Nicki Minaj: ‘I didn’t realize how many girls were modern-day prostitutes’


Nicki Minaj covers the latest issue of Elle. This is part of her big comeback – she’s been making some low-key moves here and there for the past few months, and she’s got a new album, Queen, and several singles have already been released. I don’t even remember Minaj making a big deal about how she was going to take a break at the time, but she really was low-key for several years. 2017 brought the drama with Remy Ma, wherein Remy dropped “shETHER” and Minaj stayed silent about the beef. I actually forgot that happened just last year, actually. Anyway, Karl Lagerfeld photographed Minaj for Elle, and you can see the full cover package here. Some highlights:

On being single for the first time since she was 15: “I remember feeling like I could do anything at one time in my life and somewhere along the line, I just started second guessing myself for whatever reason. As soon as I realized that I could actually live and breathe, and eat and sleep, and walk and talk, without having a boyfriend, something clicked in me. Becoming single was one of the things that made me feel strong and powerful. The fact that I am a young woman who doesn’t need a man for money. I don’t need a man for a job. I’ve never had to f–k for beats. I’ve never had to f–k for a record deal. I don’t have those pressures. I get up when I want, shop when I want.”

Her new message: She says it’s about “it being okay to keep your legs closed… I don’t really know how to say that without being offensive. Maybe I was naïve, but I didn’t realize how many girls were modern-day prostitutes. Whether you’re a stripper, or whether you’re an Instagram girl—these girls are so beautiful and they have so much to offer. But I started finding out that you give them a couple thousand dollars, and you can have sex with them. I was like, Yikes. It’s just sad that they don’t know their worth. It makes me sad as a woman. And it makes me sad that maybe I’ve contributed to that in some way.”

Whether she feels like she’s reckoning with her sexed-up persona more now: “I’ve always felt like it. But in a lot of ways, I don’t know if I’m doing the same thing they’re doing, because I’m selling sex appeal. So I can’t look down on these girls. I may not be having sex with people, but I’m still selling sex appeal…. But I just don’t know if girls who look up to me think that when I’m posting a sexy picture. I’m actually the antithesis of all of that. I’m more of, like, the snobby girl, like the ‘Uh, what’ type of girl. And I want girls to be like that. I’d rather you be called snobby or a bitch or conceited—I’d rather you be called that than easy, and a ho, and a slut.”

On trap taking over rappers: “I feel like true icons shift music, uplift music, switch music, have the balls to take a chance. The things that people do come so easy to me. I could do it in my sleep. But I’m such a perfectionist that when something is too easy to me, I actually feel guilty. It would’ve been so easy to listen to all the trap music out there right now and say, ‘Let me just copy this.’ But I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself… The truth of the matter is, trap has taken over so much that even our New York rappers are doing nothing but trap songs, because they feel that that’s the way to make it. They’re rapping like people from the south.”

[From Elle]

She also talks about Meek Mill, and how she met with the judge overseeing Meek’s case, and a lot of different things about her album. As for what she says about her sexy persona and how she wants girls and women to know that they don’t have to be prostitutes in her name… I understand what she’s saying, and I think she was taking pains to not sound “slut-shaming.” She wants to make it clear that girls and women can do what they want and post beautiful thirst-trap photos of themselves… and not sleep with any of the guys they’re thirst-trapping. Minaj even sounds a bit old-fashioned and prudish, which is fine with me. She’s clearly not judging those women, she’s just saying that there’s obviously another way to BE.

NM 3

Photos courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld for Elle Magazine, sent from promotional Elle email.

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77 Responses to “Nicki Minaj: ‘I didn’t realize how many girls were modern-day prostitutes’”

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  1. Lala says:

    There are way too many people in this world…who can ONLY feel tall…if they stand on the backs of others to keep them down…that’s Nicki…and her saying that she had NO IDEA THAT WOMEN TRADED SEX FOR MONEY?!?! OMG!!! That’s the BIGGEST plank in the platform of the industry she’s in…Chile, just quit!!!!!

