Sat | Nov 16, 2019

Fascinating fight of the fluff

Published:Thursday | April 21, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Miss Kitty
File Yanique
Dancehall Queen Carlene

Now that the battle of the divas, curvy and fluffy, has been publicly pacified, it is a good time to take a good look (and I mean that literally) at the ladies involved and what it says about the Jamaican male's taste (take that figuratively or literally as you like) in women.

Yanique, the curvy one, and Miss Kitty, the fluffy one, are given prominent roles on the annual Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall competition, not only because of their voices and presentation abilities, but also their body types. Note carefully - I am not saying that they are on the popular televised clash competition only because of how they look. They are not part of the Panty Posse, a set of young female dancehall artistes who have become more prominent over the past five years or so by performing variations of a strip show on stage, covering up their lack of vocal and lyrical ability.

The Magnum divas are there because of their presentation skills, complemented by their body type. But it is the body type which has had the men, especially, glued to the screen.

I dare to make a sweeping statement, knowing that such broom-related pronouncements are almost always incorrect, that the Jamaican male in tune with dancehall is universally appreciative of women with fluffs and curves. I support it with a couple examples.

One - during a Sting concert at Jamworld, Portmore, a particular performer was introduced as being extremely beautiful and the audience was prompted for their agreement. I happened to be among a group of men who were eating peanuts, drinking Dragon and Guinness, smoking weed and having a great time. They looked at the woman, made no comment; then, after about 10 seconds, one of them observed "tin like a Rizzla."

Two - I have seen Leroy Sibbles perform Fatty Fatty several times and the reaction is always the same. The men roar and the fluffy ladies walk out. Of more recent musical vintage is Assassin's Mix This, in which he states his preference for a "slim girl mix with a fatty/me a talk bout small wais' big 'b...y'." Throw in Flourgon's Big 'B...y' Gal from the 1980s into the mix of the ton of songs which celebrate the plump derriere. There are no similar joyous lyrics about the 'Flat Bridge' ladies.

fluffy before fluffy

Three - Carlene is the perennial Dancehall Queen, despite not having won a formal competition at the level of the annual summer contest in Montego Bay, St James. And in the height of her stint in the dancehall, made fluffy trendy fluffy. I dare say, no surgery. I remember being at the Reggae Sunsplash when it made a brief stop at Jamworld, Portmore (darn, over 20 years ago), and going to her booth where she was selling some virility products.

I was trodding with a brethren called 'Reject', and after a while we said we were not buying anything, we just wanted to look at her. She smiled and said OK. So we stuck around and did.

How does all this tie into the divas' tussle? If they were 'slimmas', even if they were on the show, their spat would not mean much. When women with body have an altercation, it has a different impact. Dancehall is in tune with women who have body, which is in contrast to the Caucasian 'mawga' stereotype. This makes it an important site of resistance to the imposition of a white standard of beauty - and a damned good-looking one, too.