The Price Of Shame: Ariana Grande and Big Sean

Jazzi Johnson
Nov 9, 2014 · 5 min read

Shame, as it is defined, is “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” But it’s also a form of abuse, particularly of that for women. The shaming of bodies, the shaming of exploration, the shaming of desires and lusts and dreams.

Most abusers use shame as a beginning point to dismantle and distress one’s victim. First, the shame is on their self: “I’m so sorry I did this. I’ll never do it again.” But gradually, it shifts: “Who would ever want you? And who would believe you anyway?”

But we, as a people, (and especially women) practice shame in our everyday lives without barely noticing it. The reason you keep your greatest dream to yourself because it sounds “just so absurd.” That sexy dress you look great in, but was too afraid of being judged in public. That extra moment of hesitation before speaking up to ask for help when you need it the most.

Shame is cognitive. It’s a thought that turns into an emotion, that can blossom into an action that either upholds fear or challenges our courage to be our true selves.

Sex is one of the most— if not the most— ancient, sacred, instinctive necessity in history. And yet, it’s the greatest subject of shame. The shaming of sexuality after leaked nudes, the shaming of natural body fluids and body parts for breastfeeding, the shaming of a woman’s right to use her body as talent and as liberation for sex workers, the shaming of young girls’ first cyclical period, first sexual desire, first sexual experience, and so on.

Many women who openly discourse about sexual pleasures, curiosities, and endeavors are often labeled and silenced— spoken of as unholy, unclean, or being out of touch with their spirituality and/or religion. And even more-so if its of a same-sex relationship. They are seen as threats to the natural way of the world, when nothing may be more natural in the world than this desire, this want, this need.

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In this three part series, my angelic feathers will be shedding the three main instances of shaming that’s bothered me the most in these recent months.

No. 1— Ariana Grande and Big Sean.

Ariana Grande is currently 21 years old. At 5'0, the healthiest weight for her is between 95— 125 pounds. She has a petite body, a soft, gentle, voice, albeit— some questionably pre-teenish hairstyles, but undoubtedly, we are aware that she is old enough to sing about love and sex and lust with anyone she so chooses without it being “creepy.”

The most important thing here are the facts. To be 21, you don’t have to be a certain height, a certain weight, shape, bra size, nor hip expansion. Just because you perceive her to be younger does not mean she is younger, nor that she has to change anything about herself to make you feel better about what or who she appears to be.

At 21 years old and 5'2, I was involuntarily told the various assumed ages that I resembled nearly every time I used my I.D.: 18, 16, 14— hell, I even had someone tell me to my face that they thought I was 12 as I stood in a dripping wet hoodie, big overlapping sweats, and some snow boots, waiting for the store clerk to hand me my change and my cheap wine bottles for my already sorrowful night. And that’s after I politely smiled at their “do you know how old i thought you were?” and replied “no, thanks.”

Over the years, a little bit of weight gain with a dash of sitting-bitch-face magic, office-appropriate work attire and sophisticated confidence that often comes with age, has (presumably) upped my assumed age to 20 rather than 25. But the truth of the matter is that street harassment began when I was 14, and hasn’t stopped since. So what does age matter?

Age isn’t the real issue here, as so many of the Big Sean/Ariana Grande critics like to yell. Instead, it’s the issue of body-shaming. Grande doesn’t look like the 21 year old you’d like to see. She doesn’t have a heavy top for you to stare and daydream in her magazine spreads, or a big booty to pop around her videos for you to make an amazing gif to share. Neither does she attempt to compensate for any of this with cosmetic surgery, push-up bras, or booty pads. Instead, she has a healthy, normal, petite physique that complements her quirky, young-ish up-dos and vibrant smiles. She isn’t trying to be sexy in every selfie, she isn’t coaxing you to approve of her body, she isn’t asking you how old she looks today.

Both Ariana and Big Sean are being shamed for who they are; her— for her body, and him— for his natural desire of her body. On their Instagrams, fans reply with comments from calling her a “little 12 year old,” to mocking their relationship as “father and daughter bonding time,” and even declarations of grandeur feelings that “this makes me so uncomfortable,” and “I know she is 21 but she still looks like a child.”

And yet, should she decide to get breast enlargement or butt injections, people would be screaming that she doesn’t love herself, or better yet— that he motivated her to do it.

What you are doing is shaming someone for who they naturally are. And what you won’t do is cover it up as concern for “indecency” or “age inappropriate.” Jay Z and Beyonce have 11 years inbetween them; Big Sean and Ariana only have 5. It is legal. It is natural. And therefore, it is none of your damn business. Now please sit your ignorant self-righteous asses down.

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Have a blessed day,

Jazzi Johnson

@ me @bubbleMAMI

A Relative Song

This collection is for all of the music enthusiasts who connect to music on another level. Do you have a song that reminds you of a moment in time? A memory that keeps arising? A person? A dream? A fantasy? Any connection you may have with any song, share here. We’re all eyes.

    Jazzi Johnson

    Written by

    28 | Writer | Editor | & Creative | @TheNewSchool Alum | “if our secrets are secrets because we are told to be ashamed, then we must share them” — w.s.

    A Relative Song

    This collection is for all of the music enthusiasts who connect to music on another level. Do you have a song that reminds you of a moment in time? A memory that keeps arising? A person? A dream? A fantasy? Any connection you may have with any song, share here. We’re all eyes.

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