“I want a girl with extensions in her hair/ bamboo earrings, at least two pair.”
Who can forget LL Cool J’s legendary ode to ‘round-the-way girls? At one point, rap music videos were filled with them—beautiful women who still managed to seem accessible. Women who you might actually be able to approach if you saw them walking down the street or at a club. But the girl next door types from rap videos of yesteryear are a far cry from the super-stacked beauties of today—so much so that they’ve taken on a new title of their own: video vixens.
They tend to have perfect hour glass measurements, flawless make-up, and sex-appeal that oozes off of the TV screen and magazines. A lucky few have even finagled their video appearances into complete branding opportunities, profiting from public appearances, calendars, and websites. These women’s bank accounts are being to look as stacked as their bodies.
But what some see as a celebration of womanly form (who can’t appreciate a well-sculpted body?); others see as flat out degradation. For many, it’s considered a giant step backwards for women across the globe. For the critics, ‘objectification’ seems to be a more appropriate term for what happens for these vixens than ‘appreciation’. It doesn’t help when scenes such as Nelly’s infamous booty-crack-credit-card-swipe in the "Tip drill" video are becoming the norm. The women are wearing less and jiggling more…but most women within the video vixen field insist that it’s a source of empowerment.
This week DX caught up with bourgeoning model Kimya to get her opinion on the video model industry, the stigmas associated with body models, and why many people are ‘confused about what socially acceptable is’.
Beauty & Brains: What made you want to get into video modeling?
Kimya: I love the glitz and glamour of it all.
Beauty & Brains: You landed your first music video in 2003 with Digital Underground--so you’ve been doing this since age 18…has this always been the dream career for you?
Kimya: No, actually I went to school for fashion design. I just thought it was so much fun [when I did my first video]. I never felt so alive. Plus everyone on the set was very pleasant. I thought to myself ‘this is what I want to do’.
Beauty & Brains: Was it conventional/ commercial modeling you were set on and transitioned into videos?
Kimya: Actually, I was still in high school when I did the Digital Underground video. I didn't start doing conventional [or] commercial modeling until I graduated.
Beauty & Brains: How has your family reacted to the skimpy clothes and nude modeling?
Kimya: [Laughs] My dad, you know, hates it… but he just wants me to be happy and the same with my mom. They would rather me be a doctor or lawyer with a nuns outfit everyday.
DX: I’m sure most parents would prefer that. I heard you're also a huge Hip Hop fan, who are some of your favorites?
Kimya: I absolutely love Jay-Z [click to read]. His persona is amazing. I've been a fan since "Friend or Foe." I also love AZ [click to read], Biggie, Masta Ace [click to read], Ras Kass [click to read], The Roots [click to read], Lil Wayne [click to read], Drake and Canibus [click to read].
Beauty & Brains: Damn, I haven’t heard the name Canibus in ages. [Laughs] Did you check out the VMA’s? What did you think about Kanye’s outburst?
Kimya: I didn’t see it, but I heard about it…I think maybe he shouldn’t have done that…
Beauty & Brains: You were an extra in Lil Wayne’s "Lollipop" video…when dealing with high-profile artists like Wayne, is there added tension between the girls on set as to who gets more camera time and who’s in the background?
Kimya: Of course! You know everyone that was an extra had a little bit of an attitude. They were acting like they were gonna end up being Lil Wayne’s girlfriend or something. [Laughs]
Beauty & Brains: How so?
Kimya: People were just being snotty not being very friendly to people were there. Especially to the first-time girls. They weren’t mean to be specifically, but as a girl, you can tell the attitudes.
Beauty & Brains: In general, how has the industry been treating you? Do you feel like you’re given the respect you deserve from the photographers, video directors, crew and whomever else?
Kimya: I’m still breaking ground in the industry, but I’ve already come across many photographers that are full of themselves and just want to get girls in the sack.
Beauty & Brains: How did you handle yourself in those situations?
Kimya: I just didn’t work with them after that.
Beauty & Brains: Why would you stay even though you were being disrespected?
Kimya: I was already there so it’s like I might as well stay and get the job done. I didn’t feel in danger, I just wasn’t comfortable with the situation. There have been one or two shoots that I didn’t finish though. It just wasn’t professional it was time to go.
Beauty & Brains: So how do you avoid situations like that again? What advice could you give others just starting out in the industry who encounters shady photographers?
Kimya: Definitely get referrals. Ask someone you know that’s worked with the photographer before.
Beauty & Brains: Has it been the same for men you meet out in public? Do you ever get disrespected by men who think you are just a sex object?
Kimya: I always get a good reaction out of men when they meet me and speak to me…but you know…every squirrel wants a nut.
Beauty & Brains: I think beyond the prejudgments people may have, others often wonder why women would put themselves into such a short-lived career. You can’t exactly expect yourself to be doing this when you’re 40 or 50 years old…do you have a plan for the next step in your life?
Kimya: Possibly acting or clothing line. Something for when I can’t be sexy anymore. [Laughs]
Beauty & Brains: So you plan on taking a similar approach to someone like Melyssa Ford who has since branched out into a more socially-acceptable
Kimya: I’m not really worrying about what people think of as "socially acceptable." Hugh Hefner gets women naked in his magazine and the world praises them. I mean, honestly, did you even know who Kim Kardashian was before her porno? Now she is one of the world’s top socialites. She is very beautiful and that’s all people care about. People tend to be confused about what socially acceptable is.
Beauty & Brains: Good point! On my DX blog, I asked the readers what they thought about video vixens, and the general consensus on models that bare their skin is that “the woman might not be a whore but she’s wearing a whore’s uniform” How do you react to that?
Kimya: If I know that I can bank off of showing what God gave me naturally, am I "in a whore’s uniform," or am I a business woman? The only people saying that are women who aren’t comfortable in their own skin or men that have the nerve to talk trash but still look at us. If they don’t like it, I’d rather they just defer their attention.
Beauty & Brains: Do the stigmas and pre judgments bother you?
Kimya: It used to, a lot—I’m not going to lie. But I realized that as long as my family and friends still love me and are there for me, then I’m okay. They are the only ones I am here to impress.
Beauty & Brains: But I’m sure it must be intimidating for men. Do you think your profession makes it easier or harder for you to date?
Kimya: Much harder because it kinda makes people feel that I’m not down to earth.
Beauty & Brains: So you’re not prissy or high maintenance?
Kimya: I set myself on a scale…so if I am "high maintenance" for some then maybe they just don’t have the skills needed to maintain me. The right man would be able to handle me.
Beauty & Brains: So that’s a yes then [laughs]. Do you prefer to exude the same over the top sexiness in the way you dress when you aren't working just to keep the fantasy going? You can’t be flawless in a video then plain Jane in person…or can you?
Kimya: I love to feel and look fabulous always. You don’t necessarily have to show skin to be sexy. It could all be in the eyes and mind as well. My aura alone would keep the fantasy always going.
Beauty & Brains: Finally, What’s one thing about you that you think people would be surprised to hear about you?
Kimya: I’m a huge comic book fan, and I love The Justus League. [Laughs]