The Video Vanguard Award is one of the only MTV VMA winners that fans know about ahead of the live show. This year’s recipient was Pink, whose epic live performances and 30-plus music videos have made her a favorite at past VMAs. As the Vanguard honoree for 2017, she staged yet another showstopping set — but it was her acceptance speech that really left an impression.
Speaking both to the audience and to her six-year-old daughter, Willow (who wore a suit that matched her mom’s on the VMAs red carpet), the “What About Us” singer recounted a heartbreaking story about something 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.” Naturally, the singer’s first reaction was to go into mama bear mode. But then she went home and “made a PowerPoint presentation” to show her daughter all the “androgynous rock stars” and artists who have changed the world.
“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.” And then, Pink shared some wisdom.
“When people make fun of me, that’s what they use,” she said. “They say I look like a boy, or I’m too masculine, I have too many opinions, my body is too strong.” Pink then asked her daughter if she had ever seen her mom change for the world. She hadn’t, of course. But she has seen her mom succeed.
“We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell, and we make the pearl. We help other people to change, to see more kinds of beauty,” Pink explained before thanking all the other artists in the arena.
At the end of her speech, she looked toward her daughter and said, “You are beautiful, and I love you.”
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(Photos via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images + Frazer Harrison/Getty)