Nicki Minaj isn’t shy about showing off her assets. If her derriere were included in a police lineup, a lot of hip-hop fans would have no problem identifying the “pink princess’s” posterior. It’s almost as famous as her latest single—if not more so. Can you name it? The track, not her rump?
Having reached a certain level of celebrity, Minaj was recently honored with a statue at the Las Vegas venue of the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum. Apparently realizing that some know her as much for her looks as for her lyrics, the museum opted to pose the Minaj figure in a way that almost leveled her face with her fanny.
With the figure bent down on all fours with its back arched, in an attempt to re-create a scene from Minaj’s “Anaconda” music video, the rapper’s scantily clad wax butt sticks up in the air just a few inches lower than her face. Which, again, raises the question: “What is Minaj’s real claim to fame?”
In the museum’s defense, Minaj is not the only pop star it has bent over into a crawling pose. Singer Kylie Minogue received a similar treatment from Madame Tussauds. While that might silence the masses who wonder whether the positioning of Minaj’s statue is racist—depicting a successful black woman as little more than a sex object, and choosing to highlight her body over her accomplishments—there’s little doubt about the display’s poor taste. Indeed, the tackiness and impropriety seem to transcend race.
However, as with most depictions of minority-group members, the problem isn’t just that we’re shown in an unflattering light by the media and large institutions. The issue is that there’s far less balance, with fewer examples of positive alternatives to counter the negative images.
In response to the many photos of museum patrons—both men and women—pretending to lick, toss dollars at, grope and penetrate the object, Madame Tussauds announced that it would increase security around the figure and redesign the nearby area, making it more difficult for visitors to mount the statue.
Before the photos emerged, rapper Azealia Banks predicted the fate of the figure, realizing that it would encourage some improper posing by fans. “All ppl are gonna do is go up to that statue and take pictures shoving their crotch in her face and putting their crotch on her butt,” Banks tweeted more than a week ago.
The museum hasn’t yet revealed any plans to rework the actual statue. Madame Tussauds hasn’t offered to create an upright Minaj tribute that features her with an armful of music trophies, like the Britney Spears wax figure. Instead, it only explained why that particular pose was chosen.
“We made the decision to celebrate Minaj’s unforgettable pose inspired by the ‘Anaconda’ video because—thanks to her artistry and charisma—it resulted as one of the most iconic videos ever produced,” Madame Tussauds said in a statement to The Fader. “The pose itself recreates an image Minaj published on her own social media channels as a teaser for the video. As with all people we immortalize in our attractions, her representatives were kept informed every step of the way during the figure-creation process and, once it was unveiled, Minaj herself repeatedly expressed her love of the figure on social media, calling the display ‘so iconic’ and indicating her desire to come see it in person.”
Therein lies the issue. As offended as many are by the posing of the statue and the lewdness that followed, there doesn’t seem to be any outrage from Minaj. What no one can reasonably deny is that Minaj distributed that image, along with others that seemed to focus on her booty, while promoting her “Anaconda” track.
Few will know for sure how much control Minaj has over her public image, since record labels and “representatives” often influence artists’ decisions, but she seemingly embraces, encourages and appreciates the attention her physique receives. Madame Tussauds may have exploited Minaj’s image, but many would argue that Minaj did it first. She has played a part, willingly or unwillingly, in turning herself into a sex object. So, are ignorant fans or Madame Tussauds at fault for following that lead?
Some may find Minaj’s sexy persona empowering, reasoning that she’s taking control of her sexuality and how it is portrayed to the public. However, when the public responds by figuratively bending you over, maybe you have lost control.