    • I rarely comment but... says:

      I’m not one to agree with slut-shaming usually, but this doesn’t feel like slut shaming. It feels more like she’s trying to correct a message that she feels responsible for portraying. And the reason why I agree with her is because realistically, a lot of the instagram girls now are suuuuuuuper young. Some of them are even 14, 15 posting nearly naked pictures that grown men comment on with the dirtiest comments. I know that parents are responsible for parenting their kids but the reality is that the kids today idolize these celebrities and think that the path to success is lined with instagram thirst traps and sex.

      • Geekychick says:

        If she’s trying to correct a message she carries, why not change her ACT, not her words? do you really think that her teenage fans will change their mind while reading her interview, as opposed to all of her pics on IG and else?
        And yes, parents should raise their children. If parents don’t have an hour to discuss the realities of showbussiness with their kids, they shoud rethink their parenting.

        I don’t get all the pearl-clutching, tbh: models are getting increasingly younger since the late 90ies and early 00s. Kate moss was 14 when she started. Models are teenagers for the last 15 years, at least. And now we are suddendly, once again lamenting the connection between sex work, exploitation, teenagers in the industry, like it’s something new, just discovered? I don’t get it.

  2. Millennial says:

    All I got was, “I’m not like those OTHER girls” e.g. the slutty ones who have to screw for tracks. And maybe criticize the producers who put women in those positions, rather than the women trying to have careers?

    • Lala says:

      Whether the sex is done on the front end (Nicki) or the back end…sex sells…and SEX is the biggest marketing tool that she has used regarding her career…and it’s not even an ORIGINAL tool…so this is why I’m confused at her stance…because it’s…dare I say it…DUMB?!?! She states that she’s sad that she contributed to the hypersexuality of women in hip-hop in someway…yet her new publicity photos could easily be in Playgirl as a centerfold….However, I AM enjoying the dragging she is getting because of that stance…from folks who would…you know…be the ones that would buy her record…it’s what she deserves…ESPECIALLY after what went down with her inhumane brother…that she wholeheartedly supported…she’s talking about empowerment…YET she has said nary a word about THAT crime!

      • Jordan says:

        She copied Lil Kim and I see shades of Trina in what Nicki emulates. Only they did it so much better. I mentioned downthread Remy’s diss got air but people are forgetting Kim’s Black Friday. I still listen to it once a week 🔥🔥

  3. laulau says:

    LOVE the cover and red dress shot but that interview is so bad. It seems so passive-aggressive. One of those women who criticizes you in a way they can plausibly deny even though EVERYONE knows they’re being shady.

    • susiecue says:

      Totally agree. I don’t really like Minaj she always seems so petty. But the outfit on the cover is amazing!

    • Milla says:

      The cover is fantastic. As for the interview… Well, i get what she’s trying to say, but she’s so small compared to those behind the scenes. She’s selling whatever they tell her. I like older bands and artists and I’m always watching some old interviews. They have almost no control over what they present…

  4. Ophelia says:

    I’m sorry if I’m not reading her right, but she comes across as a little bit sanctimonious and victimblaming. I see very little in terms of her criticizing the system, or outlining the ways in which we or she is trying to do better or fight the system.

    This, I think, is the problem with a lot of the #metoo sounding people, they continue to put the onus on the young women being preyed don’t do this don’t do that, when in fact the people in power needs to change the system (some already did, eg with inclusion riders), or set up alternative systems, eg Reese W and Geena D setting up production companies that specifically work with women writers directors.

    We don’t need more articles about how girls should do this and that. We already got that on a daily basis from multiple sources ffs. We need more articles that put all the despicable people and system on the spotlight.

    • Elle says:

      I felt she was sanctimonious too, Ophelia. She’s drawing the line to suit her purposes. She says she is subverting exploitation when she posts a sexy photo. Well, maybe those women think they are doing the same thing when they have sex for money.

