Five-time Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar has just surprised fans by dropping a video for his new single, Humble. The visually-rich 3-minute video features plenty of attention-grabbing and provocative images, referencing Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and seeing Lamar play the Pope. But there’s a sequence towards the end of the video which has caught the attention of his female fans for a very different reason: he seemingly pays homage to natural beauty and stretch marks.
Half way through the video he raps:
I’m so f***in’ sick and tired of the Photoshop/
Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor/
Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretchmarks/
Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy
To illustrate his words, a female co-star appears dressed up in a sparkling choker and lace bodysuit, with slicked-back hair, flawless skin and fake eyelashes. But when she moves into the frame opposite, the fascade slips away to reveal her natural beauty and she’s wearing a simple vest top. Lamar then comes into the split screen, staring adoringly at her bare face and stretch marks, before a close-up of her butt and thighs takes up the screen.
Despite adorning the bodies of almost every woman, stretch marks have been historically hidden, denied as the norm and erased from the media. So it’s being seen as a breath of fresh air that they’re highlighted and extolled in a music video, especially one by a (very influential) male music star.
Lamar’s female fans were fast to praise his video for its “body-positive message”. One user wrote: “Didn't realise how much I wanted to see an ass like mine represented until I saw that ass w/ stretch marks in Kendrick's video.”
Kendrick talking about he hates photoshop and loves real stuff i.e afro and stretch marks is the best thing to happen in 2017— mads (@onIyangelzjm) March 31, 2017
The whole video is evocative in its use of imagery, but other moments in the video are less groundbreaking in their representation of women. Footage at the start of a video shows a group of women dressed in underwear as they count piles of money for Lamar. Whether this is an intentional trope or not, it can be seen to perpetuate tired, misogynistic “video girl” stereotypes. However, it’s great to see female fans taking away more body-positive feelings towards themselves as a result of the later scene.
Watch the full video below.
Images: Courtesy Vevo/YouTube