Pink knew she didn’t have a lot of time to accept her Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at tonight’s MTV VMAs. She made every second of it count. She told a story about driving her daughter Willow to school when the 6-year-old said, “Mama, I’m the ugliest girl I know.” Pink was extremely confused — and jokingly wondered if she could beat up the child who said such hurtful things about her daughter — but Willow continued, “I look like a boy with long hair.”
Pink didn’t deal with it with your typical Very Special Moment found at the end of every episode of Full House. Instead, she claims to have gone home and made a PowerPoint presentation about the rich history of strikingly beautiful and powerful androgynous performers throughout music’s rich history. The presentation featured “artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on and wave their flag and inspire the rest of us. These are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie and Annie Lennox and Prince and Janis Joplin and Elton John.”
Her daughter’s eyes glazed over, but Pink really wanted to know why Willow cared that she looked like a boy, especially when Pink’s rebuttal was “Well, what do you think I look like?” (To which her daughter replied, “You’re beautiful.”) “When people make fun of me, they say I look like a boy. They say I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions. My body is too strong,” Pink continued.
“Do you see me growing my hair?” she asked Willow.
“No, mama,” her daughter said.
“Do you see me changing my body?”
“Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?”
“Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?”
That one got a “Yes, mama.”
“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 that 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 right now in music, and, keep doing it, keep shining for the rest of us to see.”
Pink found her daughter in the audience for one final message: “And you, my darling girl, are beautiful, and I love you.”
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With that, the singer thanked her fans and MTV, and bade everyone goodbye. In just a few short minutes, Pink demonstrated that beauty doesn’t have to be confining and singular. In beauty, there’s strength. There’s success. There’s a rich tapestry of musicians who weren’t afraid to defy society’s expectations of looking a certain way. It’s a lesson for everyone.
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