Yesterday, news on the social media streets broke that Madam Boss (real name Tyra Chikocho) – the popular comedian who often produces viral online content – had issued a public statement to her fans apologising for wearing a sexy catsuit to the StarFM Music Awards held this past weekend. In her apology, both she and her company wrote the following;
My dear Fans.
Firstly I would like to apologize for my dressing at the STAR FM AWARDS.
As you know I travel a lot,so mukufamba tinoona zvakasiyana siyana [in travelling I get to see different sorts of things] and I really thought this jumpsuit was going to be a show stopper to my fans but overally YOU MY FANS you didn’t accept it that well.
I do what I do for you,so it is with great deepest apologies from the bottom of my heart and I repeat AGAIN I AM SORRY.
I am going to go back to those long dresses because they where more elegant than the jumpsuit.
Ndiri munhu wenyama ndombotadzawo, [I am a flawed human being and sometimes I fail] and I hope you accept my apology.
I love you all and God Bless.
Did anyone deserve an apology from her?
I had not picked up on the initial story when fans allegedly hit back at Madam Boss for her dress choice for the awards, but I can imagine the sort of vitriol, policing and shaming that must have been directed her way during the attack.
Still, I kept hope that the apology was in line with her feisty online persona and that she would retract it today and blissfully declare “asingade haade” (who doesn’t want, doesn’t want) and that if wearing what she likes loses her an audience, then so be it.
But that moment did not come and the apology remained – even though, as a friend observed, “The apology is soo profuse I decided to think she is being sarcastic. That’s how I kept myself from having palpitations.”
Perhaps so – especially the part where she mentioned she would be going be to wearing long dresses because they “were more elegant than the jumpsuit”. Nonetheless, the apology was issued and still stands today. And it makes me sad and angry at the same time.
The policing of those who are already heavily policed
Policing of women’s bodies is nothing new in Zimbabwe, a deeply patriarchal nation space. It is why one of the publications that wrote about the apology led their article as such;
Socialite, madam Boss has apologised to the public for dressing inappropriately at the recent StarFM Awards.
Tyra Chikoko appeared at the weekend function dressed in a “breasts out” outfit that also exposed her sacred form and shape.
“Sacred form and shape?”
Are we really all in 2019?
It is why we have so many stories of women being stripped of their clothes – deemed ‘uncultured’ or too westernised – in public space.
It is why one of the most important ongoing sources of rage in Zimbabwe is around members of the military using brute force to rape and violate women civilians during the recent unrest caused by widespread protests around the rise in fuel prices in January.
It therefore comes as pure irony that as many stand up against the latter form of violation, they also direct such hostility at the feminine form by deeming what a grown woman wears so unsavoury that she must issue a public apology to appease their dissent. Who are these people – many who are receiving free entertaining content from Madam Boss via different social media platforms – whose threats of boycotting her work are so important that she had to apologise for her beautiful sensuality and confidence in body?
This past weekend, in a long and far-reaching conversation, a friend noted to me that, “You can’t fix this country because it’s the people that are broken.” I found the observation quite profound and inn many ways, an example such as this one clearly shows what that statement meant. While an oppressed people ourselves, we further this oppression onto others around us, like us, by policing their ways in much the same way that we are regularly policed.
Madam Boss did not owe us an apology. I don’t accept it because I didn’t deserve it. As an adult, she deserves to wear whatever she wishes, whether or not society finds it acceptable.
Main photograph sourced from iHarare’s Twitter feed.