Armless Barbie

Posted October 18th, 2010 by Anthony

Nicki Minaj's new album Pink Friday

Nicki Minaj's new album Pink Friday

In today’s entries to the Disability in the Humanities listserv, DS-HUM, there was a discussion of a new album cover of Nikki Minaj. I couldn’t resist opining:
It looks like the Pink Friday album cover is a continuation of Nikki Minaj’s redefinition and playing with the images of women rappers. From a quick reading of Wikipedia and scanning images of her she is trying to create a pointed, yet ambiguous, visual image (not unlike Lady Gaga). Minaj has used Barbie as a jumping off place. I can’t think of a more freighted image than Barbie.

The Pink Friday cover showing the Barbie without arms is unsettling by its implicit reference to the discarded, mistreated, armless, legless, and/or headless dolls many of us have seen in a pile of discarded toys. What was once beyond perfection (Barbie) became a busty piece of plastic-idylic childhood becomes complex, troubled adulthood. Tied to that creepy image of the discarded doll is now the somewhat real life, armless Minaj. We can’t but think amputation, disability. It makes for a great, confounding, resonant image. Whether or not it redefines women in rap is for someone else to answer.


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