Despite being the combination of two words with negative connotations, being called a bad bitch is actually quite the compliment. According to the always-enlightening Urban Dictionary, a bad bitch is a “self-respecting, strong female who has everything together. That consists of body, mind, finances, and swagger. Also, a female who does & gets hers by any means necessary.”In other words, a bad bitch is a woman who does what she wants when she wants, regardless of what other people may think. And while some parents might fret over this liberating shift in the minds of their children (not just their daughters, btw), the concept of bad bitches as role models is actually incredibly positive.
B.B.’s are usually sexually empowered, independently successful and dress and act without regard for the patriarchal constraints of modesty and deference. Female celebrities like Amber Rose, Cardi B, CL and Nicki Minaj, who all proudly refer to themselves as bad bitches, are perhaps the patron saints of the movement. Their bold ideological stance is important to their position as role models, because although dressing provocatively and dancing sensually may be common sights on television, normal women are still slut-shamed for it.
It was this harsh criticism of self-expressive women that helped Amber Rose, author of How to be a Bad Bitch, to start her own slut walk last October. During slut walks, women show up wearing whatever they would like in order to spread awareness about gender inequality issues, such as telling victims of rape and assault that they were “asking for it” based on their clothing choice. Where many fashion magazines aimed at young women still focus on how to “catch” a man, bad bitches allow them to feel, perhaps for the first time, that their choices and lives are under their control and shouldn’t revolve around men. Wear what you want to wear, girls.
Viewing bad bitches as role models also promotes the idea of camaraderie amongst women. Nicki proudly proclaims, “I like bad bitches because they like bad bitches, too” in the remix to “No Flex Zone,” and constantly speaks out on the gender bias present in the music industry that women must “remain strong” in the face of. Similarly, in her latest video for her single, “Hello Bitches,” CL showcases a posse of women of different races and distinct looks all dancing and having fun. This feeling is reflected in the “bodyposi” movement on Twitter, where women share photos of each other, lifting each other up, and celebrating their differences and unique forms.
Instead of envying each other for superficial reasons, a bad bitch mentality is one that is more likely to appreciate and befriend other women, harboring strength in numbers, which is definitely beneficial to young women who are often made to feel that they must be the most attractive woman in the room.
In a society where one in four girls will develop some kind of mental disorder such as an eating disorder or depression, any voice that encourages self-esteem and love is incredibly important. Stripper-turned-Instagram-celebrity Cardi B, besides posting pictures of herself alongside those of her with no makeup on, has become well-known for her motivational words to her followers on her Instagram account.
In one short video, Cardi B, sans makeup and wearing a dark hat, says, “Why commit suicide? Wouldn’t you want to show your…classmates…or that ***** that don’t look your way that one day you’re gonna be a badass bitch? You rather people feel bad for one week when you kill yourself or stupid for the rest of they life when you glow up on them…” She includes a caption that reveals that she has experienced those feelings at one point in her life.
Bad bitches defy expectations of what a woman “should” be and encourage other women to present themselves in any way that they like. Amber Rose’s shaved head defies traditional femininity. Nicki Minaj’s rapper personality, Roman, showcases an angry side that is often suppressed in women; and CL has admitted in an interview that she hopes to break “that typical Asian female stereotype” of Asian women being more “calm” and quiet by showing that “there are some badass Asian female girls.”
Perhaps the beauty of bad bitches lies in the fact that there is no one type—any woman can be a bad bitch just as long as she stays true to her own self, a concept that should be celebrated, not denigrated. If girls are gravitating toward a bad bitch celebrity rather than a more traditional role model, that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it may even be better: Imagine the positive ramifications of a generation of women who are in control (and aware of) their sexuality, feel kinship with other women and have the confidence to present their true selves to the world. Bad bitches everywhere, I salute you.