Kendrick Lamar has always looked to defy the mainstream standard of beauty among Black women. He’s the same rapper that hand-picked Brittany Sky to star in the “Poetic Justice” video because he wanted a dark-skinned co-star when many other rap videos spotlighted fair-skinned women. He’s the same rapper who made a song called “No Makeup” where he asked his lady to chill on the foundation and lipstick for one day because he loved what she considered her imperfections. When I read tweets about his “incense-covered misogyny” and how he patronizes women after he released his latest single, “Humble,” I was truly confused.
On the Mike Will Made It-produced track, K. Dot raps “I’m so f–kin’ sick and tired of the photoshop/ Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor/Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks/I still will take you down right on your mama couch in Polo socks.”
Feminist twitter had time that day.
I’ve seen arguments that say he’s putting down women who use photoshop; therefore, he is shaming one group of women to uplift another. The TDE spitter didn’t say “shame on you for touching up your pictures to hide your stretch marks or acne scars.” He simply shared his preference for the natural look. He’d rather see us untouched because he thinks it’s beautiful. I mean, as women we should see our beauty beyond the filters as well. But some don’t, and hopefully the Compton emcee’s words can be encouraging. This man can see your beauty, but can you?
Some stated that women don’t need validation from K. Dot, or any man, to love their “flaws” or boost their self-worth. Lamar doesn’t want you to believe or agree with him because he is a man and what he says about a woman is what goes. He’s not saying you should prefer your unrefined look because he does. He’s sharing his weariness of seeing bodies that were created, whether by surgery or editing, and not seeing any other images of the everyday women. There’s no balance in the images of women across social media or hip-hop videos. These “bad and boujee” bodies are always praised with likes and reposts via social media and deemed to be the most desired, especially with the rise of Instagram models. This can have an extremely negative effect on women who don’t have the highest self-esteem to begin with, especially teens. The “i” rapper is using his voice to say all women are still desired in their most natural state, stretch marks and all.
As women we have the right to get breast or butt implants, have a plethora of wigs, wear makeup from sunup to sundown and use any Instagram filter that we please. Taking part in these things can be for fun or to make a woman feel more confident about herself. Some women have body image issues and low self-esteem, and these mechanisms can be used to cover up features that they see as unbearable flaws. Those few bars from that “Humble” verse remind us that even though weaves, makeup and photoshop may enhance our beauty, our “flaws” are apart of our beauty as well.