If you weren't already obsessed with Pink, her performance and speech at the 2017 VMAs most certainly got you to that point. Not only did the singer perform a medley of her biggest hits like "So What" and "What About Us," but her acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award was an emotional, eloquent take on issues like body image, sexism, and empowerment. Seriously, Pink's speech at the VMAs brought down the house, and for completely worthy reasons.
After accepting her award from her friend Ellen DeGeneres, Pink focused her speech on her 6-year-old daughter, Willow (Pink and husband Carey Hart also have an infant son, Jameson). The singer told the audience how Willow recently told her that she was the "ugliest girl I know," to which her mom, understandably, responded with confusion. Willow explained that she felt, due to the criticisms from her peers, that she looked like a boy with long hair, and felt insecure because of this.
Pink explained to the audience that upon hearing this, her first reaction was anger. But instead of focusing her energy on the kids responsible for making fun of Willow, the star instead decided to make a Powerpoint presentation for her daughter of "androgynous rock stars and 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." Despite criticism, these people, like Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin, Elton John and more continued on, and created incredible legacies in the process.
Pink then told Willow that people make fun of her for looking masculine too, but instead of changing her look, she feels pride in it. I said, “when people made fun of me, that’s what they use. They say I look like a boy or I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions. My body is too strong,'" Pink described in the speech. "And I said to her, 'Do you see me growing my hair?' She said, 'No, momma.' 'Do you see me changing my body?' 'No, momma.' 'Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?' 'No, momma.' 'Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?' 'Yes, momma.'"
“'OK, so, baby girl, we don’t change,'" the star continued. "'We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty.'”
I know I don’t have a lot of time, but if I may tell you a quick story. Recently I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me out of the blue, “Momma?” I said, “Yes baby?” She said to me, “I’m the ugliest girl I know.” And I said, “huh?” And she was like, “Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.” And my brain went to, “oh my god, you’re six, where is this coming form, who said this, can I kick a six year old’s ass?” But I didn’t say anything and instead I went home and I made a powerpoint presentation for her.
And in that presentation were androgynous rock stars and 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. And these are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox and Prince and Janis Joplin and George Michael, Elton John. So many artists, her eyes glazed over.
But then I said, “I really want to know why you feel this way about yourself.” She said, “oh, I look like a boy.” And I said, “well, what do you think I look like?” And she said, “well, you’re beautiful.” And I was like, “well, thanks,” but I said, “when people made fun of me, that’s what they use. They say I look like a boy or I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions. My body is too strong.”
And I said to her, “do you see me growing my hair?” She said, “no, momma.” “Do you see me changing my body?” “No, momma.” “Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?” “No, momma.” “Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?” “Yes, momma.” “Okay, so, baby girl, we don’t change. We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty.”
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 sh*t happening right now in music. Keep doing it. Keep shining for the rest of us to see. And you, my darling girl, are beautiful and I love you.
It was an incredibly moving and inspiring speech, and both fans and Pink's fellow musicians felt its power.
Bravo, Pink, both on the well-deserved Video Vanguard award and a gorgeous, unforgettable speech we all deserve to hear.