MadameNoire Featured Video


In this edition of “When White people do it…”

We have Joe Jonas and Ashley Graham.

Who are they?

Well Joe Jonas is a former member of the group The Jonas Brothers who is now in a new band called DNCE. And Ashley Graham is a plus-sized supermodel who has been getting a lot of play in the media as of late. Together the two starred opposite of each other in Jonas’ hot and steamy music video for his single, “Toothbrush.”

You can watch the video above.

I know: real cute, right?

Well, according to mainstream media, this pairing is beyond cute. It’s actually revolutionary. Or as Jamie Feldman, Lifestyle Editor for the Huffington Post writes:

“There’s nothing groundbreaking about casting a model as the love interest in a music video. What is new, however, is when that model is plus-size media phenomenon Ashley Graham.”

Um, that ain’t new.

In fact, Hip Hop and R&B artists have been featuring plus size, or as we like to call them “thick,” women as love interests in their songs and videos since the Commodores were funking it up with “Brickhouse.”

No seriously, remember when De La Soul told us that our love handles weren’t nothing but a little Baby Phat?

And remember when Anthony Hamilton gave us Sister Big Bones and had a then-more plus sized Mo’Nique all up in the video?

And remember when Redman rapped, “I love a fat chick, with a body enormous. It ain’t about the weight yo it’s how they performin” in Part II and then turned around and dedicated an entire song to his love of “Big Girlz?”

And remember in Nicki Minaj’s Only when Drake said, “She says I’m obsessed with thick women and I agree. That’s right, I like my girls BBW…”

And remember when two months ago, Trinidad James, Mystikal & Lil Dicky did the song “Just a Lil Thick (She Juicy).” Okay granted, nobody remembers that song. But it still existed. That’s the point.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you can’t deny Hip Hop/R&B and plus size women have always had a thing for each other since chicken wings discovered hot sauce. And yet that love is rarely, if ever, painted by mainstream (or for anyone for that matter) as groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Granted, there are some slight differences between the mainstream’s newfound love and how Hip Hop and R&B have traditionally shown love for the plus sized. In Hip Hop the sexualization, as well as the centering of her weight, are more explicit whereas Jonas has opted to just feature Graham and let everyone else draw a conclusion.

However, this doesn’t mean that Graham is not being objectified in the video. This become particularly noticeable when you compare the visuals with the sexualized nature of the song. In particular:

Stuck in a limbo

Half hypnotized

Each time I let you stay the night, stay the night

Up in the morning

Tangled in sheets

We play the moment on repeat

When you’re standing there in your underwear

And my t-shirt from the night before

With your messed up hair

And your feet still bare

Would you mind closing the bedroom door?

Baby you don’t have to rush

You can leave a toothbrush

At my place

At my place

We don’t need to keep it hush

You can leave a toothbrush

At my place

At my place

‘Cause I just, I just can’t let you go

Give me something I never know

So baby you don’t have to rush

You can leave a toothbrush”

Sure, the video features them rolling around in much nicer sheets in a much nicer walkup and under much glossier and romantic filters. But really it’s just a song, and video, centered around how much he loves doing her.

For goodness sakes, he doesn’t even leave the bedroom for the entire video…

It wouldn’t be as bothersome if not for the fact that Hip Hop and R&B artists tend to take on the lion’s share of criticism when it comes to the objectification of women’s bodies. And yet very few will give the genre as a whole credit for pushing cultural beauty standards by featuring and showing love to a diversity of body types.

Meanwhile, what is tantamount to the same exact sort of sexualization get celebrated because White people have finally gotten around to realizing what the rest of the world of color folks have known for years: ain’t nothing wrong with thickness.

Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and bonafide troublemaker from Philadelphia. To read more of her writing, visit

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN