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Read full returns policy. Arguably modeled upon the rise of Britney Spears in the late 90s and early s, subsequently successful pop princesses follow a rather similar path to superstardom: they all enter the entertainment industry at a very young age, starring in popular shows that primarily target tweens and teens, before finding the need to shake up their images and break into a more mature market as they grow out of girlhood themselves. Signifying primitiveness, filth, and sexual carnality , blackness and its adornment to the point of blackface becomes a perfect trope for these female stars to contaminate and perverse their white feminine purity, their innocent facade that has been manufactured by the entertainment industry in their early years.
However, in the genealogy that I outline below — from Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera to Ariana Grande — there is already the precedent of using blackface to make them look darker, and of deploying blackness to flirt with the idea that they as princesses also have a side that is less tamed and more primal. Redman Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were and are often pitted against each other for the title Princess of Pop, even though Miss Spears quite evidently have been culturally crowned the ultimate title, championing the race of popularity, trend-setting and selling.
This blatant blackface certainly does not stop there — it is part of a much larger scheme to portray dirtiness and filth using blackness, enlisting a rapper along the way to aid this effort.
Pop princesses of the noughties: Where are they now?
Thus, it further reinforces the status of black people and their culture as commodity, as something that sells. Blacking becomes something that is at once extracted from and imposed upon black population — it is an idea that whiteness produces and reproduces, an idea that exceeds the lives of black people. Grande rose to fame as an teenager thanks to her involvement with the Nickelodeon, which means as she grows older, there is a demand for her to shed the skin of a white bubblegum pop princess in order to attract more mature audience.
Thus, she fits in quite perfectly in the genealogy that I outline above. Rather, another mode of transraciality materializes as not so much a complete transition from black to white or vice versa, but it relies on ambiguity and ambivalence, on a sort of racial and sexual exotification that sells in pop culture.
If race is a social and colonial construct, then the power is still in the hand of white folks who get to play with and reconstruct their own racial reality to their own advantage. Love them or hate them, these women have been and will continue to be shaping and reshaping social understanding around representation of femininity and its racial specificity on an international level.
In a way, these American pop princesses can be understood as a cultural product to be exported as part of an ongoing imperialist and capitalist project of Western domination. Hence, their utilization of blackface should be seen less of a personal choice than a much larger systemic effort that mobilizes these few white female bodies to export a global formation of races centering around whiteness. Races, then, should not be taken to be such an American-specific phenomenon that white Europeans or Asians, for instance, can ignore because they live in homogeneous countries.
This article can be seen as a personal effort for me to look back into my childhood in Vietnam when I enthusiastically consumed these utopic images of femininity, sexuality and whiteness, to ask myself the hard question: Where are the remnants of these racist images in my current self?
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Caitlin McBride Twitter Email. Always has, always will be. Her debut album So Real went platinum, but only reached 31 in the Billboard charts.click here
She has since made her mark in acting — forever holding a place in our teenage hearts for her role as Jamie Sullivan in A Walk to Remember. She is now a successful actress and married to musician Ryan Adams.
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And shocked all of us just a year-old me? The impossibly catchy tune catapulted her to stardom, but she has yet to reach the same levels of fame in recent years. Most recently, she features on E! Pink provided a punk alternative to the sweet as pie singers du jour in the early noughties. In , M!
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She has a daughter Willow four with husband, Carey Hart. She is still singing, albeit to much smaller audiences — earlier this year, she promoted her new single in a strip club. By pole dancing. She released her self-titled album in with hits like Foolish and Happy tearing up the charts at the time. Not to mention, she was dating rapper Nelly which saw her name in the headlines after her popular in music waned.
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Caitlin McBride Cheryl, formerly Tweedy, Cole and Fernandez-Versini, much like her newly singular name, is struggling to find a place in the modern celebrity construct. Pop princesses of the noughties: Where are they now? In , Britney Spears shocked audiences when she stripped down to a flesh colour sequinned suit on stage.