Remember when you were a kid, and your elders told you “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Apparently, a few writers for some of the world’s most illustrious publications didn’t get that memo, as each got the New Year’s reckoning they deserved after commenting on the evolving beauty of Blue Ivy Carter. Specifically, the soon-to-be-8-year-old posed for both a Carter family portrait, wearing mommy-and-me braids with Beyoncé, and again with Bey and breakout star Megan Thee Stallion to celebrate the start of the new decade.
While we were marveling at how quickly our (collectively recognized) little girl is growing up—not to mention the holiday surprise of a rare blowout on Blue—Vanity Fair film critic K. Austin Collins had a different take, as reported by Page Six.
“I have a feeling the jay z face genes are about to really hit Blue Ivy and I feel so sorry for her,” Collins, a black man, wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
Clearly oblivious to the profound inappropriateness of criticizing a child’s looks—we mentioned Blue’s not even 8 yet, right?—Collins’s quip was quickly co-signed by Harper’s Web Editor Violet Lucca (who, at first glance, appears to be a white woman), who doubled down on the insult by responding:
“Or she’ll just get plastic surgery at 16 a la Kylie Jenner and we’ll all have to pretend that she always looked that way…I can’t allow myself to feel too sorry for the incredibly rich!”
Can you allow yourself to feel sorry for the incredibly insensitive? Because I do.
Lucca also wisely deleted her tweet, but only after she and Collins engaged in what both undoubtedly (and mistakenly) believed to be a cute back-and-forth—before being rightly and roundly dragged for daring to comment on a child’s looks. Recognizing the offense (however belatedly), Collins acknowledged his poor judgment (because not all opinions are meant to shared, Folks), tweeting:
“I’m sorry about the Blue Ivy tweet—bad joke, and black girls in particular deserve better.”
Oh, you don’t say? To Collins’ point, black girls face enough criticism and vitriol from the world at large, but no child’s looks should be the butt of a joke. (And whatever opinions one may have about Jay-Z’s attractiveness, it’s not really anyone’s business either, as Beyoncé made perfectly clear in “Formation.”)
Unsurprisingly, Black Twitter wasn’t here for Collins’ contrition.
According to Page Six, Collins responded to at least one commenter, writing, “No, you’re right. Poor form on my end. Thanks all for calling it out.”
Lucca also eventually addressed the issue, though somehow managing to position herself in the role of victim as she wrote in response to another user: “Sorry I was cleaning my apartment while this blew up...children of famous ought to be off limits, but time and again they haven’t been. So I said something petty and have been called ugly, old, and a racist.”
I mean, the internet can be a very ugly place...but this sounds like a classic case of “don’t start none, won’t be none,” to me.
But Blue Ivy wasn’t the only well-known figure to be attacked over a holiday generally believed to be about fresh starts and better behavior. Singer-songwriter Ari Lennox found herself on the defensive after a Twitter user questionably named “King Kwasii” gave his unasked-for opinion on her looks, comparing her and fellow artist Teyana Taylor to “Rottweilers.”
Seriously, whose “King” is this, exactly?
Understandably, Lennox was hurt and angered by the comment and was prompted to violate the general “don’t feed the trolls” policy to offer and emotional and teachable moment about the treatment of black women.
“Why are you so comfortable tearing down black women, and no other race?” she asked.
Kwasii (because we refuse to call any man who talk about women this way “King”—especially a black man speaking on black women) also got his fair share of clapbacks from those equally disturbed by his tweet.
But really? If all of these unsolicited commenters had made a New Year’s resolution to mind their own damned business—and bodies—we wouldn’t be sitting here wondering why the hell we’re starting the new
year decade with the lingering taste of anti-blackness and misogynoir in our mouths. Can’t we collectively agree to do better this decade?