THE GENDER DIVIDE

We are surrounded by stereotypes every day of our lives. You can see this on TV portrayed in sitcoms or that funny movie you watched, but it’s not such a joke when stereotypes are the only thing that can lead you to rags or riches. In the music industry, fashion plays a huge part of a bigger picture. An artist’s fashion can determine their success as a singer or songwriter, leading their work to become a viral hit or fall into the bottomless pit of iTunes charts. The main issue is that certain genres have fostered specific stereotypes and expectations, in terms of fashion, to express themselves the “right” way. Oftentimes, the main target of these stereotypes is women, especially women of colour. The hip-hop genre is a huge ringer for this.We see so many artists who claim to be apart of this genre, to be deemed as “cool” or “swagged out”, rocking chains and diamonds. Who blames them? Most of the songs talk about how balling these artists are and ultimately how great it is to live in a pool of money.

The concern is that a lot of women in this industry are seen to be sporting a rather specific style of clothing

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These three, gorgeous women emulate that style of revealing and tight-fitted clothing. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these outfits as these women rock their individual styles and look confident and great. As long as their fashion choices are ultimately their own choices, there is no problem. However, the issue lies in the fact that women who choose to not follow this specific look which has been associated with rap and hip-hop experience a harder time seeing very many zeroes at the end of their pay cheques.  

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This is clearly illustrated in Alicia Key’s movement for self-love and simplicity. Notice Alicia Keyes’ bare face and natural hair. Alicia Keyes has done extremely well on the charts in the past but as she stripped down the attention from her fashion and appearance to focus more on her inner self, she released a less viral album called “Here”. Her songs spoke about the pressures of society to dress or look a certain way. This appealed to audiences on the first week of the release but slowly the fame died down, as hers wasn’t the trendiest approach to style.

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Chance the Rapper, who is highly respected for his musical art pieces, isn’t really critiqued on his sense of style nor is his views on fashion been a huge factor in determining his success with music. Just look at this Billboard photoshoot, where he’s seen wearing a neutral, more conservative style of clothing.

Cute right? Not as flashy as Nicki Minaj’s art pieces - especially in comparison to her Anaconda cover art. There’s a clear difference between the type of image male rappers are afforded to show versus female.

While Eminem is seen wearing a baggy shirt and jeans, Lil Kim is seen in fitted body suits and glittery tights. Why do these patterns become the following trend? Why are these fashion choices seen as an expectation in the rap and hip-hop industry? What happened to self-expression through wearing anything you want? 

Alicia Keys is a start, but other female artists shouldn’t feel the need to censor their fashion choices either if that is what represents them best. Fashion is a beautiful art form that has limitless possibilities, so why should music not apply the same principles? 

By: Simran Gill

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