Earlier this month Nicki Minaj was given the honor of her own Madame Tussauds wax figure at the organization's most debaucherous location, Las Vegas. The statue reflects an iconic moment in the record-breaking "Anaconda" video, one where Nicki crawls in a suggestive, powerful manner. The choice might have been fun for Minaj's Barbz, but on the whole it's an off-putting decision: Even though lots of us know the video and know it well, it'd make more sense to have one of the greatest rappers in the world posing...not on her knees?
We're not the first to draw this conclusion. Azealia Banks, also a progressive artist and woman of color, expressed outrage toward the figure. In a series of tweets, she explained the positioning degrades Nicki's other accomplishments and marginalizes her until she's only a body for entertainment, a perfect ass and little else.
Banks, of course, is correct on a myriad of notes. People have been treating the likeness like a sex toy and the museum didn't put Martha in a prison uniform—which may sound like different issues, but think about it. White women enjoy privileges women of color don't. The next time a frequently sexualized white starlet—say Iggy Azalea—gets a wax statue, what kind of treatment will she be given? It's not hard to guess; Iggy's never been viewed the same way as Nicki—and we're not talking about skills or career arcs here, but the way people physically approach the artists. Conversation around Nicki has always been obsessed with her form, as if her body was sent from above for us to enjoy. It's not. It's her own. (See also: Rihanna, She Who Needs Not Be Body-Shamed.)
The conversation gets more confusing from there. People, like Banks suspected, started posing suggestively with the figure, some cruder than others. Let's start with the disgusting extreme:
Obviously this is gross and let's pray to god those dudes never get laid again. On a relatedly perplexing note: In some instances, Minaj found the sexually charged posing to be...hilarious?
Methinks the reason for Nicki's endorsements is that A) The first photo is a group of women, and B) The second seems to be done in a humorous way, free of the dangerous, privileged heterosexuality of some men, the kind that think the "friendzone" is a real thing and probably believe they'd be entitled to a real shot with Minaj if the opportunity ever arose. Even still, by Minaj poking fun at those mocking her likeness, she's taking back some of the control that creepers tried to strip from her: She's selective in her approval (you won't see her posting the top images anytime soon) and by doing that, she's once again claiming ownership of her form. It's disgusting that she has to do it in the first place.
Madame Tussauds is trying to stop the stupidity from perpetuating by enlisting security guards to defend Nicki Minaj's wax statue, but even that feels like too little, too late when the issue could've been addressed at the get-go, at the figure's conception.
Nicki Minaj is a prolific, important artist in every way the term can be defined, so dubbing one look her most iconic is impossible. Why couldn't this have been "Super Bass" Nicki? Or even "Feeling Myself" Nicki? Why couldn't she rock one of the many other outfits in the "Anaconda" video, in any of the many other positions, the ones where she's standing up, like the majority of the museum's statues? We might never know, but let's hope people stop behaving this way with the statue and start examining why this is happening in the first place.