Once the cover revealing of VIBE’s August/September 2011 Juice Issue emerged featuring Kelly Rowland baring it all, I knew it would not be long before the critiques started to flow in. In the issue, the songstress leaves little to the imagination, truly highlighting why she is easy on the eyes. With her third studio album Here I Am, released on July 26, receiving startling reviews, everyone hopes Kelly Rowland does not end up like her former girl group members and hastily fade into the background after the album drops. So, were Kelly’s nude photos a cry for more attention?
Of course not.
Rowland is not the first artist to ever pose nude in her career. And this is definitely not the first time we have seen her in this element. Provocative photos have been released with Rowland before. Even her artwork for her new album is a little racy. Not to mention she has appeared nude alongside her former girl group members, Destiny’s Child. Rowland seems to be at a point of her life where she is taking more risks. Is there something wrong with Kelly exploring her sexuality? For some, it works out fine, and for others, it’s just that – a quick exploration. It is evident that she has found a boost of confidence over the years causing her to be comfortable within her skin.
So what’s the real deal? There is constant disapproval thrown at any Black women entertainer having any sort of sexual images in her work, whether found in a movie, music video or photo shoot. Now it seems we are at a point where we associate this move with desperation. The notion of nudity and tastefulness will always conflict; however, nudity can be done in a tactful way. Hyper-sexualization of women in the entertainment industry is almost always portrayed as nude photos and sex tapes, yet Miss Kelly’s photos are far from a sex tape but are still being bashed.
At the end of the day, let’s face it–we love sexy. Sexuality is a major part of human nature embedded in our genes. Provocative sexual imagery has been around since forever. Like the old adage, sex sells. Let alone the admiration and often-glorified images of the exquisite Black woman body.
Still, Kelly Rowland belongs to the cloth of Black women entertainers who have a tough social responsibility to properly balance the tenacity to stay afloat in the male dominated industry and the discernment in which the way they progress. If they are not careful, they can find themselves only as a sex symbol that won’t last longer than a three-minute sex scene.
Will we ever get to a point where nude photos can be viewed as tasteful or are we too focused on relating the idea to desperation for attention?
Drew-Shane Daniels is a Philadelphia based writer who offers his two cents on pop culture, lifestyle, sexuality and entertainment. His work has been featured on Global Grind, Soul Train and Clutch Magazine. You can also follow him on Twitter @drewshane.