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WOMEN WE LOVE

A sentence I never thought I’d write: “Let’s take a moment to appreciate Mariah Carey” 

Because Mariah Carey is winning at life 

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By Marisa Bate on

“Is she?!” I hear you recoil in horror because you can’t allow yourself to believe that those diamanté-covered boobs, which seem to grow bigger each year, like her divaness and her record sales and her number of partners, are really worthy of celebration in our modern era. But stay with me, because to be Mariah is the closest thing to being the human embodiment of Miss Piggy and that is to be a thing of shimmering, Photoshopped, dazzling wonder. 

Let’s start at the fact that it’s Christmas and Mariah Carey wrote a ridiculously fabulous Christmas song, which racks her up an estimated extra £376,000 every year – like a Mariah Christmas bonus to herself for creating a tune that thousands will screech at the top of their lungs after too much pinot in a pub in Holborn throughout the month of December. But what’s £376,000 when your net worth is estimated at $520m? Well, when you're battling with your former fiance, who is worth $.3.4bn – who, allegedly, didn’t like your excessive spending habits – every little helps. 

Mariah’s wealth comes from doing something: having a talent – this strange unwritten contract that used be pretty important before somebody leaked Kim Kardashian’s sex tape

Is this sort of money grotesque? Like the sickly sparkly colours of her recently launched make-up range, which I can’t help but imagine will also smell like a My Little Pony? Well, of course. But Mariah made her money by writing songs that sit close to your heart, for singing songs in which only dogs can fully appreciate the full vocal range and that sell 200 million albums. Mariah’s wealth comes from doing something: having a talent – this strange unwritten contract that used be pretty important before somebody leaked Kim Kardashian’s sex tape. 

I usually think it’s pretty sexist to talk about a successful woman’s children, but in Mariah’s World, which happens to be the name of her new eight-part series on E!, I think talking about her children is unavoidable; not only because she posts pictures of them hanging out with Beyoncé and Blue Ivy, but also because her twins are called Moroccan and Monroe, for which she has ingeniously developed the hashtag #rocandroe, for when she drags them on stage and forces little Roe to pose “like Mommy”. Yet, despite the look of general terror in her children’s eyes, this is their fate. Because, when your mother plays a live version of one of her songs as you are born, in order that you enter the world to "the sound of applause", there really is no other choice for you but to accept that your mother’s shrewd entrepreneurial knack of launching make-up, developing TV shows, appearing on America’s Got Talent and listening to her own music during childbirth is not, in fact, a megalomaniac wild hunt to fulfil the world’s most insatiable ego. No, it’s because it’s in your genes – and your diamond-encrusted ripped mini jeans – to be fabulous. And the world – and the tabloids – should know your name. 

But the thing I love about Mariah, just like I love Miss Piggy’s karate kicks, is that Mariah is completely 100 per cent in charge. She knows we’re laughing, but she’s laughing right there with us – all the way to the halls of fame for being one of the most successful female recording artists of all time. She is pulling all the strings, wearing her diva behaviour much like she wears nothing but bubble bath and champagne in her completely absurd MTV Cribs episode – knowingly, outrageously, sticking two fingers with a contented smirk up at all those who have ever had the audacity to doubt her.  

This week, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor died. She was 99 and light years ahead of Mariah in terms of creating a larger-than-life diva persona, but the similarities are striking. As Mark Lawson writes in The Guardian, “Gabor was a personal experiment in becoming an American princess, combining Mitteleuropa breeding with Hollywood glamour in a way that enchanted gossip columnists and TV producers.” Mariah came from mixed-race heritage: her father was of African-American and Afro-Venezuelan descent, while her mother is of Irish stock. Both Zsa Zsa and Mariah are characters of the American Dream, where everyone was (once) welcome, anything is yours for the taking if you work hard enough and where self-belief is your only barrier. And, although Zsa Zsa was saying “dahlink” decades before Mariah, Mariah may have taken her crown as American princess of our times – in all her carnations, from the 90s velvet-dress-wearing, natural bouncy curled hair to today’s "more is nearly never enough diamonds" version. For both women, underneath their talent to wear their femininity in its most outrageous form – Zsa Zsa had nine (!) husbands; I’ve seen Mariah Carey in a bath more often than I’ve seen my own mother – underneath the demands and the drama, there are two brilliant, shrewd minds who have become the person they want to be, completely by their own making. 

So, this festive period, as Mariah clocks up over £300K for a song she wrote 20 years ago, spare a thought for the American princess, the diva, a woman who is running things completely on her terms. And, every time you screech out, “All I want for Christmas," remember that Mariah – once again – is winning. 

@marisajbate

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