'We don't change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty'...
Sunday saw MTV’s Video Music Awards with Alessia Cara, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift winning big.
One of the show’s highlights however is the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, with past recipients of the VMA’s prestigious gong including everyone from Madonna and David Bowie to Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé.
This year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award went to American singer songwriter P!nk, who used her acceptance speech to deliver an important message to her six-year-old daughter Willow.
‘Recently, I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me, out of the blue, “Mama?” I said, “Yes, baby?” and she said, “I’m the ugliest girl I know”, the 37-year-old singer announced to the crowd, going on to recount their conversation.
‘She was like, “Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.” And my brain went to, “Oh my god, you’re six. Why? Where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a 6-year-old’s ass, like what?”‘
‘But I didn’t say anything,’ she explained. ‘Instead I went home and I made a Powerpoint presentation for her. And in that presentation were androgynous rockstars and artists that live their truth, are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on, wave their flag and inspire the rest of us.’
She continued: ‘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,’ P!nk explained of her daughter, ‘but then I said, “You know, I really want to know why you feel this way about yourself.” And she said, “Well I look like a boy.”
‘I said, “Well what do you think I look like?” And she said, “Well you’re beautiful.” And I was like, “Well, thanks. But when people make 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.”‘
She continued: ‘And I said to her, “Do you see me growing my hair?” She said, “No, mama.” I said, “Do you see me changing my body?” “No, mama.” “Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?” “No, mama.” “Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?” “Yes, Mama.” “OK! So, baby girl. We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.”‘
‘And to all the artists here, I’m so inspired by all of you,’ P!nk announced to the audience, concluding her speech to thunderous applause. ‘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 shit happening in music. And keep doing it. Keep shining for the rest of us to see.’
‘And you, my darling girl, are beautiful, and I love you,’ she said directly to her daughter before finally announcing ‘Thank you, MTV. This is a really special night. Thank you, Ellen. I couldn’t love you more. Thank you guys. Goodnight.’
Well we’re inspired – this speech isn’t just an important lesson in motherhood but a powerful statement on non-conformity.