    • Geekychick says:

      Ophelia and Elle, I agree. she is selling her work not on the basis of her talent(and she is talented!!), but her hypersexualized image. And then she turns around and says that others shouldn’t sell something other for success.
      how is she helping the change?
      hos is she changing the industry?
      by saying “do as I say, not as I do”?
      not enough. this is all just slut shaming, and a misoginistic at that: “all those other girls are prostituting themselves, but not me. never me.”
      no, you’re prostituting your image, Nicki, they-their bodies. and if you feel that yours is better than theirs, it just proves you’re still thinking in the same, centuries-old chauvinistic classist mode of “virginity/purity is the most precious thing that a woman can have”. smh.

    • minx says:

      Yes, exactly.

    • otaku fairy says:

      Right- it’s one thing for someone to change or go back and forth over time in what she does or doesn’t want to do with her body, and there are ways to say ‘You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket/ do this thing over here.’ But unfortunately, that’s not really what this sounds like. Women as a group are trained early on to be very self-flagellating when it comes to issues like sexual morality and feminism. There’s always so much pressure on us to fall into the patriarchal trap of blaming ill-treatment and inequality on either our own or other individual women’s ‘sluttiness’, and some of that is definitely coming through in her interview.

  5. JAC says:

    She uses her sex appeal and that is perfectly fine, but is there a female rapper who’s popuoar who doesn’t? I’m not that familiar with hip hop, but I can’t think of a female rapper who is making it big and keeping her clothes on?

    • Renee2 says:

      Missy Elliott is a rapper who doesn’t hypersexualize herself. People still love her even though she’s not active right now.

      • kodakay says:

        You are right, and yes, I still love her.

      • Bridget says:

        Missy is one of the best ever. If you want to prove your point you need more than just one example.

      • Renee2 says:


        I assume your comment was directed towards me. To clarify, Jac stated that they couldn’t think of A woman rapper who didn’t sexualuze themselves so I provided ONE name. But there is also Da Brat, Queen Latifa, Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte… I’m not that familiar with rappers/hiphop but other examples do exist.

      • Enough Already says:

        Every rapper who has built her career on her talent and not sex appeal happens to be gay, bisexual or long rumored to be. I think that’s more than coincidence. It’s possible that the strength to live your life outside of social norms also made these women less susceptible to the tactics of misogynistic music industry execs. Still, they are proof that it can be done if you want to and yes, it’s also okay if some female rappers want to package themselves sexually. Lastly, Minaj is a dumpster fire of a human being.

      • magnoliarose says:

        @EA Absolutely true about women rappers. They had to be hard and uninterested in men to be left alone to express themselves.

    • Betsy says:

      Leikeli47? She wears a mask like a balaclava – that’s pretty asexual.

    • Kim says:

      Missy Elliott is THE SHIT! Love her.

  6. littlemissnaughty says:

    Wait, what? So she wants us to know that while her entire image is built on sex, she is the antithesis of what people perceive her to be? Then maybe that’s a messaging problem.

  7. broodytrudy says:

    She defended her brother after he repeatedly raped a child. 100% cancelled for me.

    • Betsy says:

      Oh lord, really? She’s never been one of my favorites just because her persona and music were so hypersexualized and that’s just not my interest, but excusing rape, even if by a sibling…. I can see standing by the sibling, but excusing it is unacceptable.

    • I rarely comment but... says:

      Woah, I had no idea she did that. That’s beyond awful.

    • df says:

      yep her self-serving feminism is just that. and she constantly supports her rapist brother, there’s a reason why it’s not common knowledge

    • Chaine says:

      Same here. Once you throw in your lot with a rapist pedophile, it’s kind of hard to get back in my good graces.

    • Geekychick says:

      thank you. this should be opening sentence in every post About Minaj. She defended and funded the defense of a guy who repeatedly raped, mentally abused and tortured a child. FUNDED his defense which, among other things, tried to discredit the mother and child, deliberately called the child to witness stand, hoping the child will break down and give up because of traumas…
      and the witness statements are just….horrible. her brother is a monster and her decision to actively help him has no excuse. Sorry, none. none.

    • Oliviajoy1995 says:

      That’s what I was just going to comment on! Her brother is a child rapist (against his step child I think) and she defended him endlessly. Even basically saying the young girl made it all up. He was convicted though thank God. Very rarely ever talked about though.

