And Then This Happened…

I know I know- it’s been discussed. But not by me. And to be honest, I’ll never be late with my commentary on this, because this is a moment that stands alone. It’s an image that people will remember later in life, and use when writing posts on the ‘Rihanna brand’. But even more than a ‘moment’ for Rihanna, it inspired a moment to discuss feminism, entertainment, and young women.

With the death of Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee you have to take a second to wonder- where are the positive female role models of today? And, what does it mean to be a positive role model?

After Rihanna’s red carpet moment, TLC released a statement asking Rihanna to put some clothes on. She responded with an image of TLC topless (but covering their nipples), and the internet cheered Rihanna on for pointing out the hypocrisy. But the internet and Rihanna were wrong…

TLC was a brand that stood for female empowerment in the 90s. It taught me (and millions of other girls) girl power and positive self esteem. One of the major topics of the 90s was breast implants. I wanted them… every 12 yr old girl wanted them. TLC posed topless (with their hands covering their nipples) to show that you can be comfortable in your own body without inflating or cutting your body. It was a positive message. And the photo, which is now presented negatively, was actually 100% positive at that point in time.

I started to think a lot about empowerment and what it means to be empowered as a woman. For some it means to be sexual and flaunt sexuality. For others it means to be defined outside of their sexuality. There are other ways to empower young women aside from sexuality. So what it means to be ’empowering’ is hard to define. Everyone will be empowered in different ways at different stages of their own growth and development.

We are too complex as women to have just one standard of who we could be. We should always have various voices and images of women for us to choose from. Unfortunately when it comes to entertainment in 2014, only one voice/image seems to get heard. Instead of bashing that voice, it is important that we groom the next person to have a new perspective so that all of our needs as women can be met.

Female competitiveness is toxic not because it hurts the person you’re throwing shade at (in the midst of diluting your own message). It’s toxic because it fights against the complexity of a woman. (And dare I say that it forces us to take on a male dominated image/voice because we are all fighting among ourselves). We won’t all be one way. We will always be different. One voice isn’t the best. Multiple voices/images/ideas are what will help us grow collectively and as individuals.

Although we all have personal preferences at different stages of our lives, it is important that we don’t pigeon-hole our experience as females.