Hip hop model
Hip hop models (alternatively: hip hop honeys, video girls or video vixens) are female models who appear in hip-hop-oriented music videos and related men's magazines, calendars, award shows, beauty pageants, or live performances. Many video models are aspiring actors, singers, dancers, or professional models. Their reasons for appearing in rap videos can vary, with most hip hop models hoping to gain commercial exposure and make a living. Other video models work for free and have a brief moment in the limelight.
The work of hip hop models and their portrayal in music videos have drawn criticism. Critics suggest that music-video models are typically placed in subordinate and submissive roles while male artists are shown in positions of power. Others argue that music-video models are depicted as sexual objects, signs of male power, and referred to in derogatory terms such as "bitch" and "slut". In the rap world, women represent success, and they are treated almost as accessories: a means for rappers to prove that they have made it to the top. It is not that rappers feel that women are inferior, but they feel treating women like a collector’s item is how they should go about displaying their new-found success.
Hip-hop models, also defined as video vixens, used their bodies to sell an ideal or fake notion of beauty. The ideal of beauty is associated with lighter skin, longer hair, and having a body that men fantasize over. It was this portrayal of black beauty that continues to spark controversy in today's mainstream hip-hop music.
In 2004, Nelly's video for his song "Tip Drill" came under particular criticism for its depiction and sexual objectification of women. While some people pointed out that the women who appeared in Nelly's video voluntarily chose to participate, others insisted that male rappers continue to sexually objectify hip hop models while denying that the hip hop artists' career is, at least in part, based on the exploitation of other people.
In 2005, former hip hop music-video model Karrine Steffans authored the book Confessions of a Video Vixen, in which she depicts the degradation of women in the world of hip hop. The book's publisher describes it as "part tell-all, part cautionary tale". The book went on to be a best seller in the US. Another hip hop model, Candace Smith, said in an XXL interview, "what I’ve seen on [hip hop music video] sets is complete degradation".
Successful career paths
Some hip hop models who have made a name for themselves in the music video industry, as well as girls with limited work as hip hop models, have gone on to other types of work with greater success, mostly by marketing themselves.
Nicole Alexander became an American reality TV show contestant and is known for winning the VH1 reality television shows of Flavor of Love in its first season and I Love Money. Another reality show winner was Chandra Davis who won the second season of VH1's Flavor of Love competition.
Leila Arcieri was voted Miss San Francisco in the 1997 Miss California pageant and went on to act in television series, such as Son of the Beach, a parody of Baywatch. Melyssa Ford is an on-air personality for Sirius Satellite Radio's Hot Jamz channel. She sells a line of calendars and DVD.
Vida Guerra has modelled for many magazines, including DUB, Smooth, Escape, and Open Your Eyes, often as the cover girl. She has also made multiple appearances on several Spanish language television programs, such as entertainment gossip show El Gordo y la Flaca (The Scoop and The Skinny), and commercials for Burger King's TenderCrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch. She's lent her voice to the video game Scarface: The World Is Yours. Lauren London has a successful career in movies and television. Angel Melaku, Nicole Narain went on to acting careers, while LisaRaye McCoy-Misick became a famous actress.
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[...] girls of color have a whole aspect of hip-hop with those horrible videos and the rise of the hip-hop honey or video girl.
- Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. Pimps up, Ho's down: Hip Hop's Hold on Young Black Women. New York: New York University Press, 2007, p. 26, ISBN 978-0-8147-4014-9.
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- "Hot Jamz". Sirius Satellite Radio. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
Hot Jamz is about to get a lot hotter: Melyssa Ford has joined our squad!
- Ford. "Calendar Girl". Naked. pp. 219–220.
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