Monday nights have been crowned my guilty pleasure night. It is the sole night of the week where I can unabashedly imbibe the ratchetness of reality television. I am not ashamed to admit that somewhere in an alternate universe called my brain Cardi B is my girl! As in homie, sister, friend. Like, she had me at fo-evahhh. There is something refreshing about this young woman’s badassness that has everyone wondering what’s poppin‘.
So who is this regular, degular, shmegular caribeña from the Bronx that has social media on smash? Belcalis “Cardi B” Almanzar is a 23 year old stripper of Dominican and Trinidadian descent turned internet sensation and now Love & Hip Hop New York fave. Well depending on who you ask. All you have to do is google search the phenom that is Cardi B to quickly familiarize yourself with her gangsta. She is raw, uninhibited, in your face and unapologetic. With her candid approach tackling provocative subjects through 16 second video clips, Cardi B has amassed a cult following. She has over 38,ooo likes on Facebook, over 1 million followers on Instagram, about 220,000 on Twitter and another 50 thousand plus on her backup Twitter page -just in case the debauchery gets her account suspended. Her You Tube videos garner over 20,000 hits per video thus labeling her a marketing genius.
Yet for all the people that stan for Cardi B she still has many detractors in women and men alike that just don’t get the gist of who Cardi B is and why she’s hood famous. Let’s be clear, Cardi B had a plan. Stripping was just a means of getting there. It’s no longer considered taboo to work as an exotic dancer. The money is fast, easy and addictive. In an interview with The Breakfast Club on New York’s Power 105.1, Cardi B explains how at 19 she got fired from her job at a supermarket. Making $250 while working 8 hour shifts 6 days a week and living in a 1 bedroom apt with 6 other people turned Cardi into a hustler. She made $300 in one afternoon of stripping and quickly discovered a profession that pays the bills and funds the lifestyle she envisioned herself living.
There are many A-List people who did what they had to do to survive. That doesn’t make them less than. It makes them human. When we police women’s bodies we are teaching them that owning their sexuality is something to be embarrassed of. We tell them real women don’t behave this way. You can miss me with that jargon. This is the same society that charges $80 per session for twerk and pole classes yet chastises the women who make a profession from it. You can act like an exotic dancer just don’t become one. What?! Pole dancing is a skill. Have you seen these women on a pole? Exactly.
My momma still in the hood so I gotta get me some mo’ money. -Cardi B
There is a stigma associated with being a bad bitch that delineates the type of character women want to associate themselves with. As if being goal oriented, driven and alpha is a bad thing. Here’s what happens when women place societal isms on other women, we become competitive. We become unfriendly. We begin to other. We become the mean girls that tell other girls they can’t sit with us. We become bitter. We become petty. We become categorized in memes. We become fetishized through a patriarchal lens on what real women should be. We become the reason “I only have guy friends.”
Cardi B is that girl you want to befriend. The girl you can call up after a bad break-up because you need someone to turn up with. She’s that girl who will twerk her way out of a traffic ticket for you. The girl who will convince you to buy freak em dresses on Fordham Road so ya’ll can have money left over to make sure your hair is tight. Cardi is the girl who will hold a mirror to your ratchetness -we all have a twinge- and say I love you anyway. You need a friend that shows you there’s nothing wrong with being yourself. It’s okay if all you have is a High School diploma but your drive is on a hundred. It’s okay if you were a teen mom or lived in the projects and had to hustle to get by. You want the friend that humbles you enough to be your authentic self on any given day.
“I relate to every hood girl that has a dream that they try to chase. Every girl that has some struggles and do a little thang for some change”.-Cardi B
“I remember when I use to dance on 42nd street. Right after work I used to pass BB Kings to take the train and go home at 4am.I will never imagine or even dreamed I’ll be hosting a sold out event here. All I did was be myself.” -Cardi B
She’s not perfect and she doesn’t claim the title. I don’t even think she wants it. Cardi B seems intent on living her truth. Whether it’s a video about body shaming, bad fellatio, her teeth (which by the way she admitted to not wanting to fix because it only shows other girls they have to restructure the way they look to fit in) or warning her female fan-base on the pitfalls of stripping, Cardi B has a message. She’s just not seeking permission to tell it and we can either be empowered or mind our business while she gets that shmoney.