Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

I’m going to make this quick, because this Nicki Minaj Elle cover, photo spread and article have already been thinkpieced to death on Twitter and in private conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues. I don’t want to add to the mire; I just want to say a few things.

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First of all, let’s keep it real. A black woman on the cover of a major [white] fashion and lifestyle magazine is a big deal. Our inclusion in these outlets is tenuous and conditional, so each time we are seen—as Nicki is here—delivering our authentic personalities and being our authentic selves, it is something to celebrate.

Much ado has been made about one of the photos that shows celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble—a darker-skinned black woman—tending to the hair of Nicki—a lighter-skinned black woman. Maiysha Kai, managing editor of The Glow Up, did an excellent job of breaking it down and representing all sides of the argument. I am not a darker-skinned woman, so I cannot say what they may feel when they see the image. I’ve seen the arguments on both sides.

I will say that there is nuance. Someone who doesn’t understand us or our culture may see it a lot differently, and perhaps that it what a lot of people are feeling when they look at it.

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Ultimately, I think if Kim and Nicki are OK with the image, then I can let that be. And that definitely appears to be the case.

Full disclosure: I am admittedly not a Nicki fan. I don’t dislike her; I am just not a Barbie. She’s had some decent features and rhymes, and most of them have included some version of her talking about sex, her pussy, her ass, her body, etc. She has the sexy rapper thing down to a ‘T.’

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So imagine my surprise when I read the article and saw her slut shaming so-called “Instagram girls,” strippers prostitutes. She says one of the messages on her new album is that it is “okay to keep your legs closed.”

From Elle:

“Maybe I was naïve, but I didn’t realize how many girls were modern-day prostitutes,” she begins. “Whether you’re a stripper, or whether you’re an Instagram girl—these girls are so beautiful and they have so much to offer. But I started finding out that you give them a couple thousand dollars, and you can have sex with them. I was like, Yikes. It’s just sad that they don’t know their worth. It makes me sad as a woman. And it makes me sad that maybe I’ve contributed to that in some way.”

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She goes on to say that she’s not selling sex, she’s selling sex appeal.

GIF: Giphy

OK, girl. You should have just sat there and ate your food.

In the same article, Nicki reveals that she is single for the first time since she was 15 years old (she’s in her mid-thirties now), and it’s obvious that her time alone with her vagina has been reflective and change-inducing. On her new album, Queen, she raps “abstaining from sex had to zen my body. I ain’t giving, so don’t ask, I don’t lend my body. He gotta be king status to get in my body.”

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But much like a newly-saved born again Christian, Nicki is out there trying to preach a gospel she clearly hasn’t fully learned herself—and turning her nose up at others who haven’t joined the church with her as she’s doing it.

Just say you are moving out of your personal ho phase and go. You shouldn’t have to subtly drag other women as you do it. Your “new pussy, new me” experience isn’t even a year old yet. What if you change your mind?

My point is, you can decide that you no longer want to sell sex sex appeal yourself while still remaining entire respectful toward the many women who do choose to sell sex, sex appeal or a combination of both. Those two things can happen at the same time because we are individuals, and as individuals, we get to make our own choices. As long as those choices aren’t harming anyone else, what does it matter?

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My three rules for life apply here for Ms. Minaj:

  1. Mind your own business.
  2. Mind your own money.
  3. Mind your own pussy, sis.

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