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30: Ice Spice

Photo By Trinecia Amor

 

“And The Body Gon ’Eat, Bon Appetit...”

The social media age of music is upon us; platforms now have a significant impact on how music is created, consumed, and promoted. This has encouraged budding artists to seek fame and fortune in the digital space with strategies based around their self-expression, obtaining global reach through their cults and stans. It has transformed the way the music industry operates.

Many stars have found their footing through the digital, social spaces we are familiar with. Heavy hitters like Justin Bieber and The Weeknd, while not solely dependent on it, are now household names. More recently, Mimi Webb and Troye Sivan are examples of artists whose music is almost second fiddle, arguably even a by-product of their online footprints. Through the power of the internet, these artists can convey and project whatever ideals, opinions, values - and eventually, music - they hold dear, and there will always be recipients, young or old, wise, and naïve. It’s a dangerous precedent, especially with young people, many of whom are attached to validation and attention, genuflecting to whichever personality has the most clout or power, per se.

In the contemporary music landscape, rising star Ice Spice has captured the hearts of millions with her infectious tunes and hyper-feminine image. While she has been celebrated as the "Princess Diana" of Hip-Hop, it is essential to critically examine the impact of her persona and her craft on the movement on young women and as a whole, whilst not ignoring the role of the aforementioned online forces and concepts at play too.

Born Isis Gaston, on 1st January 2000 in the Bronx, she would gain influence for her future career from her father, who was an underground rapper himself and an avid Hip Hop enthusiast. Ironically, she states that he helped shape her identity and sound, through advice to be bold and distinctive. She has quickly become one of the most popular artists on TikTok, with her songs racking up millions of views. Her unique sound and catchy bars have made her notorious. She started writing lyrics during High School and College, where she met with record producer RiotUSA, while she was attending State University of New York at Purchase. In August 2022, Ice Spice released her song "Munch (Feelin' U)." The song was an immediate hit, spread quickly across TikTok. TikTok creators loved using the song to show themselves feeling themselves, and "Munch" quickly became part of the Tik Tok lexicon. Earlier this year, she released a new single "In Ha Mood," another viral hit. A remix of the song was made by user @1.love.maryjane, and it quickly went viral. Among TikTok's top songs, "In Ha Mood" has been viewed over 4.9 billion times.

A number of the biggest names in the music industry have now worked with Ice Spice in the aftermath of her explosion into the mainstream. Among her recent collaborations are a remix of her song "Boy's a Liar" with PinkPantherss, and a feature on her mentor Nicki Minaj's "Barbie World."These collaborations have helped cement Ice Spice's emerging star status. Her debut EP “Like…?”, released in the beginning of the year, shows her in all her glory.

Cover Art for Ice Spice's "Like...?"

Ice Spice has become an inspiration to many young people. She is proof that you can achieve your dreams if you work hard and stay true to yourself. She is also a role model for women, which is where this issue starts to rear its head. With great success comes great accountability. It can’t be argued that she has massive influence, and her fame is inadvertently contributing to the invalidation of women. Her appeal lies in her unabashed celebration of hyper-femininity, which resonates with the social media audience today.

“She Keep On Starin’ ‘Cause Shorty A Fan...”

Bimbocore is a aesthetic centred around pink and glitter photography, old 2000s photos and hyper pop; sometimes rock or punk music with bad girl theme and pink things. The fashion style specifically is centred around body positivity for women, sexuality, and pink, doll-like charm. By embracing hotness and weaponizing incompetence, this niche challenges the idea that caring too much about your looks minimizes your intelligence. As part of its satirical nature, Bimbocore stylistically draws heavily on the contemporary resurgence of the Y2K generation.

By conveying the surface level label of "bimbo", Ice Spice inadvertently perpetuates a concept historically rooted in sexism and objectification of women. It has been weaponized to diminish women's worth and champions harmful stereotypes about their abilities and character. While Ice Spice and others Bimbocore flag-bearers may attempt to reclaim the term and package themselves in an artistically quirky and abstract manner, it is essential to recognize that the underlying connotations cannot be easily erased. By encouraging the use of such a label, even in a supposedly juxtaposing, and witty context, there is a risk of normalizing harmful language that promotes the continued degradation of women based on their appearance and behaviour. This concept presents a troubling contradiction. On one hand, it claims to empower women to entwine their femininity without shame, challenging traditional norms that have long suppressed women's self-expression. However, it does so by adopting a label that has historically been used to undermine and dismiss women, especially those who express their femininity openly. This paradox raises questions about the true impact of Bimbocore on female ascension, and perhaps raises questions about labels’ agendas for their artists and fans (customers) going forward. While it may offer some a sense of liberation from societal expectations, it also runs the risk of reinforcing harmful and limiting beliefs about women. By associating empowerment with a term that has been weaponized to undermine women, there is a danger of normalising a shallow and superficial understanding of what it means to be empowered. Furthermore, the use of the term "bimbo" within Bimbocore also raises concerns about the intersectionality of this subculture.

Embracing hyper-femininity and challenging traditional norms of beauty is undoubtedly a positive step toward empowering women. However, it is important to recognize that such expressions may not be universally accessible or applicable to all women. The western world is obviously a cultural and societal leader on the geo-political stage, but they are not the source of truth by default. The bimbo concept and its associated aesthetics may inadvertently exclude those who do not fit within narrow beauty standards or do not feel comfortable being involved in the hyper-femininity space. This exclusionary aspect of Bimbocore highlights the need for a more inclusive and diverse approach , one that clinches and celebrates women of all backgrounds, body types, and identities. In a society where women continue to face perceived barriers, the concept of empowerment becomes even more critical. Those blurred lines that may indeed build somebody like Ice Spice up, can be the same force that causes her downfall if she (or her team) or not careful and astute with the path they chose to take for her career.

It therefore becomes essential for artists like Ice Spice to be conscious of the language they use and the impact it may have on their audience, particularly young and impressionable fans. The movement should transcend surface-level aesthetics and catchy slogans. It should be rooted in a deep and meaningful celebration of women's intelligence, accomplishments, and individuality. Encouraging women to embrace their femininity is commendable, but it must go hand in hand with a broader understanding that addresses systemic issues and promotes genuine equality.

While Ice Spice's rise to fame is undeniable, one has to be objective and critically examine the impact of her music and image on the female empowerment movement. Embracing Bimbocore aesthetics and personas may inadvertently contribute to the degradation of women by perpetuating harmful stereotypes and reinforcing problematic beauty standards. As artists with significant influence, it is crucial for Ice Spice and others like her to be mindful of the messages they convey to young audiences. True approval lies in celebrating diversity, intelligence, and uniqueness, rather than conforming to societal expectations of femininity. In the pursuit of authenticity, artists can be champions for the masses of fans, inspiring young girls to seize their worth beyond surface appearances. By navigating the complexities of their influence responsibly, they can lead the way to a more inclusive and equal future, where women can be celebrated for their accomplishments, intelligence, and individuality.

Written by: @Arriv3r

Edited by: @Whosaria

 

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