Who can take out a housemaid with a single Smackberry? Who can rock community service hours in New York City’s Sanitation Department in a pair of Christian Louboutins? Who can make Italian mega-moguls open up their bank accounts and toss out multi-million dollar yachts like so many peppermints?
Naomi Campbell, can…that’s who.
Come on now, Naomi is just the baaaaaaaadest feline to ever meow her way down a catwalk. THE and END. I could give a damn what the haters say, and they do say some stuff about ya girl; she’s a diva, she’s a bad role model, she’s immature, she’s got too much forehead, she don’t look so great without her makeup, she’s too weavalicious, she’s got too many assault and battery charges…you know, the same ol’, same ol’. You know something? They’re right. She is a bitch. She does need anger management classes…ummmm…frequently. She does assault the po-po and a few too many innocent domestic staff, unnecessarily. Her weaves are (sometimes) hellacious and she’s not exactly the poster girl for emotional health. But, having said all that….when it comes to my intense, obsessive love of Naomi, Alicia’s song says it best, “No one, no one, no ooooooone, can get in the way of what I’m feeling.”
I know it’s sorta wrong that I cheer when I hear Naomi’s gone and attacked some more airport security guards in London’s Heathrow Airport, or to feel like high-fivin’ her because she eats paparazzi and little boys for breakfast, spits out the pits and then reapplies her lip-gloss. But, it’s sorta right, too. I mean, love her or hate her, no one can question the fact that her very existence, her breathtaking beauty (a divine fluke, for which she can’t take credit), has profoundly impacted Black images in fashion for the better. No, she wasn’t the first (head nod to Beverly Johnson, Iman, Naomi Sims), she wasn’t the last (shout out to Alec Wek, Tyra, Selita Ebanks, Liya Kibede, Chanel Iman, etc.), but she was THE GREATEST. I know there are plenty of people who are SCREAMING at their computer screens right now, in utter opposition with me on that, but I betcha about 75% of them secretly know it’s true, just don’t want to give the lady her due because she can have a stank attitude. There, I said it.
But, here’s another twist. I think the very fact that she had/has such a stank attitude is another way in which she inadvertently contributed to “the cause.” Before Naomi, everyone was tippy-toeing around the images of Black Women in the media, scared to be politically incorrect. Remember when every Black chick on the soaps had to be the “sweet” girl? It was nauseating. Television and film producers were so scared of being called out for promoting racist stereotypes (the mammy, the whore, the eye-rolling bitch) that they played it safe with these saccharine-Y sweet, erroneously angelic images of “sisters”. It was a total snooze-fest. Then came NAOMI, causing disturbances on planes, throwing temper tantrums in eighteen-star hotel rooms and tossing cell phones in places no decent human beings should toss them. And, I was like….HALLELUJAH, we’re free!!
Let me clarify, because I really don’t want to glorify bad behavior. That’s not what this is about. What I mean is, Naomi’s tempestuous, incendiary temper helped to free us from being trapped into a suffocating, limited definition. She opened up possibilities, helped to show America, show the world, the immense and beautifully complex range of who we are, both good and bad. Even she, the bitch of all bitches (and, I say that with the utmost admiration), is more than one thing. Yes, she’s hell on legs (arguably the most magnificent legs on the planet), but she’s also a deeply compassionate human being, offering her time and name to endless charitable efforts (British Red Cross work in Somali relief efforts, frequently teaming up with Nelson Mandela in South Africa –despite being uninvited to his 90th b-day bash-, going to Moscow to help raise money for children with cancer, on and on and on). Before you say that all of this just for good PR and to improve her rep, I’d argue, this lady has been doing her thang for charity, year in and year out, way too long and with far too much frequency for it to be all for “show”.
I just saw a pic of Naomi online today, which was what got me going off on this Naomi-Adoration rant. And, it made me smile. And, it made me laugh. And, it made me feel so, so fierce and remember that I can DO anything, too. So, I am grateful and ask you again…
Who can fall on her ass on a runway and still look like a goddess?
Answer: Naomi can.
Who can raise money for Katrina victims one day, and hob nob with Andre Léon Talley the next?
Answer: Naomi can.
Who can say, “I have to jet,” and mean it, literally (as in, off on a private “j” to sun myself in Ibiza, while scantily-clad Spanish boy-toys feed me grapes)?
Answer: Naomi can.
Who makes the other “super” models call in sick when she hits a runway because they don’t want to get WALKED the h*ll OFF?
Answer: Naomi Campbell, the baaaaaadest, most willful, explosive, paradoxical, amazing creature to EVER meow her way down a catwalk, Naomi Campbell — that’s who.