From The Grio — Nicki Minaj has made it no secret that mega-pop stardom is her ultimate destination. So her leaked song “Marilyn Monroe” channeling one of American culture’s super beauty icons should come as no surprise. Because it is Black History Month, however, Minaj’s flaunting of her internalized white American standards of beauty stand out more.
While it is doubtful that the entertainer, who just shared the stage with Madonna for the Super Bowl half-time show, is mindful of her perpetuation of age-old American beauty standards that largely exclude black women, she has been rewarded plenty for celebrating them.
Last month, nail salons throughout the nation began officially selling the Nicki Minaj by OPIcollection featuring such hit single-inspired colors as “Did It On ‘Em” and “Superbass Shatter.” In December, Mattel created an official Nicki Minaj Barbie for a charity auction that sold for $5,605.
When her debut album Pink Friday was released in 2010, MAC successfully sold limited edition “Pink Friday” lipstick to commemorate the occasion. And this month the official MAC 2012 Viva Glam campaign featuring Minaj and Ricky Martin as spokespersons launched.
If that weren’t enough, she’s also been getting work as a fashion model. She was on the November 2011 covers of both W and Cosmopolitan as well as an alternate Elle May 2011 cover and there are talks that she might just cover Vogue in the not so distant future. Just last month, the coveted Sunday edition of the New York Times pondered “Nicki Minaj as a Rising Style Muse.”
All the mainstream attention Minaj’s self-proclaimed “Harajuku Barbie” image has attracted is extremely problematic. Her Barbie-like small waist coupled with her Venus Hottentot backside and almost-always Marilyn Monroe blonde hair certainly sends mixed messages regarding black beauty values. The fact that Minaj has generated so much success by merging the typical mainstream beauty standards of Barbie and Marilyn Monroe with the outlandish “ghetto booty” that so many black men celebrate speaks volumes.
In an age when black beauty continues to be questioned, with several polls and even once-reputable publications like Psychology Today proclaiming black women as less attractive, not to mention the consistent insults dished out over first lady Michelle Obama’s looks, Minaj’s success reiterates that, in the United States, even in 2012, black needs to step back.
Therefore the anointing of Nicki Minaj as an emerging fashion icon encourages young black girls especially to manipulate their looks. The more fake and outrageous one appears, the better. The less that look resembles more common black features the more acceptable one becomes in mainstream arenas.