Michelle Obama’s presence is a welcome, seismic shift from the stereotypical image of women of color as accessories to their own exploitation in media. In her non-celebrity post as the Most Influential Woman of the Free World, Mrs. Obama is covered by media daily around the globe, giving her the power to unravel the thread of negative perception about Black women in a way that even the mighty Oprah could not. Dealing a major blow to the video ho, Mrs. Obama is the only First Lady to make Maxim’s 100 Hottest Women In The World, holding her own at #93 with starlets and models.
This awesome power now has a name: The Michelle Effect.
As far as I’m concerned it’s about time the hoochie fell out of fashion. She’s been pop culture’s go-to stereotype for long enough. BET Uncut was cancelled. The Girls Next Door had their final season. The window of fame for Tiffany Pollard of I Love New York appears to be coming to a close and the KING is dead. KING magazine, that is. He lost his crown this March.
Somewhere along the way the hoochie became a crutch, a distraction to draw attention away from subpar talent. The hoochie used to ensure a quick buck no matter what was being sold. The same could be said about all the music clogging the airwaves loaded with digital trickery. Autotune, like the video hoe, is overexposed. Jay-Z heralds the death of Autotune. Me? I’m trumpeting the Death of Video Hoes.
Even video vixen-turned author Karrine Steffans has turned over a new leaf. She now rejects Superhead, her former nickname. Steffans is living proof that skin can only get you so far before your brain has to kick in. Now, she’s turning her past into The Vixen Manual, a tutorial for women seeking to keep their men from…you guessed it—hoochies. Another nail driven into the video ho’s coffin.
But where’s the line between loving your skin and showing too much?
At one end of the spectrum you have Michelle Obama, who is scrutinized for exposing her arms. On the on the other (dare I say deep) end of the skin showing spectrum, we’ve got leaked photos of pop princesses Cassie and Rihanna showing it all. The jury is still out on whether these Internet leaks were publicity stunts or real violations of their privacy.
What we do know is all their “business” is out in the street now. Once simply sexy and provocative, both are now also viewed as indecent. As the ripple effect of their overexposure continues, so does the debate.
Will Cassie and Rihanna’s endorsements suffer?
Have they fallen from grace?
Were they really just hoochies with microphones to begin with?
In this new era of the user-generated sexting, are leaked nude photos the marketing strategy du jour for female celebrities? Media plays along by running these leaks as top stories, reinforcing that nudity gets girls attention.
But where’s the payoff? Both Cassie and Rhianna lost points with music buyers. According to Billboard, in the subsequent weeks after the leaks, single sales were flat for Cassie and down for Rihanna.
In another match-up, Ciara posed nude (on purpose) on the October 2008 cover of VIBE only to find her third album, Fantasy Ride debut at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Coming in at the top spot was Epiphany, the sophomore set from the fully clothed, full-figured and lesser-known Chrisette Michele.
Keep clothes on. Go #1. Repeat.
Even Drake, the hot rapper of the moment and former star of hit teen drama Degrassi muses, “sweat pants hair tied chillin’ with no makeup on. That’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong”. No offense taken.
The Michelle Effect is transforming the image of womanhood in America.
Queens up, hoes down.
By Thembisa S. Mshaka, Author of Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business
Tags: autotune, BET Uncut, Billboard magaizne, cassie, chrisette michelle, degrassi, drake, epiphany, fantasy ride, first lady, Girls Next Door, ho, hoochie, I love new york, jay z, karrinne steffans, King Magazine, Maxim, Obama, Put Your Dreams First, Queens Up Hoes Down, rhianna, Sexting, Thembisa Mshaka, tiffany pollard, vibe magazine, video vixen, vixen manual