      • HelloSunshine says:

        Thank you! The mods ate my comment about it earlier (it was snarky, I won’t lie) but for real, why isn’t she cancelled?? I comment on every article I see with her on here and bring it up because it doesn’t get talked about places.

  8. magnoliarose says:

    She isn’t wrong about the IG models. What she said is the truth and I hope parents reading her interview start to realize that IG is the modern day MySpace and many many of the models, even those whose careers seem legitimate are also advertising on IG. It sickens me because impressionable teenagers copy them and think they are going to be huge stars not even realizing how many of those famous women are also escorting. How many washed up Victoria Secret models are on there doing it? I don’t like that this is something that isn’t upfront and known because it is so easy for a scumbag to lure an unsuspecting aspiring model and exploit her. There is a whole system behind this that people who aren’t connected to the fashion industry would not know.
    Anyway, she is right to put that out there so girls and women can protect themselves.
    But some of the other stuff is strange coming from her. Is she rethinking her decisions from the past and trying to warn other women? I am not sure. I am not getting slut shaming from her but I could be wrong and need to read the whole article later.

    • Lynnie says:

      Yeah a few interesting tell-alls are gonna come out of that IG set in the next few decades. I heard magazines like Paper and Love kinda function as escort services too. The whole industry is a mess to say the least

    • perplexed says:

      I actually had no idea Instagram models sleep with men for money. I just thought they were posting pictures to fit “in” or some norm of sexy. I can’t believe how naive I am.

      • otaku fairy says:

        Some actually are just posting sexy/beautiful pictures of themselves as models or wannabe models on sites like instagram, but there are people using it for sex work as well. I’ve seen it mentioned in a few articles on Jezebel.

  9. Meggles says:

    It’s a little swerf-y, but she’s right, the entertainment industry and the music industry especially absolutely have a culture where it’s assumed women can be purchased for the right price.

  10. Umyeah says:

    Did anyone hear the story about Future flying an instagram model to him but when she refused to have sex with him he kicked her out with no flight home. Now she is touring with Future, hmmmmm

  11. Honey says:

    Perhaps it’s just the Monday morning blues but aren’t all of us humble wage-earners prostitutes in one form or another? We sale our skills and talent for an agreed upon salary or hourly wage. As a matter of fact, if I don’t get moving, I’m going to get caught in the swarm of bottom-b*tches (the brown-nosers, butt kissers, and the watchers) that I work with. I can’t take them on a Monday. It’s best that I get in and out early, making it known that I’m spending the day making site visits (checking on the other prostitutes who, like me, earn just a little over enough to stay but who’d like to quit and are looking for other nonetheless).

    • Naddie says:

      If prostitution is not only linked to sex, then yes, we all are sometimes.

    • otaku fairy says:

      L.O.L. You’re right. A lot of work involves profiting off of one’s body in some way. In a lot of situations just claiming a dependent exemption on a tax return is profiting off of one’s body.

  12. Joy says:

    Let’s call it what it is. She’s trying to shade Cardi B.

    • Elva says:

      Thisssss. The first profession she mentioned having “modern day prostitutes” was strippers. A former stripper is having more success than her right now and she can’t stand it, so she decided to wrap it up in some sexist, classist bullsh*t to hide her low key diss on Cardi.

    • stinky says:


  13. HK9 says:

    There’s a way to address this without making others wrong, but Niki doesn’t communicate at that level. The last time I saw an image of Niki she was wearing a pair of nipple covers and a matching bikini bottom. She uses sex to sell EVERYTHING she does so let’s not point at others.

  14. Kashmir says:

    she doesn’t have to f—-k for beats or a record deal NOW..but Nicki you started from the bottom like every one’s disgusting but true, you can’t erase your past an look down on others for following your foot steps

  15. Elva says:

    What she said is some sexist, classist bullsh*t, full stop.

