Who do you picture when someone says female pop star?
Probably someone like Taylor Swift or Rhianna. They're both beautiful, powerful and talented. And despite their different looks and style, one thing they have in common is ability.
When I say "ability" I don't mean the talent required to sing well (we know they have that!), but the ease with which they move through the world. Despite being rich and famous, they're normal. They're "able" to do what most people are able to do, which is walk, talk and function without assistance of any kind. Can you think of a single pop star who has publicly defined herself through her "dis"ability? I couldn't either—until now.
(Photo by Ewelina Stechnij)
Meet Viktoria Modesta. She and her incredibly fierce prosthetic leg are bursting through the barriers of able-bodied beauty, showing the world that different body shapes can be as sexy as the ones we're used to seeing. She sings. She dances. She struts. And she stars in a music video that publicly declares a campaign to confront the narrow definition of beauty that we're comfortable with—and also imagines a future where differently-abled women are revolutionary leaders. Heck yeah, #girlpower.
I especially love that Modesta defines herself as "bionic." She leaves things purposefully vague, but it makes me think of some of my favorite ladies in pop: Janelle Monáe and her android concept albums, Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and "Yoü And I" videos, and Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" video. These artists make themselves into robots or monsters as a metaphor for feeling shut out or excluded.
Modesta has taken a part of herself that might be perceived as scary or bad and turned it into a personal symbol of power—that's something that us performers can definitely relate to. In her words, Modesta's mission "is to promote individualism and futuristic image through art." And she's nailing it.