The MTV VMAs last night were filled with messages of equality, acceptance, transcendence, and personal power, but Pink’s Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech, in which she shared how she helped her daughter, Willow, to see a different side of herself, stood out.
When Willow came home from school one day and told her mom that she was “ugly” because she “looked like a boy,” Pink set about showing her daughter androgynous artists such as George Michael, Annie Lennox, and David Bowie. Pink told her daughter that these were “artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their lives, and carry on, wave their flag, and inspire the rest of us.”
Using her own examples of people bullying her over her looks, Pink continued, “When people make fun of me, that’s what they use: They say that I look like a boy, or I am too masculine, too many opinions, my body is too strong. And I said to her, ‘Do you see me growing my hair? Do you see me changing my body? Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world? And do you see me selling out arenas all over the world? So, baby girl, we don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl.’”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Pink has said something amazing, empowering, and all-out badass about being an individual in a world that wants you to be anything but. Here are five other instances:
1. When she revealed her wish for her daughter.
2013 was a banner year for Pink, and Billboard recognized it by honoring her as Woman of the Year at its annual Women in Music event in December 2013. At the luncheon in New York, Pink was candid about being terrible with public speaking and cracked some jokes about how, a year after she gave a speech while accepting the Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal, the Grammys axed the category. (“Billboard, if this speech sucks, please wait one year,” she teased. “If you’re thinking of not doing this again, so it’s not my fault.”) But it was what she said to the women and girls of the world that hit home.
“I’m grateful if I’ve kept one girl from feeling different or ugly or unempowered,” Pink said early on. Later, she added, “Here’s what I wish. I wish that girls embraced their power and their worth and their value in their youth, and not sell it or barter it for anything and have to buy it back later in life. I wish for my daughter to grow up in a world where wonderful publications celebrate them for their originality, their individuality, their willingness to be true to themselves, and the courage to be scary and emotional to get s*** done. I wish for women to stop apologizing for those very things that make us women.”
Of course, Pink couldn’t close out her speech on a serious note. So she closed with her hope for her future as a “crazy-ass grandma”: “I will have blue highlights, I will have f***-me heels, a really nice glass of wine that I made in my hand, and I will tell anyone that will listen to how a smartass from Doylestown, Pa., told everyone she was gonna be a star and then Billboard f***ing magazine made me their Woman of the Year.”
2. When she talked about what makes her feel beautiful.
Pink’s February 2013 interview with Redbook is a treasure trove of notable quotes, including her recollection of rekindling her romance with her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart. After an 11-month hiatus, Hart invited Pink to perform at his club on New Year’s Eve, and Pink showed up looking hot. She did the show, asked Hart back to her room, and showed him a photo album of all the cards he’d given her over the years, as well as a rather gory depiction of herself from a bad movie in which her neck was slit, saying, “This is me without you.” And she did this all while wearing his favorite bra and panties but refused to sleep with him that night when he said he wanted to get back together. Boss.
Still, it was what the songstress said about her new-at-the-time CoverGirl contract that’s both empowering and touching. On the heels of a No. 1 album, a kid, and an awesome marriage, Pink was feeling awkward about the whole thing, saying, “It’s good that a girl like me can get a beauty contract.”
When pressed to explain what she meant, Pink said, “Well, I was always considered butch. So a ‘girl like me’ is someone who doesn’t rest on her looks, who has had people tell me from day one, ‘You’re never going to get magazine covers because you’re not pretty enough.’ I’m totally comfortable with that. I know my strong points: I work hard, I have talent, I’m funny, and I’m a good person.”
So what does beautiful mean to her? It’s simple: when she’s fit and healthy. She joked about having OK skin and sort-of-white teeth, but she admitted that hanging upside down onstage — as she’d been doing so many aero-acrobatics in her performances — made her feel beautiful.
“Hanging upside down and being physical makes me feel beautiful,” she said. “Feeling beautiful to me is when I feel good in my leather pants and my husband grabs my ass. Or when I’m sitting on a mat and my daughter runs to me with complete joy. Beautiful has never been my goal. Joy is my goal — to feel healthy and strong and powerful and useful and engaged and intelligent and in love. It’s about joy. And there’s such joy now.”
3. When she said she wanted to redefine the term “slut.”
Pink’s June 2013 cover story for Glamour magazine also touched on some entertaining moments from her past, like when she toilet-papered 98 Degrees’ bus while on tour with them and NSync (and the time that Joey Fatone took her out on a date). But when she was asked about the songs on her record that deal with female sexuality and “slut” behavior, Pink was sharply candid about the inspiration — and her desire to change the meaning of the word.
“Oh, yeah. I’m a reformed slut,” she said. “It’s my very unsophisticated way of taking the power back. I’ve always had an issue with [the idea that]: ‘OK, we’ve both decided to do this. Why am I a slut and you’re the player? You didn’t get anything from me that I didn’t get from you.’”
Also awesome? Pink’s view of motherhood at the time. With her daughter, Willow, just a year old, Pink admitted that she wasn’t as fearless as she seemed. “Every time she bounces on the bed, I see stitches. Being a parent is a Jedi mind f***. It’s also the raddest thing ever.”
4. When she bashed “regular standards” for weight.
After the birth of her son, Jameson Moon, Pink decided to hit the gym just six weeks later — and she was open about wanting to get back into shape. She posted a selfie with her trainer, Jeanette Jenkins, proudly proclaiming that she hadn’t lost any weight in the six weeks since giving birth, adding, “Yay me! I’m normal!” But it was a sweaty selfie posted later that really garnered attention.
“Would you believe I’m 160 pounds and 5‘3“? By ‘regular standards’ that makes me obese,” she wrote. “I know I’m not at my goal or anywhere near it after Baby 2 but dammit I don’t feel obese. The only thing I’m feeling is myself. Stay off that scale ladies! #feelingmyself #strongismygoal #bodygoals #happysaturday #getitin #GIJaneismyWCW.”
5. When she blogged about the impetus behind her single “F***in’ Perfect.”
When Pink’s single “F***in’ Perfect,” came out in 2010 as part of her greatest hits album, the accompanying video was both celebrated and lambasted for showing graphic depictions of cutting and depression. But, as always, Pink was exceptionally vocal about the subject — and why those depictions were important.
“Cutting, and suicide, two very different symptoms of the same problem, are gaining on us,” she blogged. “A lot of us have seen certain starlets showing off their latest scars on a red carpet somewhere, usually right before they head back to their favorite rehab. … It’s a problem, and it’s something we should talk about.”
She then added, “You can’t move mountains by whispering at them.”
She continued, “We can choose to ignore the problem, and therefore ignore this video, but that won’t make it go away. … I don’t support or encourage suicide or cutting. I support the kids out there that feel so desperate/numb/powerless, that feel unseen and unheard, and can’t see another way. … I want them to know I’m aware. I have been there. I see them. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”
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