If even one of the most famous and powerful America rappers, sings: “I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop, show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor, show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretchmarks”, then it’s really time to pause and reflect.
Humble is the latest single from Kendrick Lamar. In it, the singer (surrounded nonetheless by dollars, women, gangs and all the classic rap tropes) introduces significant visual themes, citing, for example, Leonardo’s Last Supper. It’s a invocation directed towards women: “Be your natural selves!” Is the world really changing? First the Pirelli Calendar, for years the last bastion of impossible and artificial standards of beauty, introduced women of all ages portrayed without filters or tricks. Now we also have rappers, more used to featuring women as a kind of hypersexualised sideshow in their videos, calling for a more truthful depiction of the body. And in the last few days the news that Michelle Obama has been photographed for the first time with her natural, non-straightened afro hair has been received with joy across social media…