Curves and Trends
IN THIS PHOTO: Little Mix are raising awareness around body issues in their single, Strip/PHOTO CREDIT: Little Mix/Rankin
Why a Genuine Show of Strength and Honesty Should Not Be Questioned and Cheapened
THIS piece has been ‘inspired’ by an argument…
PHOTO CREDIT: Little Mix
that is breaking out regarding Little Mix stripping for a promotional photo concerning their latest album, LM5. The photo/still from the video shows the members with words written on their bodies. It is a promotional for their track, Strip, that shows them facing the camera with words written on their bodies. It is meant to show what women have to face and expectations placed upon them. The members have shown a naked sense of honesty and revelation; not designed to sell records and make headlines but show the realities of being a woman and how they have pressure put onto them daily. This article gives the details:
“Seven years and five albums in, Little Mix are continuing to prove themselves models of empowerment and body positivity. Those themes run deep throughout the Brit girl group’s new album, LM5, and to celebrate their big release day on Friday (November 16), they debuted not one, but two stunning videos.
The first, “Strip,” was co-directed by photographer Rankin and features inspirational activists like Bryony Gordon and Nimco Ali, along with featured artist Sharaya J and the girls’ own family members. Fittingly, Jesy, Jade, Perrie, and Leigh-Anne “stripped” down for the black and white affair, covering their skin with nothing but derogatory words like “slutty,” “talentless,” and “ugly.” It’s a striking image, and their confident, liberating lyrics give it all the context you need: “Take off all my makeup ’cause I love what’s under it / Rub off all your words, don’t give a uh, I’m over it / Jiggle all this weight, yeah, you know I love all of this / Finally love me naked, sexiest when I’m confident”...
Upon releasing the video for “Strip,” Little Mix tweeted, “This is so special to us, from the amazing women we worked with, to the message of the song. It’s EVERYTHING we wanted LM5 to represent!”
Along with “Strip,” the group also debuted an eye-catching video for “More Than Words.” In it, featured artist Kamille basically becomes an honorary fifth member of the tribe, joining the girls as they belt the thundering power ballad against hazy backdrops that compliment the song’s glitchy vocal stylings. Don’t miss the stormy climax, during which they weather a wild rainstorm while proclaiming their undying devotion.
Little Mix’s very empowering, very poptastic LM5 is out now”.
Most people have not had an issue with Little Mix’s shot/video and what they are doing – there is an objectionable voice in the pack. There has been a row brewing involving, no surprises, Piers Morgan! This article gives you some developments and background:
“Pop star Ariana Grande has hit out at Piers Morgan with a series of tweets in defence of women who choose to show off their bodies.
The ITV presenter criticised girl band Little Mix for posing naked.
He mocked their "feminist statement" and accused the group of using sex to sell records.
Grande, who Little Mix has supported on tour, then waded in to the spat: "I use my talent AND my sexuality all the time because i choose to...
also @piersmorgan, i look forward to the day you realize there are other ways to go about making yourself relevant than to criticize young, beautiful, successful women for everything they do. i think that’ll be a beautiful thing for you and your career or what’s left of it. 🖤— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) November 21, 2018
"Women can be sexual AND talented. naked and dignified. it's OUR choice," Grande tweeted.
Piers Morgan is known for being a provocateur on issues like this.
During a debate about the image and Little Mix on ITV's Good Morning Britain earlier this week, he said the girl band were using a naked photo shoot for attention and accused them of "using sex to sell records".
But Morgan made it clear he didn't buy their message of body positivity.
"Here's a great idea, girls - if you want to really empower yourselves, get naked and put the word slut all over your body," Morgan said on GMB, before showing a mock photo-shopped image of him posing with insults all over his body.
"Why don't we stop pretending that getting your kit off is feminist empowerment?" he added, citing other celebrities who have posed nude including Kim Kardashian.
The row between the band and Morgan then escalated further when member Jesy Nelson told the BBC's Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 she was not surprised by his comments before using an expletive to describe the TV host.
She then posted pictures of herself posing in underwear on her Instagram account.
In recent days, Morgan had also accused the Ellen DeGeneres show of hypocrisy for a segment where she "celebrated" images of handsome men, including some partially clothed.
Ariana Grande's mother, Joan, waded into the row by quoting Morgan's tweet about Dixie Chicks and saying: "Didn't your mother ever teach you, if you have nothing nice to say, don't say it!"...
IN THIS IMAGE: Piers Morgan’s ‘response’ to the Little Mix-Ariana Grande row/PHOTO CREDIT: @piersmorgan
The presenter then replied, doubling down on his accusation that the band were using their nudity to sell records.
Joan issued a scathing reply, saying: "Trash talk for the sake of denigrating women doing their jobs is at best misogynistic and at worst undignified and ignorant!"
