Two recent celebrity incidents have gained significant scrutiny in the media. These were the highly charged outbursts of Cardi B and the less violent dispute involving Serena Williams. Cardi B’s shoe throwing at Nicki Minaj at a Harper’s Bazaar party during New York Fashion Week received several complaints. Her behaviour was condemned for setting a bad example for her younger fans, but I can’t help thinking that maybe the parents of these fans should consider an alternative icon for their children. Unsurprisingly, this indignation reared its head in her Instagram comments – a particularly pathologizing remark called her “crazy”. The most striking one however, said she was “uneducated so don’t let no kids make her there idle”. The sensational irony in the spelling of the last word needless to say is lifted straight from this person’s comment.
In all the negative comments the same vocabulary crops up again and again, words and phrases like “crazy”, “no chill”, and “zero chill”. The informal and formal reaction to Serena William’s ‘tantrum’ (as it was described by the press) received a similar response. The words ‘hysterical’, ‘ridiculous’, and ‘crazy’ were used to describe her. I’m secretly quite pleased that she threw that shoe even though many thought that Serena’s behaviour was unprofessional, and Cardi B’s was completely unacceptable.
The word ‘chill’ used as an adjective is probably my least favourite among all 21st century terms. Vogue journalist Martine Thompson’s article, ‘How I Learned to Stop being a Chill Girl and Start Being Authentic’ expressing her distaste for it as well. I recognise her anguish at the charade lots of women have felt they must present to the world. In work, relationships, and friendships we often aspire to possess a breezy, laissez-faire disposition. This is manifested in being ‘completely chilled’ with a non-exclusive relationship or being ‘so chilled’ with a friend’s disloyalty because you ‘don’t like confrontation’. It even exists in the beauty industry, with everyone chasing that ‘Glossier Girl no-make-up make up look’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to hurl my Air Force 1 at the first person that crosses me. However, maybe something can be taken from Cardi B’s refusal to filter a single ounce of her anger and frustration. Obviously, jealousy and anger are not something anyone wants to flaunt, man or woman. Personally I feel I might have grown out of continuously hiding those emotions in order to seem cool and collected.
In her lyrics Cardi is also desensitising people and making them privy to the reality of female jealousy, anger and resentment. Her album Invasion of Privacy was a palpable and frenzied response by a woman to her disloyal boyfriend. Cardi is emotive, laying all her cards on the table and she doesn’t hide how hurt or incensed she is. Of course, it’s not just women who suffer from the creation of these tropes by society; the many male mental health awareness campaigns which have appeared recently have shed light on the notoriously damaging ‘boys-don’t-cry’ image which is just as problematic as that of the ‘chill girl’. Nonetheless, it’s time for the ‘chill girl’ to politely resign and walk away – she’s so chilled I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.