Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ode to Xtina

When I was younger, I didn't think I was a feminist. In fact, I believe I mentioned previously that I once wrote a paper for a history class about how women should know their place in the world and stop trying to mess with appropriated gender roles.

But, around the same time as that paper, I also did a project on how even Buffy the Vampire Slayer perpetuated gender stereotypes. I think I was probably just trying to do whatever would cause the most contention.

But throughout high school, really ever since tween stars became the new hot thing (about the same time as boy bands), my favorite musical artist was Christina Aguilera. Besides for the fact that between her, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, and even Jessica Simpson, she obviously had the best natural voice, and greatest range, I loved the person I perceived her to be.

As an impressionable teenager, she became my idol. When "Genie in a Bottle" came out, people around me questioned her integrity. The lyrics, and the dancing in the video, were too suggestive for someone so young. I defended her as an up and coming artist who was listening to producers in order to eventually make her own way.

Which she did. She became her own person, a strong woman, an independent woman, and my idol. Horrible rumors surfaced about her promiscuity. People talked about her outfits and called her names. Yes, she wore pretty crazy outfits (most notably this one - VMA 2002), and yes, quite often they showed a lot of skin. But it wasn't so much the outfits I loved as her reaction to naysayers. She said once that she didn't care what people said about her. She wore what she wanted to wear, and that was it. And it was the greatest response I had ever, and have ever, heard. You don't like what I'm wearing? Well, conveniently, I wore it to please myself, not the rest of you.

When she went on tour and lost weight, rumors swirled about an eating disorder, when in reality it was long hours of dancing and little time for food. She fought the rumors. The media came back when she gained weight, and vitriol reigned. Again, she turned a blind eye, and maintained her confidence in her body and self.

Christina has never been anyone but herself. No matter what the media was telling her she should be, she wore what she wanted to wear, when she wanted to wear it. And it wasn't a Lady Gaga thing, not a shock value, not a desperate attempt to get into the public eye. It was who she was. and it is who she is.

Recently, she came under attack for calling out her fellow Mouseketeer Tony Lucca on his final song in the competition -  Jay Z's 99 Problems (But a Bitch Ain't One). As a side note, with the birth of Jay Z's daughter, he vowed to never use the term bitch in his music again. His daughter, not his wife, got him to start respecting women. Whatever, at least he's there. Or trying to be. In any event, Xtina wasn't thrilled that Lucca used a song that's supposed to win it or lose it for him whose bridge is "I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one."

So what happens? The media pounces on Christina. What a bitch! (The irony of calling her a bitch because of her commentary is apparently lost on most people). A few choice comments:

"please, put some clothes on.. no one wants to see you half dressed... you need a new stylist if you want to be a professional and be taken seriously. Sexy does not mean slutty... maybe check out What Not To Wear!"

"She is a [sic] Overweight Diva - who thinks she is so wonderful. She dresses like a HO and she has issues."

"Christine [sic] shows up every week dressed like a $10 hooker and she thinks the song lyrics are degrading to women????"

(All quotes taken from People Magazine: Tony Lucca & Christina Aguilera Clash Over B-Word on The Voice)
The idea of attacking a woman's look when we disagree with her opinion is not new. It is reserved solely for women, but it is not new. Christina did the right thing. She voiced her opinion on a show where she is the judge. Not only does she have the platform to say what she wants, but this woman has been a champion for women's rights since she stepped into the limelight 13 years ago. So why the hate when she speaks her mind??

Especially about a rap that is not only about the degradation of women, but is by a champion of misogyny. Yes, Christina  had commented negatively on Lucca's voice previously. Isn't that her job? 

Where were these critics during American Idol and SImon Cowell's reign? What, really, was the big deal here?

It was a woman, voicing her opinion, on the negative portrayal of women. So, in retaliation, we negatively portray the woman who could say such blasphemy...

Christina, you are beautiful. No matter what they say. Words can't bring you down.  

It was in good part due to Aguilera's attitude that I learned to accept myself in middle school, into early high school. And I can't thank her enough for that. 

The world needs more famous women like Christina Aguilera. More female teen idols that exude confidence (btw she says that's the best way to attract a guy. I also like that answer) no matter what people are saying. 

So Christina, keep fighting the good fight. And  you'll forever remain my #1 female idol.

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