The 2017 VMAs have come and gone, but our hearts have not forgotten. A day later, people still can’t stop talking about Taylor Swift’s new video for “Look What You Made Me Do” (not to mention all the Swift clones that the video contains), who wore what on the VMAs red carpet, and the happy 2017 VMAs nominees and winners that got to take home Moon Person statuettes.
But there’s one viral moment from last night’s awards that people won’t soon forget. This unexpectedly powerful moment was Pink’s Vanguard Award acceptance speech, and it has the potential to positively affect society for years to come.
In that speech, Pink addressed both the audience and her six-year-old daughter, Willow (who was wearing a suit that matched the ones worn by her mom and dad on the VMAs red carpet) by sharing a story that happened last week while she was driving Willow to school.
Pink said Willow told her, “I’m the ugliest girl I know” and “I look like a boy with long hair.” From there, Pink said that she took it upon herself to show her daughter all the “androgynous rock stars” who have proven that beauty doesn’t necessarily mean conforming to strict gender roles.
“These are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie,” she said. “And Freddie Mercury and Annie Lennox and Prince and Janis Joplin and George Michael, Elton John. So many artists.”
Pink’s speech may seem like a passing moment, but it struck a chord among members of the LGBTQ+ community, parents, and fans alike:
With high-profile transgender celebrities like Caitlin Jenner and Laverne Cox, gender non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon, and strides to remove gendered award categories from award shows like the VMAs, it might seem like society is “woke” enough to not need celebs like Pink to speak out about how important it is to challenge gender stereotypes. But to think this way would be a potentially dangerous mistake.
The truth is that transgender and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately vulnerable to the experience of violence, bullying, mental health issues and, horrifically, even murder. It’s as important as ever to stand up for ALL kinds of identities and experiences. We’ve made some strides in recent years, but the fight for gender equality has only begun. Now is the time to make sure we keep the ball rolling in the direction of love and acceptance for all.
As Pink said in her speech last night: “We help other people to change, to see more kinds of beauty.” It’s something we’ll need to do together.
(Photo via Kevin Winter/ Getty)