Nicki Minaj and Cardi B
Nicki Minaj and Cardi B (Photo: Rex Features)

OPINION

Postnatal depression isn’t an insult to fling at new mothers

Nicki Minaj’s insult aimed at Cardi B might have been meant as a joke, but it perpetuates a dangerous and unhelpful stigma against mothers with depression

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By Emily Baker on

You might have seen the pictures of rapper Cardi B being escorted out of a Harper’s Bazaar New York Fashion Week party, shoes off and a bump on her head. Moments earlier, she’d been inside, arguing with her alleged nemesis and fellow rapper, Nicki Minaj – an altercation that supposedly ended with Cardi throwing her shoe at Nicki (a move for which she has previous). While it’s sad that we seem unable to have two successful female rappers at one time, both Cardi and Nicki seem to agree.

Aside from a few snide social-media posts, both Nicki and Cardi have been unusually quiet about the fight. That was until Nicki hosted the eighth episode of her Beats 1 radio show, Queen Radio, last night. “The other night I was part of something so mortifying and so humiliating to go through in front of a bunch upper echelon – people who have their life together. The way they passed by looking at this disgusting commotion. I was mortified,” she said of the altercation. It reportedly kicked off because Nicki brought Cardi’s two-month-old baby into their feud. Nicki denied this, but also played a clip of Cardi saying nothing was off limits to her.

And in the spirit of “nothing off limits”, Nicki then directed a number of accusations and insults at Cardi, claiming Cardi had had women who had (allegedly) slept with her husband attacked, she called Cardi a “disgusting pig” and suggested Cardi had slept her way to fame. But the real below-the-belt comment came when Nicki brought up Cardi’s baby again. “Let’s get up a 1-800 number for postpartum depression,” she said.

Around 70-80% of women will experience some sort of low mood after having a baby, and 10-20% will suffer from clinically diagnosed depression. In the US, suicide accounts for one in five postnatal deaths

Celebrity tiffs are nothing new – in hip-hop, it’s a long running part of the culture and, no, it should never have turned into a physical fight. But it’s unlikely Nicki brought it up with genuine concern for Cardi’s mental wellbeing. In Nicki’s eyes, Cardi B is “crazy”, not only because she she allegedly hit her, but because she has just had a baby.

We don’t know whether Cardi suffers from postnatal depression, as she hasn’t spoken about it publicly and that is completely her choice – after all, there may not even be anything to talk about. And, if we were to give Nicki the benefit of the doubt, it was probably meant as a joke. Except, it wasn’t a very funny one. Because postnatal depression is nothing to be laughed about – around 70-80% of women will experience some sort of low mood after having a baby, and 10-20% will suffer from clinically diagnosed depression (though the number of undiagnosed mothers is likely much higher). In the US, suicide accounts for one in five postnatal deaths.

At the risk of turning what could be a fun throwback to an early-noughties celebrity feud into a finger-wagging lecture, postnatal depression is not a phrase or insult to be banded around within this space. It’s a serious topic that gets very little airtime in the public sphere, so when we only hear it from Nicki Minaj, in the form of an insult, real women with a real illness are once again shamed further into the shadows. Most distressingly, they become less likely to get the help they need.

That new mothers with postnatal depression are volatile, dangerous women, who attack people for little to no reason, is an unhelpful and potentially dangerous myth to perpetuate. They are unwell and deserve compassion and help – not vilification.

@emilyrbakes

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Nicki Minaj and Cardi B (Photo: Rex Features)
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Postnatal depression
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