Janelle Monae has to be one of the entertainment industry’s most fascinating oddities. Here’s a girl, from Kansas City, Kansas, that has done the exact opposite of what’s been considered the norm and her career has excelled tremendously. I first heard of Ms. Monae after the release of her 2010 single “Tightrope”, and I’ve been a loyal fan ever since. Her music is a harmonic fuse of fantasy, funk, and soul. Her talent is unmistakable, her humble demeanor is intoxicating, and her vibrant spirit is the source of inspiration for many young women like myself. A few weeks ago, I was given the amazing opportunity to attend this year’s Trumpet Awards. Jamie Fox, Tommy Hilfiger, and the Isley Brothers were all honored for their career achievements. Janelle Monae was also an honoree, and when I found out she was going to be there I almost died from excitement. My she-ro, my icon, my source of inspiration was going to be sitting in the same room as me! I was going to see her onstage, hear her speak, and breathe the same air as her! I was literally in groupie-mode, and wasn’t ashamed one bit. That was such an awesome experience.
One undeniable, and obvious, factor that sets Janelle apart from her peers is her appearance; she clearly isn’t drinking the kool-aid that most people in Hollywood are gorging themselves on. She’s modest. And sexy. Simultaneously. In an interview with Essence Magazine, she explained why she chooses to maintain such a demure sense of style. She says it’s her attempt to:
| “ redefine what it means to be sexy and what it means to be a woman. Showing my skin is not what makes me sexy… I like skirts and dresses just like everyone else, but I had a message I needed to put out there. It was up to me to show people and young girls there was another way.” |
Janelle Monae isn’t my style icon because, somehow, she’s managed to take two colors from the entire spectrum and created a style that is not only exquisite, but all her own. She isn’t my icon because she looks fabulous on the red carpet. And she isn’t my icon because her hair is bomb as hell (And natural. Natural girls say woop woop!). Janelle Monae is my icon because she does not, and will never, compromise her body image to fit in the world around her. She notices what her peers are doing, and she continues on with her message. She has proven, time and time again, that she can be trusted as a role model for this generation’s women and young girls. She’s true to herself, and she inspires millions of young women everywhere to do the same.
What sets her apart from her booty-baring constituents is her ability to garner the right kind of attention. Through her music, she encourages her listeners to be more socially aware; you will never catch her referencing male genitalia to various cold-blooded reptiles. *super shade to Anaconda* Her style is a regal execution driven by a love for mixing and matching interesting fabrics, all-over prints, and intricately constructed pieces that stop the show. Janelle Monae is a breath of fresh air in a business where sex sells and modesty is viewed as boring. With every public appearance and Instagram upload, she is tearing down the walls of warped ideals involving beauty and female sexuality. I personally invite you to hop on and ride the wave. And to Ms. Monae, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your excellent work and for inspiring an awkward, off-beat late bloomer like me.