Shakira was actually paying homage to her Arabic roots with her Super Bowl “tongue meme”
On Sunday night, February 2nd, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez absolutely slayed during the Super Bowl LIV Pepsi Halftime show. There were so many good moments that made the rounds on Twitter—J.Lo’s daughter Emme joining in on the performance and surprise cameos from J Balvin and Bad Bunny, to name just a few. However, one specific moment was meme-ified when it probably shouldn’t have been. Shakira paid homage to her Arabic roots with a “Zaghrouta” celebration (a shouting and tongue-flicking motion), and it instantly became Twitter’s favorite joke of the week. And some are now arguing that we should wrap this meme up in order to save face and not be offensive.
Shakira, for those of you who aren’t aware, is part Lebanese, and to show appreciation for her Arabic roots, she worked the Zaghrouta into her halftime set during “Hips Don’t Lie.” The Zaghrouta is commonly done at weddings, parties, and other Arabic celebrations, according to ArabAmerica.com. It’s basically a culturally-significant way of saying “Woo! I’m having fun and expressing joy!”
The celebratory noise is also connected to the “Son de Negros” dance that takes place at the Carnaval de Barranquilla in Barranquilla, Colombia, where Shakira is originally from.
Not everyone immediately made this connection, though, which resulted in tweets like these:
Therefore, those who know a thing or two about Shakira’s heritage/the Zaghrouta had to fill in the blanks.
"I hate to disappoint but Shakira’s tongue expression is called zaghrouta, a way to express joy in Arab culture," one Twitter user explained. "It also [alludes] to the dance “Son de Negros at the “Carnaval de Barranquilla where she is from in Colombia."
And when Shakira busted out her bellydancing moves during the halftime show, that was also a tribute to her Arabic roots. The beat switched up during “Ojos Así,” which she performed in both Spanish and Arabic, and changed to a traditional Arabic bellydancing rhythm.
Therefore, having put all the pieces together, the Zaghrouta wasn’t random at all.
Now that we know the significance behind the hashtag #ShakiraTongue, we should probably agree to stop meme-ifying it. Instead, let’s celebrate it and call it what it is—that’s what the Zaghrouta is used for, after all!