Rapper Ice Spice, also known as Isis Naija Gaston, is a certified gen Z bombshell. There is no arguing that. With her signature orange afro, daring clothes and impressive vocals, the 23-year-old has danced, or twerked herself, into the hearts of an entire generation. However, even with all her popularity and accolades, Ice Spice isn’t immune to the scrutiny and misogyny that comes with being a woman in the public spotlight. So it’s no surprise that the artist is facing online hate for a makeup-free selfie.
In this candid snapshot, Ice Spice can be seen taking a selfie while wearing a tank top, a light pink wig and—god forbid—no makeup.
The photo went viral almost immediately after it was posted and it triggered an onslaught of racist and misogynistic comments about the bi-racial singer’s appearance.
“Na from start I know say she mid,” one X user commented. Mid is a term used in internet culture to refer to something mediocre. In incel culture, it is also frequently used to put women down. “Still better than 80% of Nigerian girls,” another user noted in a comment that almost impressively manages to be both sexist and racist… “Aliens are real,” someone else added, insinuating that a woman without makeup is something otherworldly.
It goes without saying that these unsolicited remarks about a young woman’s looks are not only inappropriate but also dehumanising. Reducing women to their appearance perpetuates an age-old patriarchal practice. It reduces them to objects that have nothing worthwhile to offer other than gratification for other people.
After a while, this criticism also wasn’t limited to Ice Spice anymore. Users posted makeup-less images of stars like Cardi B to make a similar point. “Why u think offset left?” one user captioned the makeup-free image of Cardi. “This, and she’s a mom who loves twerking,” he noted, adding a hint of good old-fashioned slut shaming.
In the comments section under the posts, other users seemed to agree with the points being made, further highlighting how women’s bodies will always be a social and cultural battleground. This sort of online vitriol is also reminiscent of the criticism Doja Cat faced in 2022 when she shaved her head and her eyebrows. The singer and rapper has since explained that she decided to go bald because her hair was preventing her from doing strenuous workouts. “I’d be working out, but I couldn’t focus because I was more concerned with how I looked and how my hair was doing,” said the singer.
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Despite this, fans quickly started to ridicule her new look, suggesting that she looked ugly. In a now-deleted response on X, the singer began by acknowledging her achievements as an artist, before claiming that those who have criticised her hairstyle are only concerned with her being attractive sexually.
“I won a Grammy and travelled the f*cking globe, I’ve had a #1 and I went platinum. I make hit after hit after hit and you all want me to look f*ckable for you… Go f*ck yourselves,” she responded.
This post is very representative of the anger and frustration that women feel over the sexist double standards that are applied to their appearance. When Harry Styles shaved his head, his fans responded with sadness and confusion, not with anger and aggression. This type of response seems to be reserved for women.
Of course, Ice Spice’s fandom was having none of it. They quickly jumped to defend their idol and proclaimed that she was just as beautiful and attractive without makeup as she is with it.
Nevertheless, a lot of these respondents were still frustrated to see the age-old misogynistic tropes and double standards that are rolled out every single time a woman switches things up. Can I also please remind you that going makeup free should not be classified as an act of defiance? How are women still being viewed through such a limiting scope?