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Video vixens (1986- ) are those half-naked women you see dancing in American music videos. They are also called video girls, video hoes, hip hop models and hip hop honeys. Most are black. They appear especially in hip hop and reggaeton videos – not so much in rock, R & B or country. You see them in swimsuit calendars and in magazines aimed at young black men, like King and Smooth. They are the pin-up girls of our time.

Some of the better known ones are Melyssa Ford, Esther Baxter, Vida Guerra, Buffie the Body, Ki Toy Johnson, Angel Lola Luv, Lizz Robbins, Hoopz and Bria Myles.

But the most famous of all is Karrine “Superhead” Steffans. She did not appear in many videos but she wrote a kiss-and-tell book, “Confessions of a Video Vixen” (2005).

Melyssa Ford says some video girls are loose like Steffans but most are not. They are hard-working and have more self-respect than that.

Video vixens started with Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” (1986), a rock song. They were brought into hip hop by 2 Live Crew with “Me So Horny” (1989), but did not catch on in a big way till about 2000, the year that gave us the “Thong Song” and Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin'”.

A video vixen’s body is all wrong to be a fashion model. Instead of a tall, thin, coat hanger body, she is round in all the places men like (well, at least most straight black men). She is not there to show off clothes but to appeal to men.

Some video girls become actresses but it is hard to make the jump. Hollywood gets its idea of beauty from the fashion industry. So they wind up acting in parts like “Hoochie Mama” and “Woman in Bed”.

To a degree, though, video vixens are helping to broaden ideas of female beauty. A good thing in a country where girls die from trying to get thin.

But at the same time they give many people the wrong idea about black women. Many think they are more or less true to life when they are anything but.

Video vixens are paid to act out a male dream of the world. In the world we live in life is not like that, women are not like that. No, not even black women.

Esther Baxter said the videos are like a Laffy Taffy ad where people’s heads become huge (she is thinking of Airheads). She says parents need to ground their children in the truth and not leave it to television and its dancing girls to bring them up.

Much of the anger against video vixens comes from Christians and feminists. They say women should be shown not as objects of male desire, but as having inner worth and dignity.

And it is only getting worse. Melyssa Ford: “Now it’s about body parts and how well you can shake them. It’s not about the female. It’s not about appreciating the female.” A line has been crossed.

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