The term “hoe” is taking on a new social identity.

People of color, or POC, on social media and rap culture overuse and emphasize “hoe” as merely a common label and synonym for “gold digger,” “slut” or simply an “uncooperative female.”

This is a quick and ignorant way to put a sexist label on women. Its use has become so widespread it has an intentional and offensive connotation and its use as a blatant synonym for whore has faded into careless and widespread normalcy.

The ‘Hoe’ Who’s Destroying Labels

The #ArtHoe movement is storming social media as a way for women of color to positively reinvent this label, one that generally promotes slut shaming and male chauvinistic ideals, especially within their community.

This trending topic, started by young QPOC co-founders Mars and Jam, is a virtual war against sexist labels, as well as racial and gender stereotypes. Searching the #ArtHoe hashtag will flood your Instagram feed, Twitter timeline or Tumblr dashboard with a colorful and eccentric array of diverse visual and multimedia art, posted by creative POC.

The movement has picked up mass popularity. Even celebrities like Amandla Stenberg and Willow Smith have joined the uprising.

The popular theme is the classic selfie, redone.

Many #ArtHoe selfies are taken in front of famous European works of art by creators such as Pablo Picasso or Vincent Van Gogh, making symbolic statements on the underrepresented beauty of the soft, non-sexualized black woman.

Other #ArtHoe selfies are photoshopped over miscellaneous backgrounds and objects. These images establish ethos by symbolically showcasing young artists’ diverse personalities and inner struggles as young POC trying to escape the inevitable labels and biases placed upon them.

There are also selfies with combinations of lines, marks and symbols carefully and randomly drawn around the artist’s body and face.

Videos include youth promoting and give exposure to their original music or choreography as a form of expression and communication.

The Impact

Not only have these girls and their supporters reinvented the meaning of “hoe” – they have eliminated the vain implication associated with the term “selfie.”

Founders of this movement also invented a multi-platform online forum for POC to artistically express their personal conflicts, shared struggles and daily issues as people of color, through a new kind of art, created by women of color for women of color.

It’s not a borrowed or stolen concept from another group; it’s a completely original and new artform. It’s a movement commonly referred to as the most important art awakening for Black Americans since the Harlem Renaissance.

Social Fad or Seed for Growth?

As with many hip trending topics in social media, will the #ArtHoe campaign become exhausted?

Many times, once an art or social media trend becomes too mainstream, it’s perceived as “basic” or “lame.”

Many times, individuals attempt to steal the main focus or the movement inevitably drifts in an alternate direction.

Hopefully, this movement will continue to positively expand, thrive and encourage young people of color to express their thoughts freely and most imperatively, without labels.

Featured Photo Credit: Top left, Amandla Stenberg’s contribution; top right, Sensitive Black Person co-founder Mars. Courtesy of Mars/Sensitiveblackperson.tumblr.com.

Racquel Royer is a freshman journalism major and may be reached at Royer.racquel.edu@gmail.com.

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