Cardi B And How Stripping Allowed Her to Leave Her Toxic Relationship

cardi b stripper
credit: JStone/

These days you can catch Cardi B traveling around the world, dropping platinum songs, and slaying on the ‘gram. But the “I Like It” rapper hasn’t always lived a glamorous life. 

Speaking to Vogue for their January 2020 issue, the Bronx native was candid about her tough upbringing.

“The streets distracted me from my dream, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, oh, I could’ve been in a vocal class after school, but I’d rather just go hang out with my friends and smoke weed and be around gangs and be with this guy. That type of shit distracted me.”

She would go on to join the Bloods at just 16 years old. And shortly after graduating high school, her parents kicked her out of the house, forcing her to move in with her boyfriend putting the then 19-year-old in a dangerous situation. 

“He didn’t have a job, and I didn’t have a job. Me and his mom used to smoke weed, and it’s like, you’re hungry but you’re high and you cannot even, like, fucking eat food because you don’t have money for it.” 

Outside of the home, her life wasn’t getting any better either. She dropped out of college, and soon after, she was fired from her cashier job at the Amish Market. But her manager gave her some career advice that would change her life and potentially, save it: start stripping.

Cardi got a job at the New York Dolls strip club. The newfound career gave her the strength and financial stability to leave her abusive boyfriend. 

“At that time I just felt like my world was coming to an end. I was that teenager who was like, I don’t need nobody. But my boyfriend kept cheating on me. He and I used to get into arguments, hitting each other a lot. Girls like to say, ‘I will beat a n***a’s ass.’ I used to have that mentality. I used to hit my first boyfriend, until he started hitting me back and it just got out of control. But I started stripping, and I made enough money to move out.”

While working as a stripper, Cardi used social media platforms like Vine and Instagram to post funny videos and quickly gained millions of followers. That social media presence would eventually get her cast on the VH1 hit reality series Love and Hip Hop. Two years later, her debut single “Bodak Yellow” took the world by storm.

cardi b hustlers
Cardi B behind the scenes of her movie Hustlers / Twitter

Cardi B is a bonafide icon. And while her rise to fame was unorthodox, make no mistake: there’s nothing wrong with how she got to the top, no matter how many times people shame her for her past.

It’s no secret that stripping isn’t exactly viewed as a noble profession. Though there’s nothing illegal about it, women are constantly judged and ridiculed for working in the sex industry. Many people also assume that in order to do sex work, one must have low self-esteem. But that’s not the case. There are thousands of women out there who, like Cardi have used the career to gain independence and empowerment.

Cardi is well aware of how people view her former profession and even called out all the women who judge her.

“Women always want to talk about feminism and supporting everybody except if it doesn’t fit your category of what to support.”

Honestly, where is the lie? 

She continued,

“Certain women that claim they are feminists only think that a certain type of woman should represent that. Like oh, you have to have a college degree, and you have to fucking be, practically, like, a senator or Mother Teresa or a Christian holy woman. No, you do not. Feminism means being equal to a man. And I am.”

Cardi is hard at work on her second album, which is scheduled to be released in early 2020. And with a potential children’s clothing line on the way, there’s no stopping this “regula, degula, schmegula girl from the Bronx.”


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Feature Photo: JStone / Shutterstock

Alysia Stevenson
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she's not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.