Amber Rose: Who is the model and feminist campaigner?

Rose is outspoken on social media and has landed herself in more than a few Twitter spats

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The Independent Online

Amber Rose is usually in the headlines for one of two reasons: being slut-shamed by her ex-partners or standing up to the slut-shaming by her ex-partners.

Her most recent inclusion in the news comes following a Twitter spat between two of her most high-profile partners: rappers Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa.

After West used Rose to dig at the latter, she intervened by taking aim at West with graphic allegations about their sex life in a tweet that saw Rose accused of homophobia.

With her trademark peroxide-shaved hair and boxy sunglasses, the model and campaigner's distinct look makes her immediately recognisable. 

Background

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Amber Levonchuck was born in 1983 and says she grew up “very poor”.

Rose told Cosmopolitan she first tried stripping at the “very, very young” age of 15. Aged 18, she returned to stripping and continued for another eight years. 

“I had so much fun… that was the best time of my life,” she said of her experience, “All the girls were really cool. The guys weren’t allowed to touch you or anything. I was never sexually assaulted or [anything].”

This career path then led to modelling where she appeared in a number of music videos for artists such as Ludacris, Nicki Minaj and Fabolous.

Relationships

She first entered the public eye as West's girlfriend, who she dated for two years. Appearing on the Wendy Williams Show in 2011, she said of her former flame: “He didn’t treat me the way he was supposed to.” Rose was infamously on West’s arm the night he stormed the stage to crash Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs demanding Beyoncé should have won instead.

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Kanye West with Amber Rose in 2009

Following her split from West, Rose began dating Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa in 2011. The pair had son Sebastian together and married in 2013. However, she reportedly filed for divorce in 2014, amid rumours of Khalifa’s infidelity.

Feminism

After two high-profile relationships, Rose soon found herself on the receiving end of slut-shaming. In an interview with Paper magazine in 2015, she revealed how she was subject to misogynistic trolling over her relationships.

"People are like, 'Wiz is out f***ing mad bad bitches and you're at home crying over him because he's the best thing that f*cking ever happened to you and now you're just a fat, bald-headed single mother and no one will ever love you.' So yeah, I guess months of seeing sh*t like that, I was just like, 'I can't live like this. There's something wrong.'"

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Rose and Khalifa in January 2014

Unfortunately, the sexist remarks towards Rose didn’t start or finish with online trolls. In 2014, West told The Breakfast Club radio show he had to take “like 30 showers” after dating Rose before Kim Kardashian.

After a tirade on Twitter against Kardashian, West told Entertainment Tonight: “We were happy when we were together and now I’m getting slut-shamed because we’re not together anymore and it’s unfair and I feel like women deal with that constantly on a daily basis and I’m sick of it.”

Her past as a stripper was also brought up by Khloe Kardashian – sister of Kim and Kylie, to name a few, after Rose publicly disapproved of Kylie, who was 17 at the time, and her apparent relationship with the rapper Tyga, saying Kylie should “be in bed by 7”.

Khloe defended her younger sister by bringing up Rose’s past as a stripper saying, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and criticised her for telling Kylie to be in bed by 7 “when she wasn’t”.

Khloe later told Complex magazine she wasn’t slut-shaming Rose over her previous job.

“What I thought was crazy was she was telling my sister to act a certain way or have a curfew, but [she wasn’t] doing the same. So just don’t comment. How was I slut-shaming by saying don’t throw stones at glass houses? There was no slut-shaming. I am not one to slut-shame, I have done slutty behaviour myself.”

However, it was the scale of verbal abuse Rose was subjected to by trolls that made her become a self-described “feminist monster”. “I was always about girl power," she told Cosmopolitan, but I didn’t quite get it because I did always feel like I had to be completely submissive to a man. I was always very unhappy doing that… I guess social media did help create the feminist monster that I’ve become.”

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Rose and Blac Chyna at the 2015 VMAs

Rose has since launched the Amber Rose Foundation, which aims to combat sexual violence, victim-blaming, derogatory labels and gender inequality.

Rose continues to challenge the misogyny she has faced head-on by turning up to the VMAs in a catsuit emblazoned with a number of misogynistic labels, starring in a video called the “walk of no shame”  and organising a “Slut Walk” in more than 70 cities.

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