Full disclosure: I only watched the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) last night to see P!nk’s performance and Video Vanguard acceptance speech. And while the rest of the show was pretty tepid and made me feel old and salty as I questioned who presenter after presenter was, I am so freakin’ glad I stuck it out—because she was everything.
I’ve sung P!nk’s praises here at Kveller before, notably for her bold response to anti-Semitism in the wake of Charlottesville. But what I saw last night blew me away nonetheless.
Following an epic medley of her greatest hits that finished with her latest single, “What About Us,” she took the stage to accept one of the evening’s biggest awards, the Video Vanguard Award. And in those three minutes, she gave the speech of her lifetime, aimed at her daughter, Willow, who is six like my own little girl.
You have to watch the entire speech in its full glory – I double-dare you to do it without shedding a tear or wanting to pump your fists in support.
In those three minutes, P!nk—who speaks her truth 24/7 and has been both praised and criticized for it— cites a poignant moment she shared with her daughter recently, when young Willow told her she feels “ugly” and had been called “a boy with long hair.” Upon first hearing it, P!nk naturally wanted to “kick this six-year old’s ass.” But though the mama bear instinct kicked in, she chose a more measured response—one that we can all learn from.
Jewish mama P!nk turned this heartbreaking moment with her daughter into a teachable moment, giving parents everywhere inspiration to encourage their children to love themselves exactly as they are— not to conform to societal norms about beauty or gender or anything else. Listing off some of the world’s most famous musicians who were androgynous and didn’t conform to what society told them to be—Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Annie Lennox, to name a few—she proved to her girl that she can be whoever she is so long as she is true to herself—and that by owning her own truth, she can help others see that beauty comes in many forms. “Baby girl, we don’t change,” she said. “We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl. We help other people to change, so they can see all kinds of beauty.”
I love that she shared this personal moment with all of us in such a public forum. Willow may end up being a girly-girl or a tomboy, a combo of or none of the above. She may grow up identifying with neither gender at all– who knows?
But one thing is certain: she has one hell of an amazing mother for a role model. And to that, I’ll raise a glass.