Earlier this week, Blake Lively received a bunch of backlash for captioning a picture of her backside with lyrics from Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back.”
She captioned the photo “L.A. face with an Oakland booty,” and a lot of people got upset an accused her of using Black women’s bodies as a joke.
Another day, another rich white woman using WOC's bodies as a punchline and commodity. As if Blake Lively wasn't the worst already.
— Kat Bee (@katbeee) May 18, 2016
Jezebel writer J.E. Reich said this of the problem:
“In the end, it touts a diametrical opposition: that Los Angeles can be equated to elegance and/or beauty (read: whiteness), and that Oakland is its foil (read: blackness).”
Well, Sir-Mix-A-Lot says he was ‘surprised’ at the outrage and that he didn’t write the song specifically for a race, but in celebration of a body type that wasn’t being celebrated at the time.
A friend of mine, he said, “Dude, I know Katy Perry did this, one of the Kardashians did this, but I don’t understand, what did this girl do to make everybody pissed off?” So I checked it out, and looked at it and I was kind of … I liked it. You know, I like stuff like that, but I was a little surprised at the criticism.
Let’s rewind to when I wrote the song. And I am in no way trying to say that I speak for all black people. I think that people that do that need to be shut down pretty quickly because it makes us kind of monolithic, which is silly. But the reason I wrote the song was because I always felt that the African-American idea of what was beautiful was shunned. If you go back and look at 1990, 1991, you only saw African-American women and Hispanic women who were either a maid or a hooker. I watched a lot of Law and Order, Gimme a Break, Mama’s House and all those shows, and you saw the same thing. They were always my size: overweight, and that’s the way they wanted to see us. I don’t know who “they” is, but it seems like the powers that be in Hollywood or the heads of magazines or whatever wanted to see us that way.
Now at the same time, what was promoted as beautiful was kind of really waif-thin, borderline heroin addicts. I don’t mean that literally, I mean the look. That was kind of pushed at us, and we were told that it was beautiful, and what I started to see was some people of color either being ashamed of who they were or trying their best to assimilate. So I wrote “Baby Got Back,” not to say which race is prettier — which is silly, because there were white women with the same curves that were told that they were fat, too. There were people that were actually saying that Marilyn Monroe looked bad. They didn’t say that at her peak, obviously, they said it later on.
So I wrote this song not as a battle between the races. I wrote the song because I wanted Cosmopolitan, I wanted all these big magazines to kind of open up a little bit and say, “Wait a minute, this may not be the only beautiful.” I mean, I don’t look at Serena Williams as fat. I don’t think she has an ounce of fat anywhere on her. I didn’t want there to be one voice. I wanted to say, “Hey, us over here! What we feel like is this.”
What I meant by “L.A.” was Hollywood. In other words, makeup or whatever it took to make that face look good, they do it in L.A. But, as much as you can throw makeup on something, you can’t make up the butt. That’s what L.A. face and Oakland booty meant. You can put makeup on that face and make it look beautiful, but a butt is a butt, a body is a body.
Did you find Blake Lively’s caption offensive? We have to be honest…the outrage seemed a little misplaced with this one.