignore the one thing that made them stand out during their time: reckless disregard for the rules of sexuality and gender norms. It's not lady-like for women to hang with the big dogs and many of the most historical women made history by doing so in a multitude of ways and sometimes they weren't the best choices; but it is our poor choices that we learn the most from.
Legends like the "Queen Bee" Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Trina, Foxy Brown, and those that predate them like Eartha Kitt, Josephine Baker, and Lena Horne -- none of them followed the rules regarding what it meant to be a woman in this world.
And had they not broken the rules, can we genuinely say we'd love them the way they do?
I say all of this to say, please please stop pushing the narrative that we solely need more Lauryn Hills in this world when the reality is, we could use any woman who changes the narrow-minded expectations of how we as women should move through this world.
Stop negating the empowerment behind the lyrics of musical artists because you would prefer that your kids only be exposed to music that promotes a lifetime of missionary and under-the-radar-living. As I've said many times before, having a well-rounded personality includes all the moving parts of self, including an autonomous sexuality and sense of independence. And in truth, many of us will never reach a full sense of independence because we're too dependent on the views of society and being socially abiding citizens.
Personally, Rihanna (if you hadn't guessed by now) and Megan Thee Stallion have proven to be some of the women I stan for the most and it's because I can relate to them in a very holistic way. Rih took music to the next level, exploring topics mainstream woman musicians hadn't touched, has never been one to feign perfection, and has created a Fenty fucking empire. While Megan has made efforts to collaborate with fans to clean up the environment, attends college, and is a self-proclaimed "big ole freak." And we're asking that young girls not idolize them why again?
It's nothing more than fear of those things we can't understand, such as how a woman can be a woman without subscribing to the construct of lady-like-ness. We bop to the beat of male artists exploiting us and then scoff when women take back that power and make a bag. It makes zero sense. Celebrities and particularly badass women won't always be the hero or idol we want but nine times out of ten they will be the heroes and idols that we need.
At least, if we have any hope of raising sexually liberated and truly independent thinking women.