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No-One On The Corner Has Swagger Like Us; Nor Are They As Pregnant: A Post About Celebrity Fashion

Here we are, folks, deep in the heart of February. Its cruel torments continue unabated; even the weather – the fabulous springlike weather, the golden sunbeams and fair breezes that have imbued me with an irrational conviction that cartoon birds are about to swoop down onto my shoulder and start chirping merrily at my face – feels like a tease, the Good Cop that tells you to relax and that he wants to help you right before Bad Cop starts yelling.

One side effect of February is that I cannot find anything to say! This whole “writing” thing, this process whereby one arranges words into a rational order, punctuated with, I don’t know, colons or something: whatever. Why bother?

But wait, did you hear that M.I.A. wore a dress?

Yes! A dress! You can find a photo of it right here, in this very blog post! It looks kind of crazy, just like everything else M.I.A. has ever worn, ever. Yet this dress: it is different. It is important. For, you see, M.I.A. is totally prego (or was, when she wore it – probably she has a baby now) and is therefore called upon to represent the sacredness of motherhood in all she does. What does this dress mean for the delicate flower of woman’s virtue?

#1. The Old People

You can find one answer at Slate’s XX blog, where someone’s cranky grandma broke in and started posting under the name of “Marjorie Valbrun“:

The imagery of a scantily-clad, or should I say scandalously-clad, pregnant young women dancing on stage with a bunch of male rappers whose rhymes sometimes debase women, was just too much for me. And don’t even get me started on what this cringe-worthy antic might say to impressionable teenage girl fans… someone, anyone, should have pulled her aside before she went on stage and simply said NO! You can’t wear that outfit. Please don’t wear that outfit. If she has a fashion consultant that person should be promptly fired and run out of town. The British designer who came up with the polka-dotted creation should be fired too… I’d still rather [be torn apart by wolves or something, essentially] than see my half-dressed mother dancing onstage before a television audience of millions, while carrying me in her womb no less, acting like she has no sense.

Then all the other ladies on the blog started yelling at Marjorie Valbrun, like, “Grandma! No! Don’t you know not to post without your medicine? President Hoover is not even alive any more, Grandma, he can’t answer your letters,” and she drew upon all the strength in her nine-thousand-year-old bones, and retorted, like so:

I don’t think dressing in clothing—pregnant or not—that leaves little to the imagination is empowering or radically feminist… She would have been just as effective performing with those men while wearing a suit—albeit a suit that proudly accommodates the protruding stomach—and even more so a dress.

“Something modest, with a nice high neckline, that makes her look like a young lady, and why are all these young girls showing off their ankles these days? In my day, we made a man work for it,” Marjorie Valbrun did not add.

#2. The Slightly Less Old People

Over at Hipster Runoff, meanwhile, there is a hilarious assortment of jokes about domestic violence and (the female half of) the cast of “He’s Just Not That Into You” being skanks who should be the targets of domestic violence (hahaha, “Chris Brown’s Pimp Hand,” ohhhh, that’s a good one, did you hear he choked his girlfriend until she lost consciousness and there was a 911 call that was basically just the sound of her screaming for her life? “Chris Brown’s Pimp Hand”! Because he’s black, like a pimp would be, and beats women! Ha!) and oh! The dress! On M.I.A., and also on a younger, skinnier, white, non-pregnant model. Twice. Which one looks better, yall? Could it be the person who conforms in every way to our currently accepted beauty standard?

Now, Carles might be satirizing racism and sexism; he might be satirizing the way white kids pat themselves on the back for liking M.I.A. because she’s brown and cool, just like their brown friends would be if they had any; he might just be upset because M.I.A. criticizes American imperialism and capitalism while taking money from enormous corporations, and might therefore feel the need to make fun of anything or everything about her. Who knows? One of my fondest dreams is that the ever-mysterious Carles will turn out to be an Asian (or “AZN“) woman who is running this shit up the flagpole as a demonstration of how certain kids will just embrace racism and sexism uncritically if it’s positioned as “ironic” and cool, but I have a little less faith in that than I used to; Carles the writer, via “Carles” the character, just satirizes everything and refuses to give a shit about anything, and is just as likely to make a racist or sexist joke as he is to make a joke about racism or sexism, which, if my life experience is any indicator, is just the last resort of someone determined to be cool at any cost. If you believe in something whole-heartedly, regardless of whether or not it’s in style, someone is eventually going to laugh at you; if you can’t deal with being laughed at, the logical next step is to give up your beliefs. You know, sell out. If, that is, you had anything to sell in the first place – if you aren’t just dealing more played-out Gavin McInnes bullshit, more “outrageous” racist sexist gay jokes from a (probably) straight white boy who can afford to be tickled by these incredibly hurtful and scary and potentially lethal things because racism and sexism and the oppression of gay people actually benefit him in every possible way.

