Four women of color who star on some of the highest rated reality shows on television graced the cover of Vibe Magazine for their latest issue. These four women, Chrissy Lampkin of Love And Hip Hop, Evelyn Lozada of Basketball Wives, Tamar Braxton of The Braxton Family Values and Kandi Buress of The Real Housewives of Atlanta all looked beautiful on the cover of the magazine. The glaring headline admonishes us to meet our new “role models”.
Role Models are generally people who serve as an example of success, a person whose behavior can be a pattern followed by other people, especially those who are younger. Vibe Magazine’s use of the term role model when referring to these women was a provocative move. This was probably intentional and definitely effective in grabbing our attention. There are many who watch these shows and feel as though their behavior is not the type of behavior one would want to pattern themselves after nor would they want other young women to display that type of behavior.
The media has recently been abuzz over current episodes of Basketball Wives in which Evelyn Lozada displays behavior that many call bullying. She hurled a wine bottle and plates at one cast mate for previously calling her “loose” and jumped over a table in order to attack another cast mate. The interview with Vibe gave the ladies a chance to address some of the criticism they have received. While they take responsibility for some of their actions, they also pass some of the blame on to the producers and the editing process. While they do attempt to explain some of their behavior, it takes a turn when the ladies, especially Evelyn, lash out at Star Jones who recently started a petition to boycott her new spin-off show with her fiancé, Chad Ochocinco. Star called the violence on Basketball Wives “horrible and despicable” and implored VH1 not to reward bad behavior by granting her the opportunity to star in her own reality show. Star’s opinion is representative of many Black women in America who have to live with this as the image of themselves that is disseminated to the general public. This image of the violent, self-absorbed bully is not indicative of all Black women. It is not even indicative of these particular women as a whole. They all have families, children, loving relationships and all those things that are present in a lot of other people’s lives. Unfortunately, when these ladies do act this way, the public rewards them with their viewership, increasing their ratings. Subsequently, the people behind the scenes at the networks encourage this behavior because it means more money for everyone, but especially themselves. These women admit that their behavior pays off financially. Evelyn even said outright that she welcomes Star’s petition and any other criticism because it only garners her more attention, which results in more money at the end of the day.
So between the viewing public, the executives and the stars of these shows, there is plenty of blame to go around for this un-role-model-like behavior. Reality television has become a haven for people who have big personalities to act out and even bully others meanwhile being rewarded by more camera time and a big check. All the ladies on the cover of this issue of Vibe have been granted their own spin off shows by their respective networks.
Written by: Kika Ramsay