Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

W e’ve all heard it be­fore – the gaspy whis­per, cou­pled with a dis­ap­prov­ing side-eye: ‘ That’s not very la­dy­like.’ But what does it even mean? To­day, women are break­ing the rules and tak­ing a sledge­ham­mer to so­ci­etal and pa­tri­ar­chal ideas of how they’re sup­posed to be. We all feel the bur­den of ex­pec­ta­tion of fem­i­nin­ity to some de­gree: to sit with our legs crossed, not to swear too much, not to talk about sex the way guys do, to cover up, to silently shrug off leery cat­calls. We’re so­cialised to colour within the lines – to turn a blind eye, be pretty and wear pink.

But more and more of us are throw­ing off those ex­pec­ta­tions. We refuse to sit qui­etly and be­have – we’re act­ing out and speak­ing up. Nowhere is this more ap­par­ent than in the mu­sic in­dus­try, with artists such as Sza singing sar­cas­tic lyrics like, ‘I’m sorry I’m not more at­trac­tive; I’m sorry I’m not more la­dy­like; I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night.’ She re­minds us all to push back against misog­yny – and that men don’t get to po­lice how we rep­re­sent our­selves to the world. We make our own de­ci­sions for our bod­ies and our sex­u­al­ity.

Be­ing un­la­dy­like is a re­jec­tion of a role. It’s about own­ing what you want and shap­ing your own iden­tity; it’s about say­ing no to a fe­male stereo­type. It’s by no means a new thing: women have been an­gry, ragey, pissy and salty since for­ever. We’ve seen women through­out his­tory who don’t give a damn – but only now does it seem to be okay. Women are sick of play­ing nice, and of dress­ing up what they want to say in nice lan­guage.

One of those women is our cover star Cardi B, the strip­per-turned-record­ing sen­sa­tion who’s risen to fame with a brand of un­fil­tered real talk that’s rare. Bo­dak Yel­low made her the first fe­male solo rap­per to top the Bill­board 100 in 19 years (Lauryn Hill was the first) and we, along with her 21-mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, love her for say­ing ex­actly what’s on her mind. Her em­brace of what so­ci­ety would peg as un­la­dy­like is re­fresh­ing: she’s sex­u­ally free and not afraid to call BS when she sees it. She’s also fiercely am­bi­tious, with a mod­ern-day rags-to-riches fairy tale that saw her go from ‘prac­ti­cally home­less’ (she once told Time.com) to rap su­per­star. Cardi’s me­te­oric rise is bold, brash and in­spi­ra­tional AF.

In this is­sue – our ‘Beats’ is­sue – we’re all about em­pow­er­ing you to break the rules, de­fine your own ver­sion of beauty (page 66), claim your voice and use it (like the kweens on page 48), stand up to f*ck­boys on so­cial me­dia (page 90), buy your own home (page 101) and not judge the evolv­ing way of hav­ing re­la­tion­ships (page 40). We’re en­cour­ag­ing you to live your own brand – the good, the bad and the down­right un­la­dy­like.

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