For anyone in the '80s who wanted to examine colorism, "good hair," and beauty, there was no need to look any deeper than Prince. Before hip hop videos hit their stride of celebrating a lighter-skinned, long-and-curly-haired ideal, a little man from Minneapolis gave the world Vanity, Apollonia, and Sheila E and told us they were sexy. Some he dated, others he didn't, but all dotted his lacey, purple-y paradise like lingerie-clad examples of hot femaledom. Paper-bag test aside, apparently the only relaxer allowed in Prince World was his own.
Fast-forward to the opening acts at the string of dates he recently played in New York, including Janelle Monae, Sharon Jones (with the Dap Kings), and Cassandra Wilson. There's also his three female backup singers, including Shelby J, who is bald, brown, curvy (in the way real women and not size-six celebrities are), and a badass who holds her own vocally against Prince. Today there was the news that Esperanza Spalding, Grammy winner for Best New Artist and the only natural-haired black woman onstage at the awards, will soon be touring with Prince. Which all makes one thing clear: In a record industry that doesn't just celebrate the half-naked, the overly sexual, the young, the skinny, and the long-, straight- haired, but seems to demand them, Prince has recently and consistently been showcasing women who aren't focused on that. How did the ruffle-shirted musician get so far from his "Nasty Girl" roots? Not sure, but can the rest of the music industry please catch up?
Image: Frank Micelotta / PictureGroup