Earlier this week, Madonna rang in 2019 in the fashion of a true gay icon She celebrated 50 years since the Stonewall riots, performing “Like a Prayer” and giving an empowering speech at the historic West Village gay bar.
Alas, social media lit up following her performance about pretty much anything but those more inspiring moments. Instead, videos and comments launched into unnecessary commentary on the artist’s ass. Amid her beautiful impromptu performance, some took the opportunity to pose the question, “Did Madonna get butt implants?”
It's not like I don't have better things to do, but I just saw Madonna's new ass and handled it well. pic.twitter.com/2BaHsC2Bnw
— michael musto (@mikeymusto) January 4, 2019
— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) January 2, 2019
Madonna, of course, isn’t having it: The 60-year-old singer took to Instagram with a message for her haters, referencing one of her classic ‘80s movies.“Desperately seeking no one’s approval,” she wrote in the caption. “And entitled to free agency over my body like everyone else.”
Madonna has always been audacious about her appearance and imagery, ranging from her iconic Sex book in collaboration with Steven Meisel to the burning crosses in her “Like a Prayer” video that sparked the ire of the Vatican. (She recently told James Corden that the Catholic Church had “excommunicated” her.)
This isn’t the first time Madonna’s backside has caused controversy. When she showed off her butt on the red carpet at the 2015 Grammy Awards, people and critics balked, deeming the appearance “age inappropriate.” At the time, she said, “Bitch, this is what my ass looks like — show me what your ass looks like when you’re 56.” Later, she said she’d be showing off her ass at the age of 56, 66, or 76. “Who’s to say when I can show my ass?” she asked. “It’s sexism. It’s ageism. And it’s a kind of discrimination.”
Unlike other celebrities who cover up or grow more modest in old age — think, to an extent, the likes of Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep — Madonna has barely altered her wardrobe since the early days of her career. In an essay last year for The Cut, Véronique Hyland pointed out that Madonna seems to be playing a different game entirely than, say, the male celebrities who are celebrated for behaving similarly.
Hyland pulled excerpts from Maddona’s speech at the Billboard Awards, where the icon honored David Bowie, noting that he was a formative figure for her career. “He made me think there were no rules,” she said at the time. “I was wrong: There are no rules if you’re a boy.”
She continued with some advice for the women in the audience. “Do not age, because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified, and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”
Hyland writes, “her morally loaded language is no accident — to be female and age unapologetically is still a venal sin in some quarters.”
Hyland’s essay was published in 2017, and much of Madonna’s commentary on her aging happened years before that. But here we are, ringing in 2019 with more of the same.