Sunday, July 13, 2014

Beautiful, Brown and Baring it All: Rihanna and Venus Williams

Remember when pop star Rihanna caught some flack for the sheer gown she wore to the CFDA Awards? The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) honored her with the 2014 Style Icon Award. Some people thought she looked tacky for baring it all under the glittery fabric. I know I’m late to commenting on her attire but I thought she was stunning. Yes it was sexy. Yes it was revealing. But it was a sophisticated sexy. People called her trashy, but a trashy woman could not have pulled this off. 





What I loved most about what Rihanna wore, was her attitude. Some people who were offended questioned why do female celebrities feel the need to show so much skin. And I can understand that argument. But Rihanna wore that gown and owned it. There was no apology in her eyes. You can see the pride in her smile and she knew she rocked the hell out of that gown. 


She also wore it in tribute to Josephine Baker, whose birthday was around that time. Baker opened the door for black women to have that type of sensual expression under their own definition. Also, Rihanna wasn’t the first. Late actress Pearl Bailey did it back in the day.  Cher has gone sheer too. If I was a young, successful pop star with a body like Rihanna’s, I would wear it to. 


Actress Pearl Bailey beautiful and bare. 
As I tweeted, i think people have more of a problem with Rihanna with her being unapologetic about her sensuality than what she wore. The same thing applies to Beyonce. I don’t agree with everything on her latest album, but I can see that she’s owning her sexuality and body more. Some people don't want to see Beyonce doing that. We forget that people are sexual beings too.  

Venus Williams carries her name well. She’s definitely a tennis goddess. But like the Roman goddess of love, beauty and sex who shares her name—Venus Williams embodied all of that in her photos from this year’s ESPN Body Issue. Venus looks AMAZING! She made me proud of my chocolate skin and bootyliciousness. She’s 34 and 6’1. I love it! There's a great interview with her on ESPN.com about her sport, the shoot and living with Sjogren's syndrome. I find it interesting that Venus hasn’t received the same amount of criticism as Rihanna. I don’t know if feel people differently because she’s an athlete or her sister Serena Williams posed a few years ago. 


Venus Williams is a goddess for this ESPN Body Issue.
Pick up the magazine in stores now. 

 I’ve studied black erotica and black sexuality for some time. And sometimes when artists pose like this, the criticism that arises is that the women are being exploited or fetishized. Jada Pinkett-Smith received similar critique when she posted a gorgeous nude photo of herself on Facebook. But that’s not always the case. In all of these instances I listed, these women are celebrating their bodies and sensuality. And think that’s okay to celebrate our bodies. That goes for women of all races.  Big, small, tall, short, old, young, limited ability or athletic—it’s okay to honor our bodies.  It’s okay to honor one of the Creator’s best artwork—the human body. 

By the way, Rihanna still isn’t listening to ya'll.

Check out my thesis on black erotic literature and sexuality







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