A couple months ago, I asked my followers on Tumblr when they first realized that representation matters. Today as I was scrolling through the 700+ responses, I started to ask myself the same question. After going through a list of smaller things like my Addy American Girl doll, shows like That's So Raven, Fresh Prince, Sister, Sister, the Brandy cinderella movie and so on; but a bigger influence kept popping into my mind, and that was Melissa Arnette Elliott.
Missy Elliott was the first person that really made me feel proud as fuck to be a black woman. Missy taught me so many life lessons that I will get into in a moment, but I remember being so excited about her and her music growing up. Missy was a regular person, who wasn't caught up in industry and social standards. Missy made her own damn lane in a time where women in hip hop were everywhere, and she did it so well that every person on earth respected her and her craft. Seeing a black women that didn't look like the typical light, skinny, wavy haired artist that wears shiny gowns and only raps about sucking dicks, kick down the doors in hip hop and take over while simultaneously gaining respect from every man, woman, and child in hip hop and the overall music industry was so mind blowing and inspirational to me. Missy Elliott and her music taught me so much about self love and is what sparked my black woman pride. These are just some of the things that Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott taught me.
I have never been a small person and I never will be, even in the best shape of my life I have always had a little stomach, thick hips, large breasts and that is just the way I am built. Growing up, we are taught that skinny is the only correct way to be. As much as I respect and love many other women in Hip Hop, just about all of them are light skin and skinny. Missy Elliott was one of the first bigger women not just in hip hop to just come right on out and own it, unapologetically. Missy not only was all about loving your body however it is, but she also talked about how big girls can be sexy and loved too. Missy talked in interviews about how well known industry professionals told her to stick to writing and producing behind the scenes because she didn't fit the industry "look" and well, clearly we see how that ended. She came out here slaying everybody and giving zero fucks about your feelings.
Missy also taught me that I didn't have to follow "fashion rules". Missy was always wearing wild and frankly "weird" outfits according to social standards. I mean she was either in a tracksuit or some wild ass futuristic outfit and I loved it. I never identified with being a "girly girl" and Missy taught me that was okay. And on top of all it, she made every damn thing she put on look good.
Made Short Hair Cool
I know you're probably thinking "Rebekah this is a reach", but honestly to me it was a big deal. I used to have very long hair, but after a string of bad decisions and relaxers, I had to cut my hair short and I hated it. Girls, especially black girls, are supposed to aspire to have lengthy hair, but in reality a lot of have short hair and we should't have to be ashamed of that. So when Missy rocked her short hairstyles and looked amazing doing it, it made me realize I too, could have awesome short hair. I remember tearing photos of Missy out of magazines, bringing the my hair stylist and saying "DO THIS! Make my hairlook like this".
Inspired Me To Dance
I started doing ballet when I was 6 like pretty much every little girl on earth, but there was something about Missy Elliott and her crazy ass energy and hip hop dance styles that inspired me to continue dancing as I got older. I used to sneak up in the middle of the night to watch MTV (back when they actually played msuic), and I would just wait for Missy videos to come on and learn the choreogprahy. We ain't have Youtube back then so you couldn't just go lookup music videos online, we had to wait for that shit to air on tv. Anyways, I was inspired to be a dancer, so I did dance until college. I actually originally wanted to to to college to major in dance, all because of Missy, unfortunatly things didn't work out but Missy made me find a the passion and love that I still have today for dancing. All her routines were so creative and out of the box from anything we ever saw with hip hop routines. She literally have people dancing on the fucking walls in that "Lose Control" video and bitches coming out the ground in the "Pass That Dutch" video, like how even Sway? There still ain't a single person on this earth that can match Missy's dance styles in my opinion.
One of the most powerful things, Missy taught me was empowerment not only as a woman but as a black woman. Missy was never in cat fights with other artists, even when people took shots at her, she would take the high road because bitch, she's Missy Elliott and who are you? Missy has always been out here cheering on other women in the music industry no matter what.
She took time to collabortate with artists other people would have been reluctant to because she saw something in them. I mean we can go on forever about the people Missy collabed with, Lil Kim, Lil Mo, Da Brat, Trina, Beyonce, Ciara, Mary J, The Clark Sisters, Ms. Jade, TLC, Aaliyah, Tweet and those are just the women on HER albums, and let's not even get started on the men she worked with. And going back watching her videos I realized that not once, were the women in her videos sexulaized and she had a lot of women in her videos. But they were there to be bad ass, hip hop dancing, ass bitches, having fun with Missy Elliott, not to be sexual objects. But aside from just being a supporter of women overall, she also rapped about women being independent and doing whatever the fuck you want to do. She was confident in her sexuality, she encouraged women to take care of they damn self and not care what men had to say about it.
"I gotta bag full of toys and I don't need none of your boys."
There is so much more that Missy has taught me but these are some of the most important to me. I was so happy she got recogonzied at the BET Hip Hop Honors this year but in my opinion, it isn't enough. Missy is one of the most important and influencial hip hop artists period, no discussion needed. However she, (and every other female hip hop artist) is not giving the recognition she deserves. I saw so many people online say they were tuning out from the show because they were honoring all women that night. I was disgusted, sexism in the music industry, especially hip hop is still alive and well. Far too many people do not give any fucks about the women out here working their ass off and who have 10 times the talent than any of these mainstream male rappers. Women in hip hop are so important and Missy Elliott created a whole new style of hip hop that has been matched my no one, and paved the way fo many artists reguardless of gender. And she been out here for decades writing and producing for all your favs of all races, genders and genres. Missy Elliott is a fucking queen to be worshiped and don't you ever forget it.
"Ugh, I'm so far ahead of ya'll, man I'm on top of the stars I don't care none of you are, blah-blah-blah-blah You best to go rewrite your bars"
Anyways, Missy is the shit and means the world to me. I will forever support her in anything she does. She could put out a line of Missy Elliott trash bags and I will be first in line to buy every single one of the shelf. I am patiently waiting for a tour and album and I will sell my right titty, my left leg, a kidney, my eggs, and maybe even an eyeball to get front row tickets. May Missy Elliott reign supreme forever and please watch this video of one of my favorite Missy songs before you go.