Since arriving on the scene with her appearance on Love and Hip Hop, rapper Cardi B has been a dominating female figure in media. Over the past few months she has been one of the most, if not the most talked about emcees. She has made Billboard history as a solo artist reaching number 1 in almost 20 years, and her song “Bodak Yellow” is the longest running hit from a solo female rapper in Hot 100 history. In addition to this she racked up multiple wins at the BET awards. With all the attention she’s been getting, she continues to stay true to herself, voicing her opinions on social media and in interviews about sexuality, misogyny, her past and more.
Its no secret Cardi B had a difficult past, having to strip as a young lady in the Bronx faced with unfortunate circumstances. However she’s been anything but silent about her life, and talks about it regularly. On social media Cardi B speak out openly about body image regarding plastic surgery, politics and stripping. However due to her unconventional ways of addressing these subjects, she has gotten both positive and negative responses. Regardless of the delivery, it seems she is making it more widely acceptable to have these subjects. Perhaps simultaneously changing the way we view particular lifestyles.
“The things I talk about on my Instagram are things I practically finished talking to my friends about 15 minutes ago. Like, ‘Yo, you know how I feel about this shit?’ It’s something that’s natural to me. I really don’t care… At the end of the day, before I was an artist I was a human being who paid attention to society.” (Dazed interview, 2016)
Cardi B has talked about her past as a stripper in many interviews, not sugar coating any of the details. She even mentions it in many of her rap lyrics, including her hit song Bodak Yellow.
In an interview last year with VladTV, she spoke about what made her turn to stripping as a young lady.
“I was poor as hell. I was living with my ex boyfriend that was beating my ass, I had to drop out of school… it was crazy”
By being so open about stripping, in a way she is bringing normality to the subject, in terms of why some girls turn to dancing, what it does to their confidence, and the business itself. It goes without saying, but no one grows up with ambitions to be a stripper. Although Cardi B credits stripping to saving her life, she does not recommended it as an option to any of her followers. She has said she regrets having work done to her butt, however in the same breath criticises women who body shame others for having cosmetic surgery. In a more recent interview with VladTV, Cardi B speaks more in depth about her experiences as a stripper, how it negatively effected her self-esteem and being in an environment full of discrimination.
“Sometimes it makes you feel like damn your not even good enough. And then when I went to the urban clubs … started to feel like damn I’m not thick enough… it makes you feel like your self esteem always goes down.”
Before becoming a well known rapper with a hit record, Cardi B was mostly known for her presence on social media. If you followed her on Instagram you would see her in a video either having fun with her family or speaking her mind. Not much has changed. She talks frequently about body shaming and how women should be able do what they want to their body and not worry about what others have to say.
Without meaning to, through her honesty, Cardi B has made it okay to not be as ladylike as society would want you to be. For example she has had many moments on the show Love and HipHop where she’s defended not only herself, but other women when she feels they are being body shamed or discriminated. In fact, Genius posted a video to their youtube listing women in the music industry that are “winning” for their unladylike behaviour. Sza, Princess Nokia and Rihanna were a few names on that list.
Other female celebrities like Amber Rose, who was also once a stripper, is standing up for female empowerment and sexuality with her annual Slut Walk. She’s been a guest on shows like The Real and It’s Not You, Its Men, speaking about body positivity and a women’s right to wear what she wants without fearing being labelled a “slut”.
Top rap legends like Eve and Trina have opened up about their past as strippers as well, however this was only later in their careers. Cardi B neither glorifies or dismisses stripping, and most importantly she doesn’t discriminate.
Vice recently featured Snapchat stories regarding strippers, where they attempted to shed some light on their lives as dancers. They asked questions about the does and don’ts, etiquette and more. News outlets and magazines like The Mirror and Cosmopolitan have reported on stripping before, so its not a new subject. But it’s never been so widely discussed in mainstream pop culture.
Cardi B’s upfront nature and honesty makes her more relatable to the average girl, which puts her in a position of influence and power. Her wildness and funny attitude makes her seem like a friend we went to high school with. Her posts on social media with her bare faced and messy hair dancing with her grandmother might remind you of how you act around your own family. Even her way of speaking with broken english may have an effect on her relatability. All of these combines characteristics not only makes you like her as an artist but also as a person thats being honest with everything they are saying. And thats powerful. As she’s been saying from the jump, she’s just a regular degular shmegular girl from the Bronx, and it makes her iconic.