Grande then clapped back at Morgan with a series of tweets of her own about women's right to choose to show their bodies off.
The singer also accused him of hypocrisy while supporting the band, who have toured with her and performed at her One Love Manchester concert”.
I think Morgan’s point in all of this is that men would be criticised for stripping and trying to sell music that way and Little Mix have stripped down so they can get more fans in and court more headlines. In his Daily Mail column; Morgan talked about modern feminism and a couple of women who are not, I presume, his kind of feminist:
“Hypocrisy is sadly a prevalent theme with much of modern feminism.
The likes of Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski have both built hugely lucrative careers out of stripping off in the supposed name of ‘feminist empowerment’”.
In the case of Kim Kardashian-West and celebrities who have been known to strip down for no reason; I agree there are times when it has been problematic. There have been occasions when Kardashian-West has been talking about body-shaming, body size and diets and has revealed these photos of her; all curvy, slender and sexy. Maybe her intentions were good – to show everyone is beautiful etc. – but it seems, when you have a near-perfect figure, it is almost insulting to post photos like that.
Many women will see models and celebrities and feel inferior and weak. I feel artists and figures like Kim Kardashian-West mean well but their actions can be misguided and, for the most part, her words and potent messages can be more powerful than stripping down. One could call it (stripping) feminism but one could also claim there is sensationalism and exhibitionism. I think it is great if women want to show some curves and show their bodies on Instagram or whatever and their actions should not be questioned. It is empowering and, at a time when there is rife sexism and sexual assaults against women, if it gives them confidence and inspires others then all the better! As a heterosexual male, it may seem like I am encouraging voyeurism and titillation. There is a marked difference between reality T.V. figures and artists like Little Mix. Morgan’s cynicism can be seen as him baiting and attacking like we are used to – when is he ever out of the news?! – but he is stepping into a conversation he is ill-equipped to understand. I know Morgan has asked Ariana Grande onto Good Morning Britain to ‘settle things’ but one suspects he would argue and throw his weight around. The reason I have been compelled to wade in is because of the assumption revealing any flesh, in music, is a marketing ploy.
IN THIS PHOTO: Ariana Grande/PHOTO CREDIT: @ArianaGrande
Let’s set aside models and reality T.V. stars and whether shots of them topless/scantily-clad in mirrors is their version of feminism or something they feel compelled to share with the world. I might get in trouble if I sit on the fence there but, in music, why would anyone assume Little Mix’s photo was designed to score streams and sales?! Consider, first, their typical demographic. Not to be all-sweeping but one feels most of their fans are teenage girls – they certainly are not marketing to people like Piers Morgan and myself. Maybe there are older males who listen to their music but few are going to go out and listen to their music because they are showing their curves! I have heard their music and like most of it but would not call myself a fan. I did not see that image (at the top of this piece) where they have words written on their skin and get arousal – sexually or commercially. I am not rushing to Spotify to stream their latest album because, if I do, they might show more of themselves in future! The photo shows potent and alarming words that look at things women have to deal with – from slut-shaming and sexism to being judged ugly and useless (either by men or their peers). They could not have made such a bold statement clothed and the juxtaposition between these common and upsetting terms and them revealing themselves leaves a lingering impression.
IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images
The objective was not to be objectified; they want to be taken very seriously and I think their brand of feminism, to argue against Morgan, is very inspiring and fine. I do not believe they aimed to court any extra sales and ensure they drawn in a different demographic. A lot of the people who will see the image and buy Little Mix’s music – teenager girls and children – will see their favourite stars addressing issues like fat-shaming and sexism and are not shying away. At no point between conception and execution of the photo are marketing men salivating at the prospect of randy teenage boys and leery older men getting their jollies seeing Jesy, Jade; Perrie and Leigh-Anne cupping their breasts and touching their skin. There is a huge moral, philosophical and intended divide between Little Mix’s photo and some rather racy shots being posted to get some more Instagram followers. Ariana Grande has, rightly, stated it is rather cheap and cynical to attack beautiful and honest young women; questioning what they are doing and sneering. Look at modern music and there are bold and inspirational artists like Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande; Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Katy Perry and, for nearly every one of them, sexuality and nudity plays some role. Whether it is a photo or part of a music video; the intention is expression, empowerment and honesty.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kim Kardashian/Kardashian-West/PHOTO CREDIT: Presley Ann/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
I admit there have been cases in music where sex has been used to sell. Some videos have featured semi-naked women just to get people talking and that is another matter. A lot of these videos feature male artists and directors and their ambition is to get some cheap attention. Little Mix and their contemporaries realise the work and what they are saying is important and, as I say, their demographic is largely young and female. There is something alluring and racy seeing a female artist in a very charged video or a provocative photo but it is art and expression – they are not wondering how many extra fans they can get out of this. Look back at artists like Madonna and how, even early in her career, she used sex as a way of pushing against conventional and conservatism. There were, sure, times she was literally selling the concept of sex but her videos and photos were designed not to cheaply sell records but show her personality and fight against repression. She was expressing herself and sex is a healthy part of life – talking about it in music is great and, if it not taken too far, then why complain and judge?! Madonna was paving a way for female artists and still fights today about sexism and the patriarchy. This easy and unflinching judgement from Piers Morgan seems to apply to all female artists. If they are seen to take their clothes off then, naturally, they are struggling and need to get their careers back on track!
