If you know anything at all about Cardi B, the last thing you might expect to be associated with her name is ‘role model’. If you have ever come across her music or watched her on Love and Hip Hop NY (which I obviously have) then you will mostly likely know her for offensive and crude language, violence and stripping – three less than ideal identifiers. However, as crazy as it might sound, Cardi B is in fact someone I consider to be inspirational and a personal role model.
There is no denying or defending some of her actions, and I certainly do not condone nor advocate for violence and aggression. Cardi B herself has even spoken out about how she isn’t a role model after facing heavy criticism and backlash following her success. To an extent I agree because Cardi B isn’t someone I would want my young daughter to be exposed to. However, I am no longer a young child which means I am mature and intelligent enough to see beyond her behaviour and uncover the core attributes heralded by this young woman.
The rapper is outspoken, perhaps to such an extent that many of us feel inclined to censor or even silence her. Her brutal and unfiltered honesty is what identifies her as crude, aggressive and even vulgar, but it is this raw candidness that I admire her for. Unlike many other celebrities, Cardi is as open as they come and doesn’t feel the need to mislead the public with militarily strategized PR crusades. The rapper doesn’t hide facts about herself or shy away from expressing her opinions, regardless of the impact it could have on her career. She has spoken out about her heavily criticised work as a stripper, explaining how it gave her independence from men and the means to escape from an abusive relationship. She advocates emphatically for the latter, providing our generation with a much needed public narrative of empowerment and success.
Likewise, Cardi B has beaten the odds in her rise to fame. Having grown up in the Bronx and labelled as ‘ghetto’, like so many other young Americans, Cardi B’s prospects were substantially reduced in comparison to those my contemporaries take for granted. Although it may be largely unspoken, there undoubtedly exists a bias against people from this background, with a preference towards more socially accepted dialect, appearance and behaviour. The fact that Cardi was born and raised in the Bronx is both something Cardi did not chose nor something to be ashamed of. The only shame is rooted in the continual presence of socioeconomic division and the infamous one percent. Cardi’s background should not be criticised but instead appreciated. It is her childhood and culture that have moulded her into a talented rapper and fierce businesswoman, driving her to work harder and more resiliently than many others.
Cardi B may, on first appearances, be easily condemned. However, when you dig a little bit deeper you uncover so many admirable and inspirational qualities. She reminds me to be open and honest, to accept and be proud of myself and to be relentless in my pursuit of success, empowerment and self-acceptance. While there may be some blindingly obvious differences between the two of us, there is so much I have learned from her career and personal life, demonstrating how people worlds apart can be fundamentally unified. Most importantly, Cardi B has shown me and the rest of the world that no matter where you come from, it really is possible to get a bag, fix your teeth and buy some bloody shoes.