  16. Lila says:

    Nicki seems desperate these days. Judging by her lyrics she’s trying to convince everyone that she could be married with 5 babies at any second, she just CHOOSES not to..which I don’t think I believe in this particular case because she has the WORST taste in men.
    Plus, I get that some women enhance or change their bodies for themselves, which, again, is not the case here for sure. Nicki has paid hundreds of thousands to fit the standards of rap industry imposed by men
    Anyway, why media is silent about Nicki Minaj and her “Chun Li” video and live performance? she’s wearing lots of national symbolics. Or this is not a cultural appropriation because she’s a WOC? Or because Asian and Black people have never been racist to each other for ages? (sense the skepticism)

    • Renee2 says:

      Individual and communities of Asian and and Black people have both historically and continuously been racist towards one another, but it’s really complicated to begin to unpack here. Nicki’s Chun Li imagery/persona IS hella problematic, I am writing this as a Black woman. I would also like to point out that Nicki Minaj is biracial, her father is desi, he is Trinidadian-Indian. So technically she is Asian, although not East Asian, and I have never heard or read a statement about how she self-identifies.

  17. Inad says:

    Hilarious, coming from her.

  18. Naddie says:

    Confusing, to say the least. I often hear this speech from hypersexualized women. I believe Katy Perry said something like “cover your bodies” some years ago, the same Katy who has an almost naked album cover.

    • df says:

      i heard it from selena gomez who then released an almost naked picture of herself on instagram…

    • otaku fairy says:

      Usually this speech tends to come from women who pride themselves on being ‘classier’ (vom) than Nicki Minaj or other openly immodest women. It’s just as problematic when they do it- just slightly less hypocritical.

      Oh Nicki, where to begin with this mess?
      -”But I started finding out that you give them a couple thousand dollars, and you can have sex with them. I was like, Yikes. It’s just sad that they don’t know their worth.” Wait, so wouldn’t that logic have to mean that any woman who presents a ‘classy’ and keeps her legs closed (except to her one man) thinks THAT’S her worth? The same argument could be used against women who continue to have babies. Shouldn’t we already be at a point where we allow women to make decisions about their bodies on their own terms without taking that as a statement on the woman’s worth as a human being? And what’s with this idea that sex is something that one had better have a damn good reason for ‘giving up’?

      -”It makes me sad as a woman. And it makes me sad that maybe I’ve contributed to that in some way.” If that was how prostitution worked, everybody would be doing it- we’ve all looked at, read, or listened to something that features nudity and/or sexuality. Seeing modestly dressed folks doesn’t magically make people abstinent either. Does she not get that sex workers have been around longer than any of us discussing this have been alive?

      - “ So I can’t look down on these girls. I may not be having sex with people, but I’m still selling sex appeal…. I’m actually the antithesis of all of that.;; I’d rather you be called snobby or a bitch or conceited—I’d rather you be called that than easy, and a ho, and a slut.” Instead of making women responsible for avoiding the wrath of misogynists- a tactic that plays right into fear being used as a tool to control women and their sexuality- why not focus on holding men and women accountable for their own misogyny, and lessening its influence on others?

      • Naddie says:

        This point about babies is spot on. It is still a thing in the poorest places in my country; man wants unprotected sex, the woman has no choice, and the result is a miserable, numerous family.

  19. Jordan says:

    Remy’s diss was awesome but why doesn’t anyone talk about Lil Kim’s Black Friday? Pharoh Monarch’s Simon Says is the beat, Kim murdered her.

    Her new singles are lackluster. Chun Li is catchy only cause of the chorus.

  20. Geekychick says:

    Nicki Minaj who:
    1. paid for defense of her brother, who repeatedly raped and threatened a CHILD should not talk about morals or other people’s choices
    2. someone who built and keeps building her career on sex (where is the line between sex and sexy look? she’s not selling her sexy look, because women are not emulating her fashion choices-she is selling her nudity and sexual desirability, let’s be honest. her promotional imiges are usually not made to revolutionize or change the conversation, they are made to accentuate her “sexy” proportions). It’s all for the male gaze.
    this is such obvious slut-shaming, it’s not even funny. She is creating and selling her image to and for the male gaze. Her main visual point is to please the male eye in sexual desirability. Between that and prostitutes, the only difference is what they trade-Minaj her image, her looks, her brand-day to day: prostitutes the act of sex. what is more shameful is just the question of how chauvinistic you are: prostitutes are selling the act for a few hours, you are selling yourself short and sending the message that talent is less important if you’re ready to sex it up for the public, going to the extreme,Minaj.
    I respect prostitutes more, tbh.

