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Dispelling the myth of the nanny as homewrecker: Shakira rescues the one Gerardo Piqué fired

Ignored by labor laws and reviled in popular culture, the image of nannies who tear families apart has finally begun to fade. With her song ‘El jefe,’ the Colombian singer spotlights Lili Melgar, her children’s caregiver, and denounces the working conditions of the most vulnerable

Shakira in the music video for ‘El jefe.’
Shakira in the music video for ‘El jefe.’
Beatriz García

Shakira continues to assert her essential mantra that “women don’t cry, women invoice.” She recently released El jefe, her new song with the American group Fuerza Regida. In this song —which could be categorized as a protest song— the Colombian singer advocates for the labor rights of the most vulnerable workers. Her lyrics address the plight of these workers, many of whom are Latin American immigrants who have had to endure abusive working conditions at the hands of ruthless and greedy employers. Awaiting her trial in Spain for alleged tax fraud of €14.5 million ($15,440,180), in another unexpected turn of events, the artist sings: “I have a shitty boss who doesn’t pay me well. I arrive walking and he arrives in a Mercedes Benz. He’s got me like a recruit. The son of a bitch, yeah.”

In her proletarian anthem, Shakira dedicates a special place to Lili Melgar, the nanny of her children, Sasha and Milan. Melgar was also the person who allegedly informed the singer that someone in her house was eating the jam that no one liked. “Lili Melgar, this song is for you, because they didn’t give you severance pay,” the singer says in the video as she looks at the camera and links to a close-up of Melgar. The singer is referring to Piqué's sudden dismissal of the caregiver when he learned that she was his ex-partner’s ally and confidant. That’s a flash of sisterhood from the ordeal of Shakira and Piqué's separation, in which some misogynistic prejudices that we thought had already been transcended reappeared, like blaming the footballer’s new partner, Clara Chía, for the situation and publicly humiliating her by calling her Twingo.

Through Melgar’s cameo in El Jefe, Shakira pays tribute to the relationship between the two women and highlights the work of caregivers, which allow millions of people to continue their professional careers while someone else raises and cares for the most important thing in their lives: their children. Although Piqué allegedly fired the Bolivian nanny, months later Shakira hired her to take care of the children again, this time in Miami, her new place of residence. On X (formerly Twitter), Melgar’s own daughter confirmed that her mother is still the Colombian singer’s right-hand woman. “Despite everything, she continues to work with SHAKIRA. I LOVE YOU MOM,” Dariana Melgar wrote on X. Other users have shared recent photos in which Shakira’s sons Sasha and Milan are outside Spain, accompanied by their mother and Lily Melgar. Shakira has reportedly granted Melgar the copyright for her participation in the video, and there has been speculation that the singer may have paid her a large amount of money for inspiring the song.

The decline of the homewrecking nanny

Nannies have always played a special role in the lives of celebrities. These women live in the bosom of the families and are deeply involved in their private matters. They are the same women today’s big influencers tend to render invisible, as if children were raised by magic. In reality, nannies are critical figures in the celebrities’ lives. It is rare for nannies to receive positive press, although it does happen. For example, Enrique Iglesias said that he thought of his nanny like a mother and trusted her more than his own parents; she was the one who financed the recording of his first album. But for the most part, nannies have been portrayed as responsible for breaking up marriages and seeking fame and fortune through questionable methods.

While these workers were sustaining the capitalist system, the press was running stories like actor Ethan Hawke’s: while still married to Uma Thurman, he fell in love with Ryan Shawhughes, the nanny of his two children; he married her in 2008. Sienna Miller found out that Jude Law was having an affair with the nanny from one of his children. “I was in so much shock over it all. And I’d really just begun. I was only 23. But if you get through that, you feel like you can get through anything... It was really hard. I look back on it and wonder how I did get through it—but I did,” Miller explained years later of her separation from Law because of that infidelity. Now living on a farm with her husband and children, Rebecca Loos made headlines in the English tabloids and Spanish press for her alleged relationship with David Beckham. The family had hired Loos as a personal assistant to help them navigate their new life in Madrid. Princess Diana was blackmailed over then-Prince Charles’s infidelities with their children’s nanny. Eventually, the BBC was ordered to pay compensation in the amount of €2.35 billion ($2,501,575) for “totally unfounded” assertions that had “serious personal consequences” for Alexandria Pettifer, Princes William and Harry’s nanny. Whether true or false, all these cases of nannies allegedly tearing famous families apart created a great deal of distrust toward them in popular culture.

But it is not only popular culture that has denigrated this profession. For example, domestic workers in Spain did not have the same labor rights as other employees until 2022, when legislation granted them the right to unemployment benefits and protections against dismissal. Spain’s second vice president and minister of labor at the time, Yolanda Díaz, stated that the feminist decree made Spain “a better country [by] focusing on those who have been the most forgotten, the most vulnerable working women.” She added that domestic workers have unique characteristics: over a third of these women are over 55 years old, 44% are foreigners, and over half of them work on a part-time basis. The 2022 law stops treating them as if they were invisible; Shakira’s music portrays them as allies who do essential work, not threats. The popular image of the homewrecking nanny has finally begun to crumble.

Lili Melgar
Lili Melgar, the nanny of Shakira and Piqué's children, in ‘El Jefe’ video.

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