Music has always been at the forefront of social change. From rappers taking on racism to pop stars taking on sexism, songs and lyrics seep into our culture and slowly shift the way societies see the world. Hip-hop and R&B music have long been a source of contention for women—music videos are often riddled with half-naked women crawling on men who rap about things we won't name here—and that doesn't always make us proud. But there are a few artists and songs who have taken what we've known about women and beauty expectations, turned it on its head, and changed the way we think about traditional beauty standards. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Kendrick Lamar; "Humble"
Kendrick Lamar is hands down one of the best rappers of our generation. His lyrics are honest, take on systems of racial inequality and injustice and shed light on the dark parts of the American way. And finally someone is celebrating women's stretch marks! We all have them, so we might as well embrace them. The whole video is beautiful, but his comments on natural beauty happen around the 1:43 mark.
"I'm so f***in' sick and tired of Photoshop, show me somethin' natural like afro on Richard Pryor, show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretch marks." And what better way to honor the lyrics than showing us an un-retouched, beautifully stretch marked booty in the video?
2. Nicki Minaj ft. Drake, Lil' Wayne, Chris Brown; "Only"
Like her or not, Nicki Minaj celebrates her body, her sexuality and lifestyle in every word she raps. The song is an ode to independent, fierce women who do what they want... and also have big, beautiful butts.
Oh, and shout out to Drake's verse celebrating bigger bodies and healthy appetites in this song: "That's right, I like my girls BBW, the type that wanna [sexually explicit] then eat some lunch with you."
3. Sir Mix-a-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
This song might be a bit of a joke these days, but in its prime, it did a lot for women with curves. Is there any song in the English language that better worships a nice, big butt?
"So Cosmo says you're fat. Well, I ain't down with that. Cuz your waist is small and your curves are kickin'." The ultimate middle finger to beauty and fashion standards. YASS!
4. J. Cole, "Crooked Smile"
"Love yourself, girl, or nobody will. Oh, you a woman? I don't know how you deal with all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels ... You wake up, put makeup on, stare in the mirror but it's clear that you can't face what's wrong. No need to fix what God already put his paint brush on."
Need I say more? Preach, J. Cole, preach.
5. TLC, "Unpretty"
First, three cheers for TLC. "Never insecure until I met you, now I'm bein' stupid, I used to be so cute to me... Why do I look to all these things to keep you happy? Maybe get rid of you and then I'll be back to me."
These fierce women prove that beauty comes from within, the haters and those who tear you down be damned. This will forever remain a self-love anthem, and I'll be playing it for every child I meet until the end of time.
Share your favorite body positive jams in the comments!