  21. Kristen says:

    Do you think she’s trying to quietly shade Cardi-B?

    It feels like Cardi-B is the new Niki and she was a stripper and LOVED it.


    • Rebecca says:

      Yes. That’s exactly what I was thinking. She’s always been jealous of other female rappers. I think this is some subtle shade directed at Cardi B.

  22. Jessica says:

    Oh, for God’s sake. One of this hypocrite’s most successful and popular songs is literally called “Stupid Hoe” in which the main lyrics are “You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe” over and over and over again. F*cking spare me, woman.

  23. Originaluna says:

    I agree with what she said especially regarding the modern day “prostitutes”. Even here in Southern Africa we see our neighbors from well known families selling themselves for gucci and louis vuitton shopping sprees. Seriously, they are constantly on vacations, spas,flying first class everywhere yet no one knows where they work. Through instagram you just see them emulating the kardashians but through the grapevine everyone knows their price points and sugar daddies.
    So maybe I just agree because of my experience here, 20 year olds living lives that our terrible economy would never allow, and sex is cheap currency here.
    I see/follow nicki since the beginning yet i never walked around with my goodies out, however I think its ok if she wants to accept some responsibility for her image.

  24. CurrentUI says:

    They both sell sex, but her work does lot more damage to society a lot than those others’ she is trying to shade

    • Geekychick says:

      Bravo! You said it perfectly, stated the whole problem in one sentence!

    • otaku fairy says:

      This message doesn’t really seem all that different from Nicki’s message though. Both blame oppression on women saying ‘no’ to female sexual modesty

  25. Tiffany :) says:

    Silly me! I thought she was going to talk about modern day sex-trafficking and the many lives that are endangered because of it.

  26. Anna says:

    Not here for the slut shaming or for her vile attitude toward sex workers. She needs to stfu especially given who she is and what she has done. First of all, sex work is a valid living and we need to stop giving weight to those who want to see us all end up in the Handmaid’s Tale and start supporting women, supporting each other. Not every sex worker is there by choice but some are and regardless, I’m so sick of the sanctimonious b.s. she’s spewing “oh, I’m sorry I didn’t realize that y’all are hoes” gtfoh Sick of this. Let women live, geez.

    • otaku fairy says:

      Agreed. I honestly don’t look down on either- not women (or men) who choose to make money off of sex they’re having and not on women wanting a sexually immodest image. TBH, I actively like it when the latter happens- for a couple of reasons.

    • JaneFr says:

      While I hate slut shaming, I’m sorry to say that you are wrong about prostitution.
      Sex work is not a valid living. Not because of some backward morales. But because the statistics about suicide, addictions, etc, are nothing but horrific and eyes opening. Even among the ones who claim to have chosen.

      I’m not sure nicki minaj is the best one to talk, but there is a modern-day prostitution that should be discussed, especially with the young girls who do not immediately realize until too late, they are being prostituted / are prostitution themselves.

      • otaku fairy says:

        You’ll find high rates of depression, suicide, anxiety disorders, self-harm, etc. with women, people who are gay or bisexual,-binary, and people who are non and people who are transgender too though. What sex workers and all these (sometimes overlapping) marginalized groups of people have in common is the way they’ve been treated. Dehumanization of a group of people will often lead to some unhealthy consequences.

  27. Naddie says:

    Now, is she regreting her persona? Is that what it is?

  28. Blonde555 says:

    That’s rich coming from her.

  29. Yes Doubtful says:

    I like a lot of her music and I think she’s very talented, but I find her personality to be extremely unlikable in the past couple of years. Her ego is insane. I think this is why Caridi is doing so much better than Nicki is right now. Cardi is likable and a better entertainer.