If Little Mix had simply been standing completely naked and cheekily winking at the camera then, yes, I would not see a pure motive for that. That is not them – or most other female artists – and they are very proud of the photo (quite right). If you are going to question every woman who has disrobed or been a bit edgy for a photo then you will have your work cut out. In some cases, there is a fine line between art and exploitation/commercial gain but that was not the case here. Think about the campaigners and strong feminists who are fighting against this very male and unhelpful type of comment and what message it is sending out. I have been following Jameela Jamil’s work and how she is standing up against body-shaming and those who degrade women. She is one of this generation’s most vocal and important figures; tackling those who judge women’s bodies or have unrealistic and crude expectations. Jamil constantly is being exposed to men who are attacking her views and displaying the kind of ignorance that should have died decades ago. We have a long way to go combating sexism and abuse but she is taking huge strides. There do seem to be double standards when it comes to nudity and what the ‘intent’ is. There have been plenty of male Popstars through the years who have stripped to their underwear and, even though their intent is less expression and more salaciousness; nobody gets on their cases and criticises them.
IN THIS PHOTO: Jameela Jamil who, like Little Mix, has raised awareness regarding body issues and shaming/PHOTO CREDIT: Ramona Rosales for The Guardian
Why should a band like Little Mix have to answer for themselves when their intentions are pure and they are trying to fight against sexism, hatred and judgement?! It is no surprise Piers Morgan has been making the news – and claiming to be the victim when faced with a backlash – and I do wonder how his Good Morning Britain co-host, Susana Reid, puts up with him! She has, on more than one occasion, ripped up his script or got angry because he has gone too far or said something foolish. I would agree that there have been cases where artists have stripped and shown flesh to sell and get tabloid inches but this is as far from the truth as possible regarding Little Mix. The more these kind of stories bubble up – when there are objections and dubious attacks – then the longer it will take for equality and any sort of real conversation to take place. Little Mix, as you can see from what is written on them, are taking a stand, showing a very striking image and trying to raise awareness. The assumption they are engaging in some salacious and crude marketing ploy to get extra money and fans is ridiculous. We should be on the same page and trying to stamp out harsh expectations, cruelty and discrimination – if someone is trying to make a positive difference then questioning that is only adding to the issue. I shall leave it there and move past it but I know there have been some words exchanged between Little Mix, Piers Morgan and Ariana Grande. Whether a consensus and truce can be called then I do not know but I hope he can see why his reaction is misjudged.
PHOTO CREDIT: Little Mix
The last thing I will mention regards whether they should have used ‘real’ women for the video/shot and not themselves. This article from Metro makes a valid point:
“While PR expert Hayley Smith of Boxed Out PR does believe the whole thing has ‘a feeling of discomfort as it feels as if they are using this for PR to sell records’, she does believe their message is something that still needs to be applauded. ‘It’s a relevant topic and they’re showing support of it,’ she added to Metro.co.uk. ‘I don’t think it’s a case of sex sells, as they aren’t trying to reach a male audience, they’re trying to empower a female audience and they certainly shouldn’t be slut shamed for it.’ Their clip has been praised by body confidence advocates and fans are loving the tune. But despite the tune being a certified bop, Piers was fuming at the idea: ‘What is empowering about this? Get your kit off, airbrush yourself to within an inch of your lives… ‘What’s the point of it? Using nudity to sell their album…It’s using sex, sexuality to sell albums.’
PHOTO CREDIT: @sauvageisland/Unsplash
Smith added that while they invited a studio of faces in do dance in their underwear alongside them, the girls should have used every day faces for the album cover, shot by famed photographer Rankin, instead of themselves, if they really wanted to shout their message. ‘I think it would have been a better move if they used real girls (and guys) on the album cover. Using themselves feels somewhat antiquated and they’ve missed a real opportunity to make a huge impact,’ she continued. ‘Using real people, with their insecurities and online insults written on them would have been incredibly powerful, and the girls could have joined them’”.
Maybe they should have used everyday women in the video but that is something they could think about. It would have made the video a bit more rounded but, for a promotional shot, they would have needed to have an image of themselves. Maybe they can take this on board but I feel Piers Morgan’s viewpoint is flawed and wrong. If anything, the video/photo has done exactly what it set out to do...
IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images
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