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No "Mercy” from Chloe Bailey and Normani

Normani and Chloe Bailey have officially grown past their childhood stardom and have stepped into a new spotlight after their awe-inspiring performances at the VMAs on Sept. 12. Their unstoppable dance moves and empowering lyrics resonated with women across the country, showing a representation for young women who are growing out of their childhoods and learning to be empowered adults. These performances have left us wanting more from both artists. 

Chloe Bailey’s song “Have Mercy” surged to popularity before its official release date. The song quickly climbed the charts after the initial clip of the song rose to TikTok popularity seemingly overnight. Fellow artist Lizzo has joined in on the dance trend, even Chloe herself performing the TikTok dance to her well acclaimed song. 

Considering the fact that the song had already resonated with people around the world, it is no surprise that the stakes were high for this performance and Chloe didn't disappoint! Reminiscent dance moves like hers mimic the style and flow of Beyoncé. While noting that the Bailey sisters were under mentorships from the queen herself, it is foreseeable that she has chosen to embody the energy that we see Beyoncé bring to her performances. Seeing as Beyoncé is one of Chloe’s former mentors, it is unsurprising that she killed her choreography in her pink ensemble. 

Possibly one of the most iconic moments from the night is Chloe licking her microphone at the end of her performance. In an Instagram post Chloe states that “I swear I didn’t even know I licked the mic til after I watched the performance back.” One of her friends, Cydney Christine even commented “my sis was in the zone.” Chloe’s performance without a doubt left a mark on everyone who viewed it. Chloe has shown young women that it is okay to grow as a woman and embrace your sexuality in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Normani took the stage by storm with possibly one of the most impressive performances at the VMAs with her performance of her new song “Wild Side.'' With her music video for the song reaching 50 million views and her VMA performance at 2.9 million views on YouTube, calling her song a success would be an understatement. 

Her amazing stage presence is not a shock, especially to former Fifth Harmony fans, her ability to connect with the other performers on stage was unmatched. Normani dancing on Teyana Taylor is the moment we all didn’t know we needed until it happened which was reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s well known live stage performances of dancing with one of her fans, symbolizing the unity and power of Black women in R&B. The performances may end, but their actions never fade. 

It is only fitting that she gave the bold performance she did considering that the inspiration behind her set and song are from the legend herself, Aaliyah.  Aaliyah’s uncle even told TMZ that he was “honored” that Normani requested to sample Aaliyah’s song “One in a Million” in her new song. With Normani’s deep ties to the music industry and the excitement of her new album release on the horizon, her VMA’s performance is just the beginning of an exciting fall season for Normani. 

Despite the fact that Chloe and Normani both gave exceptional performances, they were unfortunately met with the recurring misogynoir that is consistently directed towards Black women who proudly embrace their sexuality in this country. 

Janet Jackson is a prime example of this recurring misogynoir following her wardrobe malfunction at the 2006 Super Bowl. While Janet Jackson was scrutinized for her flashing during the performance, despite the fact that Justin was the reason behind the costume tear, he was still able to continue on performing. Justin was not held accountable for this performance and was even allowed to perform again in the 2018 Super Bowl. Justin directly profited from his lack of support towards Janet Jackson, and this country’s willingness to hold Black women liable for the mistakes of white men. 

Normani and Chloe Bailey represent empowerment in their femininity, their bodies, and their blackness through their music, lyrics and dance. They both have shown women that it is okay and positive to embrace your body and sexuality in whatever way you feel safe to do so. This type of hate is not unique to either woman, but rather is a reflection of the misogynistic and racist society that continues to demonize Black women for taking control over their own bodies. 

In a TMZ article following Normani’s VMA performance, there were comments made on the “raunchy” and “inappropriate” performance that she gave at the VMA’s. Black women are never able to please everyone and are constantly scrutinized at a higher level than their white and male counterparts. This was also reflected throughout the blacklisting of Janet Jackson and the appraisal of Justin Timberlake. 

Normani and Chloe received such backlash that was not seen given towards male performers at the VMA’s. Jack Harlow and Lil Nas were praised following their VMA’s performance in a way that Chloe and Normani were not, despite all of the songs containing strong sexual content. These women deserve to be heard in the music industry without the judgement from the male gaze and the hatred given to them from primarily white audiences. 

In a society growing into becoming more culturally diverse, award shows like the VMA’s could reach a higher audience if they were able to deliver an experience that felt as if their performers were equally protected. That protection is not fully given nor seen towards Black women in the music industry. 

Despite the racism and misogyny that Chloe and Normani are forced to endure, their performances remain memorable through their blossoming careers. However, their success and well-being relies on the protection and support of Black women in the entertainment industry and audiences alike. 

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