I was recently reading a book I found on B&N's promotional table for Black History Month. The title, Naked:Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts, says it all. The content is heart wrenching sometimes, funny at others.
The book is actually a series of essays by prominent African American women from all walks of life: writers, entertainers, activists, business women. Most are heterosexual, a few are lesbian. Some grew up stateside, while others have first generation African or Caribbean heritage. Many grew up poor, but several grew up solidly middle class.
But there is a thread that runs through each story; the need to explore how black women have seen themselves through the eyes of others, and ultimately how that impacted their lives.
I found parts of this book easily applying to all women and the insecurities we nurse from our early teens when we first start to compare our bodies to those around us. But there are issues covered in the book that are distinctly racial.
After reading ten or more essays, I came across one that stood out to me more than the others. Kelis, a relatively well known pop/hip hop singer (Remember the very sexual song, "Milkshake?"), spoke on how she views her body and the benefits of sensuality. She's pictured above.
Without seeking to lead you into my point of view, I'm going to simply post a large section of her essay and let you comment. And please do comment. I'd like to get a discussion going here on how you view this young woman's opinion on female sexuality.
This is not a new phenomena, from Josephine Baker to Billy Holiday, Marilyn Monroe to Lena Horne. Women throughout history have played on and exposed their sensuality and beauty, using their talents as their second best feature.
The reality is that is what I have, what I look like and if it’s going to get me a little closer to where I need to be, fine. Men don’t have to be sexy and beautiful. They have different avenues to take to success.
I am really smart and really talented. But when I started out in the music industry, I learned right away that it’s not enough to look cute and stylish. I could have done it, but it would have been much harder.
Sex sells. It’s sad but true. It’s not just hip hop. And it’s bigger than black music. America is all about appealing to the eye. And I have a better chance of getting where I want looking the way I do than trying to be a burlap-wearing-weaving incense-wherever-I-go woman. God bless those who go that route, but it’s not for me.
One day I’ll be older and not quite as cute, with tiddies not as perky and an ass not as round, but right now I’ll be damned if I’ll hide what God gave me. I hate when women say that being a female is a curse. That’s only true if you want it to be
Well ladies, what do you think? Agree with her views? Disagree? Disgusted? Let's chat.