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The rise to Barbzdom: @stonybrookbarbz tells all

A screenshot from the Stony Brook Barbz Instagram page. The social media account cultivated an online campus community of Nicki Minaj superfans consisting of over 1,200 followers. VIA INSTAGRAM @STONYBROOKBABRZ

Staller Center for the Arts, Roth Cafe and the Stony Brook Union are campus sites frequently occupied by thousands of students and the one and only Nicki Minaj; digitally, at least. Her presence is captured in the photoshopped posts of @stonybrookbarbz

With a following roughly 5% the size of the total student body — over 1,200 followers — @stonybrookbarbz has cultivated an online campus community of Nicki Minaj superfans, better known as “Barbz.”

After being inspired by another university’s Barbz Instagram page, the top-secret Barbz behind the account — Barb I, a senior psychology major, and Barb C, a senior communication major — decided to create their own. 

Who are the campus Barbz? 

The combination of Minaj’s playful persona with the Stony Brook experience — shedding tears of exhaustion over finals in the North Reading Room, desperately pinning one’s hope on a class waitlist and taking photos with Wolfie no matter the occasion — provides relatable, comedic relief amidst the all-too-real college dread. 

“Our expectations were to create a community of silly girls, gays and Barbz at Stony Brook,” Barb C said.

And that they did. When asked about @stonybrookbarbz, students expressed their admiration for the account.

“I think it’s a cute little community. It brings students together,” DJ Consul, a sophomore health science major, said in an interview.

Juliana Hart, a sophomore marine sciences major, agrees with this sentiment. “I think they’re funny. They brighten up my day,” Hart said.

When asked what set Minaj apart from other celebrities, Barb I and Barb C praised the star. “Nicki is simply the only rap queen,” Barb I said.

“She is mother and the rest are her sons,” Barb C added. 

Stony Brook Barbz take a stand

Although usually focused on Minaj’s imagined lighthearted antics around campus, on Nov. 14, 2023, Barb I and Barb C chose to use their platform to champion support for Palestine during Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza, with claims of genocide made against Israel. In contrast to their usual content, the post came as a surprise. 

The post pictured a student-led protest held at Stony Brook in support of Palestine with a photoshopped Minaj holding a Palestinian flag, captioned with the creators’ disappointment over Stony Brook University’s absence of support for Palestine. 

“Since @stonybrooku won’t say it nicki will,” the caption reads. “FREE PALESTINE!”

The post was created amidst students’ weeks-long outrage of Stony Brook’s refusal to condemn Israel and shortly after the investigation of an on-campus “bias incident” occurred on Nov. 2, 2023, in which a pro-Palestine student’s car was defaced with the words “terrorist” and “go to hell.” The investigation ended with the University Police Department claiming there had been no crime, intensifying tensions between students in support of Palestine and the campus administration. 

Despite posting outside the realm of their usual content, @stonybrookbarbz expressed the issue’s importance mattered more to them than staying silent.

“I believe that it is irresponsible to ignore the genocide in Palestine,” Barb C said. “On a larger scale, it is important to encourage our political representatives to stop supporting the genocide. On a smaller scale, it is important to have discussions and educate one another about what is occurring so we can actively combat ignorance and propaganda.” 

“I love how it advocated for Palestinian freedom,” Consul added. “I like how it isn’t restricted to University guidelines.”

The showdown: Nicki versus Megan

Any seasoned Barb knows that Minaj has never been one to stray away from controversy. Whatever the problem may be, Minaj’s devout fanbase has always swooped in to defend their queen.

However, in light of a recent feud between Minaj and rapper Megan Thee Stallion, even the ultimate fan girls behind @stonybrookbarbz could not condone Minaj’s behavior.

On Jan. 30, @stonybrookbarbz posted a heart-surrounded Stallion in the middle of the academic mall, with a visually distraught Minaj pointing at her from the corner.

“Temporary rebranding due to some recent events…… #StonyBrookHotties #goodfoot #AH,” the caption reads.

This post came shortly after Minaj released diss-track “Big Foot” in response to Stallion’s “HISS.” Minaj took the offense after a lyric from “HISS” — which refers to Megan’s Law — struck a nerve. Megan’s Law aims to protect children from sex offenders; Minaj’s husband Kenny Petty is a level two sex offender.

Three days after “HISS,” was released, Minaj dropped “Big Foot,” a blatant attack on Thee Stallion.  As of now, the @stonybrookbarbz hiatus continues.

How it all started

When asked about the start of their stan journey, Barb I and Barb C recalled always being fascinated with Minaj’s artistry.

“I’ve always loved Nicki’s creativity when it came to her fashion and her music, and I grew up listening to songs like ‘Beez In The Trap’ and ‘Va Va Voom,’” Barb C said. “I really started stanning her when ‘Queen’ came out, and have stanned ever since.”

Barb I had a similar awakening. 

“I always remember loving Nicki’s music, from the release of ‘Starships’ in 2012 to recent music she’s released,” she said.  “I started listening to her more when I was in high school around 2018-2019 since my best friend is the biggest Nicki fan I know. ‘Queen’ is my favorite album.”

While Minaj’s virtuosic abilities first drew them to her, Barb I and Barb C credited the star for being more than a musical powerhouse. Minaj’s uplifting mantra resonated in their daily lives.

“Whenever we have our unmotivating moments, we always remember to reflect on the message she has for us: ‘Barbz stay in school,’” Barb I continued. For them, the motto is a “reason we’re still studying in school.”

To @stonybrookbarbz, the community on campus has made their time at Stony Brook all the more enjoyable. Their highlights segment, “Barb of the Day,” showcases their appreciation for the campus Barbz community.

“It’s been a fun way to connect with students across campus who also love Nicki. It feels like we have a little community of people with similar humor and interests to us,” Barb C said. 

The message @stonybrookbarbz wants people to take away from their account is one of amazing tenacity.

As Nicki once said, ‘Work hard, it pays off. Grrrrr,’” Barb C said.

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