This weekend, the MTV Video Music Awards hit the stage – artists performed, took home awards, and gave speeches thanking their fans and families for the support. While I watched it mainly as entertainment for my Sunday, one moment in the show stuck out to me (okay, in addition to Demi Lovato’s killer performance), and that was Pink’s acceptance speech after winning the Video Vanguard Award. Not going to lie, her speech got me a little teary eyed and really resonated with me. Here it is if you’ll take a minute to read:
“I know I don’t have a lot of time, but if I may tell you a quick story. Recently, I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me, out of the blue, ‘Mama?’ I said, ‘Yes, baby?’ She said, ‘I’m the ugliest girl I know.’ And I said, ‘Huh?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.’ And my brain went to, ‘Oh my god, you’re six. Why? Where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a 6-year-old’s ass, like what?’ But I didn’t say anything. Instead I went home and I made a Powerpoint presentation for her. And in that presentation were androgynous rockstars and artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on, wave their flag and inspire the rest of us. And these are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox and Prince and Janis Joplin and George Michael, Elton John, so many artists — her eyes glazed over. But then I said, ‘You know, I really want to know why you feel this way about yourself.’ And she said, ‘Well I look like a boy,’ and I said, ‘Well what do you think I look like?’ And she said, ‘Well you’re beautiful.’ And I was like, ‘Well, thanks. But when people make fun of me, that’s what they use. They say I look like a boy or I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions, my body is too strong.’ And I said to her, ‘Do you see me growing my hair?’ She said, ‘No, mama.’ I said, ‘Do you see me changing my body?’ ‘No, mama.’ ‘Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?’ ‘No, mama.’ ‘Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?’ ‘Yes, Mama.’ ‘OK! So, baby girl. We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.’ And to all the artists here, I’m so inspired by all of you. Thank you for being your true selves and for lighting the way for us. I’m so inspired by you guys. There’s so much rad shit happening in music. And keep doing it. Keep shining for the rest of us to see. And you, my darling girl, are beautiful, and I love you. Thank you, MTV. This is a really special night. Thank you, Ellen. I couldn’t love you more. Thank you guys. Goodnight.”
The speech had a few thoughts running through my head. First, it was a major reminder of how much of an impact your childhood has on you, and saddened me to hear her daughter thinking these thoughts so early. I’m not sure what happened to Pink’s daughter for her to say those words, but I’m going to assume it was another kid making fun of her and putting those thoughts in her head (ugh). It’s unfortunate, but it’s been happening for as long as I can remember. And unfortunately, things you start to think about yourself (no matter where they come from) don’t always just go away.
From the people I’ve had conversations with, the stories I’ve read, there typically seems to be a common theme: these negative thoughts don’t come out of the blue, but they begin early. And that’s why parents (and people in general) need to follow Pink’s lead – by encouraging and fostering people to be nothing but themselves. Kids are super impressionable at young ages – they’re soaking it ALL in. A mean thought a kid in your class had and said about you could be something that carries with you throughout life, what your mom says about her body in front of you could change your views on body image, and that’s just the truth. But it’s important to recognize this not only at a young age, but wherever you are in life. Your words mean something.
There’s a lot of shit going on in the world (to put it simply) – but Pink’s message of acceptance is one that will always ring true for all of us. What I was reminded of on Sunday was: be kind to others, accept others for who they are, and do the same exact thing for yourself. Thanks for that reminder Pink – you and your daughter keep rockin’ it.
Photo credit: Pink