The Aftermath of Photos like Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” Cover Art

Screenshot 2014-07-24 at 12.03.58 PMAs soon as I saw the cover art for rapper Nicki Minaj’s single “Anaconda”, I immediately begun shaking my head side to side and just thinking, “here we go again”. Why do female artists insist on doing this? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy???

Not only did it seem like a throwback to Lil’ Kim’s Hardcore days in 1996, I just knew what this would mean for a girl growing up in the social media age and even for the rest of us that are older to know better.

I’m constantly confused when female artists like Minaj make comments here or there about how they want their female fans to be bosses and make their own rules and a lot of comments like that just doesn’t seem to matter or lose merit when photos like the one for “Anaconda” come out. It seems highly contradictory and obvious. I’ll be honest though. I didn’t label her as a “slut” or “slore” when I saw the photo. I was just disappointed because I knew what would follow. You see, there’s kind of a big problem online in which many insecure women, when they see photos like this, it supports their belief that this is what guys respond to, and only respond to. So they create their own mini photo shoot in the bathroom or bedroom of where they live, try their best to mimic a pose similar to Minaj’s for “Anaconda” or anything that is meant to titillate and then proceed to upload them to Instagram and Twitter, and sometimes Facebook. These are the same girls that get upset that guys only “follow” or #WCW women that take photos like these all the time, but then join the seedy movement for the same kind of attention they just dispelled as uncool. Some women have even gone as far as getting butt facials so when they chose to take pictures in which their posterior are front and center, it’ll look much better. #JesusTakeTheWheel

Concerning Nicki Minaj, I really don’t think she needs to do these kind of photos anymore. I for one really respect her success story and yes, it can be inspiring, but doesn’t it become difficult to promote imagery like this and but you were just on HSN selling your exclusive perfume to the Barbz, and then hear from a mother that was buying it for her teenage daughter that she’s a huge fan and crawled out of her shell because of her? I never quite understood how female artists in particular like Beyonce, Britney Spears, and Rihanna, and even reality TV star Kim Kardashian, could balance both. Is it possible to be a sexpot and also an innocent influencer?

When issues like this arise with women in music combining sex and power, the one and only Madonna always, always comes up because despite the harsh criticism she received during her Erotica era, she still remains the only female artist that amalgamated being salacious with smarts and it challenged and intimidated the public’s notion of why a woman can’t be sexy and in charge at the same time.  Does Minaj convey this in the cover art for “Anaconda”?

I also believes that it helps that Madonna never really had a massive young following in how her successors have. Her greatest fans were there from the beginning or at least grew up with her as the soundtrack. Minaj and even Rihanna don’t necessarily have this. With each album they release, yes, they have the fans that were there for the last, but surprisingly, the age group of their admirers gets lower in brackets. It wouldn’t be hard to find a ten-year-old that knows the words to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” which likely means she’s also come across other Rihanna songs and pictures that were not as unsullied.

In reality, Minaj and company are grown women and they are allowed to do what they want. It is the aftermath for the rest of us as their audience in which things can get interesting. Another factor of what occurs when photos like “Anaconda” appear is the reaction from men, and in this case, black men.

Wanting the approval or validation from black men is a succeeding component to the mess of this Instagram model era. Perpetuated by the aforementioned photo, black men put an unnecessary pressure on women of color to behave and dress just how Minaj looks for “Anaconda” or when said celebrities take recyclable “sexy” photos. This is why when you go the club or even a lounge these days, every other girl is wearing a bodycon dress. This is why even when a young women would prefer have attracted someone by her aura or sense of being someone special or worthy of knowing, she feels she has to reel him in first with lascivious ensembles or actions. Men are partially the reason behind the plastic surgery phenomenon of women getting butt implants or shots, and sometimes doing do illegally. Women want their approval in such desperate terms, it all boils down to being store-bought sexuality. It isn’t real. It feels fraud-ish. It feels really obvious. What exactly have these men been doing to attract us while they demand and expect a supply of unrealistic standards or in that accepting that all women’s bodies are the same? I always wonder if white women have this problem too? A white guy will date and marry a girl with almost no hourglass frame and doesn’t care. For a lot of black men however, with their demands of bigger and bigger, black women or women of color are expected to appease to their sexual desires.

You might recall a few months ago after what seemed to be days of female celebrities walking around town with no bras underneath their shirts, and then of course leaving more than a few buttons unbuttoned, actress Rashida Jones posted some scathing commentary on Twitter about it. It led to some criticism of her being anti-female friendly but it did lead to her gaining a regular Glamour magazine column discussing similar topics.

Screenshot 2014-07-24 at 11.48.08 AM

When are we gonna see men doing this, hmmmm? I’m begging the industry. When are the male hotties gonna show off the imprint of their Johnson a la the Rolling Stones’ cover of Sticky Fingers? Or take more photos akin to Mark Wahlberg when he was a Calvin Klein model? When is that movement coming around? While the occasional R&B singer does resort to the sex sells approach, I’m sure we’re still gonna have to wait a long time to see a Miguel, Frank Ocean, or Luke James dripping wet in the middle of nowhere in promotion for their music. Why are the female artists still doing this?

I understand the double standard aspect that may come from asking that, but I find it odd that a woman who just boasted about running the game for 5 years then releases a photo like this. I think most of us would expect this from someone just starting out, eager for any recognition, good or bad. Not from someone who actually has been Grammy nominated and now looks prime for a cover of Smooth or worse…(and they are worse).

Likely the song is about sex, and if it’s not we’ll all be highly surprised, which would harken to why I suppose the photo exists in the first place, but it’s unnecessary. Some posts ago, Fader magazine did a feature about how the talented artist Sia (who’s like the new Linda Perry in her current wave of co-writing some of Billboard’s biggest charters) and how in promotion of her latest LP 1,000 Forms of Fear, she has virtually disappeared. Literally. She was not in the video for “Chandelier” and any live performances of her songs do not feature her on stage. Fader reported that Sia’s lack of appearance was in response to the overexposure of female artists.

So while Nicki Minaj achieved her goal of #ThirstyThursdays, what are the legacies of photos of like these?

2 responses to “The Aftermath of Photos like Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” Cover Art”

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