It’s time to tone down the Amber Alert. Past time, really.
Philly native Amber Rose is not Public Enemy No. 1. Nor did she kill anyone. The 33-year-old biracial, bisexual, buzz-cut blonde beauty also says she didn’t intend to insult Philadelphians when she told an interviewer last month that she grew up in a city where people “aren’t traditionally attractive.”
So if she wasn’t slamming how we look, what exactly was Rose getting at when she said on Revolt’s Drink Champs podcast, “I don’t know how I can say this without sounding [expletive] up, but a lot of the people where I’m from aren’t traditionally attractive people”?
I got a chance to chat with Rose on Wednesday afternoon, and jumped at it.
Look, don’t judge me. Before you start sending off emails calling me a hack — or worse — let me assure you that I’m aware that more important things are going on in the world.
But there was something about Rose’s comments to N.O.R.E., the podcast’s host, that stomped all over a raw nerve in this town. It’s not like Philly has the best self-esteem anyway, and this felt like just another putdown. Pollsters seem to get a kick out of telling us we’re homely. So, in the interest of — ahem — peaceful discourse, I decided to give Rose an opportunity to explain herself.
“I was speaking as far as how social and societal standards portray beauty. [They weren’t] my thoughts on beauty. But doing interviews, sometimes things don’t come out exactly how you want people to hear it,” Rose told me by phone. “You’re saying something and they’re taking it a certain way … I love everyone. I find the beauty in everyone. I’m on record in a million different interviews that I’ve done where I’ve said I find the beauty in everyone.”
She has a point. Look at her dating history.
“I don’t have a particular preference as far as the guys that I date,” said Rose, who has been romantically linked to rappers Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa. “So I’d never point the finger and say, ‘You’re ugly. You’re ugly.’ It’s almost funny at this point, because I never said Philly girls are ugly. Those were never my words.”
But that’s not how a lot of folks took it. Backlash against Rose has been brutal, with people on Twitter and other social media going in hard against the model whose given last name is Levonchuck. I saw a post on Facebook that all but dared her to show up inside Philly city limits. If I were her, I’d stay in Los Angeles and forget about any homecomings any time soon. People even have gone after her mother for what they believe Rose meant by her comments.
“It hurts,” said Rose. “Because, you know, anyone that knows me knows that I’m not that type of person. Especially my own city. They never really had my back from the beginning anyway.”
Black women, whose beauty historically has never been fully embraced in the U.S., took particular umbrage to Rose’s remarks.
“People think that I think that I am superior because I am light-skinned,” Rose said. “I don’t feel that way at all. I dated black women for years. I’ve had full relationships with black women. Dark-skinned black women at that. That’s not a secret, as well.
“It’s just people perpetuating negative stigmas on me because they think that I feel superior, and I do not at all,” she said. “I’ve never said black girls aren’t attractive. I’ve never said anyone in Philly isn’t attractive. I said ‘traditionally,’ which I should have said as far as social and society standards of beauty.
“It just came out the wrong way. I would never say my entire city is ugly.”
I wish her luck living this one down. Philadelphians have a long memory.