Superstar rapper Kendrick Lamar surprised fans when he released his latest single ‘Humble’ around two weeks ago. The single was a lead up to a new album which fans hope will be released soon. While Lamar’s fans gorged themselves on the new music and video, people were quick to notice several problematic lyrics in the track:
“I’m so f***in’ sick and tired of the Photoshop.
“Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor.
“Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretchmarks,” for example.
In response to the negative reaction to the lyrics, other fans jumped in and said that Lamar was simply stating his opinion, that he prefers the natural look on women. Fans also said that Lamar was trying to empower women by suggesting that natural is also beautiful. Whatever his intent was, Lamar’s personal opinion is perfectly fine. The way that he phrased it, however, is what sparked the debate.
Many may see this as a non-issue and in some ways it is a small problem, but it feeds into a larger issue which is the social stigma surrounding women’s beauty standards. Deny it all you like, but women are still expected to maintain a certain level of ‘beauty’ in order to be accepted by society. Yes, men are held to standards too, but it is a separate, although not entirely unrelated, issue.
In a world with airbrushed magazines and advertisements, the idea of flawless skin being seen as natural is not only promoted but idolised by companies trying to make us women buy their beauty products. Many people’s skin is not flawless; acne, scars, birthmarks and any number of other ‘imperfections’ are about as common as it gets. These ‘imperfections’ are very often not reflected magazines and ads, which leads people with these ‘imperfections’ feeling that it’s not normal and therefore must be covered by makeup in order to have ‘normal’ skin and be accepted by society. Stretchmarks as well have a stigma attached to them; they are seen as a sign of being ‘fat’, even though they are actually just a result of growing.
So, while Lamar may’ve been innocently stating his personal preference for the natural look, it is part of the larger problem of society norms and expectations of beauty for women. Instead of attacking women who wear makeup, we should probably attack the societal norms that say that women have to wear makeup.
Also, some women just like to wear makeup and their preference for wearing it, like Lamar’s preference for natural looks, is perfectly fine and shouldn’t be judged.
Watch the ‘Humble’ music video below and decide for yourself if Kendrick Lamar’s good intentions are there.