On that tip: hey, here’s an awesomely post-racial, post-gender, post-it’s-not-cool-to-use-“faggot”-as-an-insult commenter!

hate entry level rihanna wanabes… who said she was alt? its almost the same as all the kanye peen suckers on his blog who praise him for finding shit on they will soon be on their way here large influx of kanyefggts and rihannawhores.. atleast the rihannawhores while know how to take a beating.

Yep, someone liking overtly commercial music and subsequently finding out about a website you like: way more troubling than domestic violence. Thank God he gets the satire! But what does this mean for M.I.A.’s dress?

#3. The Me People

Allow me to begin by dropping some knowledge on your face. M.I.A. is (a) a woman, (b) a South Asian woman, (c) a South Asian woman who is a celebrity, and (d) a famous South Asian woman who is pregnant and/or someone’s mom. Basically, all of these things mean that her body is constantly subject to criticism and comment from people she may or may not give a shit about! Including me.

Here is how that plays out, inevitably, not just for M.I.A. but for anyone who is anywhere near her position: while some douchebags are carping about how she’s sexualizing herself (which women, and especially women of color, are constantly told is the worst imaginable sin) and, even worse, sexualizing herself while pregnant (because pregnant women should never be seen as sexual, because pregnancy is in no way the result of sexual attraction or actual fucking; babies happen because God whispers happy thoughts into your vagina), still other douchebags are complaining about how she’s not sexualizing herself enough, how female celebrities should be fuckable but they don’t necessarily want to fuck her because she’s fat and not blonde and preggers and runs off at the mouth, and couldn’t she do something about that? This would be a good starting point for a conversation about conflicting expectations placed on ladies and how no-one can ever fulfill them! But whatever, that’s beside the point: all anyone wants to do is talk about her body.

So, while we’re all talking about M.I.A.’s pregnant body – and we have been for months, Jesus – she shows up, at a big fancy party, with pretty much all of it on display. Do you think she doesn’t know how to work the Google? Do you think she doesn’t get that we’re talking about it, that people are maybe more interested in her pregnancy than in her actual work? I am not a person who gets worked up about outfits – I barely know how to dress myself – but the dress, for whatever reason, made me laugh, because it was a big black-and-white polka-dotted Fuck You. There are big circular targets over her boobs and belly, for Christ’s sake. How do you not get that particular joke?

Yes, she still looks like M.I.A. – that is, totally crazy all the time – even while pregnant, and still does M.I.A. stuff like singing songs, and you know what? Great. Paying too much attention to celebrities is stupid, but while the culture at large is doing that, I like to know that at least one famous woman is not going all doe-eyed and demure and personality-free the instant a sperm hits one of her eggs. I hope she sells the baby pictures for ninety-seven million dollars and when they come out she and the kid are both dressed like neon-pink koala bears. That would be super.

So, yeah: if you can’t deal with a pregnant woman wearing a dress you did not personally choose, or with the fact that some people at the Grammys might actually be engaging in promotional activity intended to sell music (!!!) or with the fact that people, on the whole, become celebrities by showing up places and acting and/or looking wacky enough to notice, I have a solution: don’t watch the Grammys. Because, for Christ’s sake, this time next year I will be exactly this cranky, and exactly this prone to nonsensical tirades, and the last thing I want is for the news coverage to be dominated by another fucking dress.


  1. Eleniel wrote:

    “because it was a big black-and-white polka-dotted Fuck You”

    Yes! And that’s why I loved it. She’s amazing, it cannot be said enough.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  2. Colleen wrote:

    I hope she sells the baby pictures for ninety-seven million dollars and when they come out she and the kid are both dressed like neon-pink koala bears.

    This is not a thing I hoped for before but it totally is now.

    Friday, February 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  3. Rachael wrote:

    I love the kinds of outfits people wear at these events.

    Wow, those “Hipster Runoff” blog entries and comments were almost unreadable. The lack of spelling and punctuation was almost as bad as the racism and jokes about domestic violence.

    I don’t even know who M.I.A. is (!), but I still respect her for wearing that dress. I think it’s awesome.

    Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  4. Goodmorning
    awesome post – i’m creating video about it and i will post it to youtube !
    if you wana to help or just need a link send me email !

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink