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Kendrick Lamar, Humble

Are we so starved for cishet men to appreciate actual so-called “natural” beauty that Kendrick Lamar showing a woman’s stretch marks is revolutionary?

Over the weekend you probably 1. Watched Kendrick Lamar’s new music video directed by Dave Meyers for his single, “Humble,” and 2. You probably read a few pieces and insightful threads on Twitter about his shout-out to “natural” women.

I don’t want to repeat the analysis of other brilliant Black women — you can read one here by De La Fro — but I did want to expand on some thoughts that I had in regard to the male gaze.  

I used to seek male validation when I was younger. I used to think being shitty or competitive with other girls for men’s attention was normal and that we were just naturally catty and dudes were just so much more chill and so worth us breaking apart our friendships. LOL — I learned how much of a lie that was when I got older.

Things are wildly different for me now. I prefer that my interactions with cishet men (who aren’t my friends or family) be limited to just about zero, and the only person whose approval I crave is my own. My makeup is for me, my clothes are for me, my haircut is for me. So when cishet men drop unsolicited comments about my appearance, it annoys me that they think their perspectives are valid or worth me even hearing.

When Kendrick raps about black women being “natural” versus undergoing the use of Photoshop, he thinks his personal preference and perspective of what women should and shouldn’t do is valid. He sees women as a monolith: we can either be “natural” or spend an hour applying dip-brow and highlighter. We’re not allowed to be multi-faceted beings who do things for ourselves.

Related: Dave Chappelle Hasn’t Evolved

The thing is, nothing we do should ever be for anyone but ourselves, and when it comes to black women, the barriers of what is acceptable within the performance of femininity is limited by society’s misogynoir.

There is nothing wrong with women wanting to be Photoshopped if it makes them truly happy. There is nothing wrong with loving makeup and weaves — especially if it makes black women happy. Black cis and trans women’s happiness is literally the only thing that matters.

Are we so starved for cishet men to appreciate actual so-called “natural” beauty that Kendrick Lamar showing a woman’s stretch marks is revolutionary? And behind that lens is Dave Meyers, a cishet white man filming sections of a black woman’s body. The male gaze — the white male gaze — is there.

Oh, so you’re cool with stretch marks on black women now? How about armpit hair? How about leg hair? For cishet men, “natural” is conditional and has to come in bite-size and easily digestible chunks. But we’re tired of waiting for you to be cool with the varying levels of what makes black women comfortable and happy.

Is “Humble” a beautifully shot video? Yes! Is it a great fucking song? Yes! Should Lamar be praised for his perspective of women? Not really. I’m more interested in what trans and cis women have to say about themselves and their bodies.

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Lara Witt is an award-winning feminist writer who primarily writes about feminism, racism, pop-culture, mental health, and politics. Witt received her BA in Journalism from Temple University and interned for Philadelphia CityPaper’s arts and entertainment section and the Philadelphia Daily News covering local news, court stories, and crime. Following her graduation, she became increasingly committed to writing about gender, race, and queer identity by using Black and brown feminist theory to analyze current news and politics. Witt freelanced for national and local publications, which led to her working with Wear Your Voice Magazine eventually becoming their EIC and rebranding the site to focus primarily on using the analytical framework of Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality. Witt’s goal is to provide platforms for marginalized voices with a focus on having other Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) writers tell their own stories and explore their own narratives. Witt has spoken at local Philadelphia events, such as the March to End Rape Culture (2017) and curated a yearly series of events called The Electric Lady Series. These events highlight women of color in Philadelphia by exploring gender, rape culture, entrepreneurship, art, self-care, sex, and culture.

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