From Marilyn Monroe to Rihanna, the biggest influencers of trends, fashion and lifestyle in every era have been immortalised as pop-culture milestones, used as a valid measurement scale to map trajectories for human progression in many quarters; entertainment, science and even politics.
Basically in any field of human existence ever, there have been people who have been used as trend starting figureheads and revolutionaries, whose impact is used to better understand the human race.
Our Woman Crush this Wednesday Maheeda isn’t the most literal person. She deliberately thrives on grey areas that have made her a favourite for the traffic-obsessed blogosphere where she has been dubbed as one of the most controversial Nigerian celebrities of all time.
Maheeda thrives in her own conflictions and contradictions. As a self-dubbed radical-gospel artiste, she has somehow mastered just how to make the largely conservative Nigerian public furious and enraged, but keep them curious about her at the same time.
She is chronically aware of two major things any African society- from Morocco to Maiduguri- will never accept; a woman actively celebrating her sensuality and a self-proclaimed religious figure who fails to live up to haloed expectations. Yet Maheeda actively glamourizes her sexuality enough to get her banned twice from Instagram while embracing her initial declarations as a born-again Christian whenever the media grants her audience. It may take a second thought considering Maheeda’s inability to put her voice to a song without screaming levels of auto-tune, but somewhere lies some actual artistic value to her brandished public image.
Conservative societies like Nigeria’s are often contradictions of their own contradictions. Behind the moralistic spotlight placed on anything related to sex and religion is no doubt a lingering hypocrisy, as the same people nurse their own fantasies and sexual hangups behind closed doors.
What Maheeda does instead, is live her life in the open for all to see. This bold, poker face hypocrisy can only be likened to a loud Joker-esque laugh in mockery of the shadows we all hide our own sins in while criticising people like Maheeda, who are bold enough to put their baggage in the open.
She is an oblivious mirrior for society to glimpse its own pretence, considering bloggers only keep publishing updates about her latest “nude photo” because they know Nigerians are hungrily clicking the links. This is an almost genius God-level shade and marketing strategy that has kept Maheeda relevant in the Nigerian media for nearly 5 years without any song anyone can sonically stand.
The greatest pop-culture legacy for Maheeda will be the sparking of ideas for a generation of female artistes that will come after her. With the ability to unapologetically embrace their own flaws, actually create art and do just whatever the fuck they want while they’re at it.
Looking at historical precedents, Marylin Monroe rose to fame with just as much controversy at a time sexism was rife and women who were bold enough to acknowledge their sexual desires were classified as whores. She was neither the best actress or singer, nor did she have a body that perfectly fit into Hollywood’s quintessential beauty standards.
But fast forward over 60 years later, Marilyn Monroe is still being represented in style, fashion and legacy by a modern media that went from criticising her subtle nudities to celebrating Nicki Minaj’s buttocks. Maheeda may currently be the crude girl bloggers use to click bait readers today, but tomorrow she could be labeled as the first of her kind in an industry that over censors the same women it over sexualizes.