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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ciara Poses Nude for Vibe...At what cost?

Ciara poses in the buff for the latest issue of Vibe Magazine. My thoughts: a gimmick to promote her latest project. Let's call a spade a spade. I hate to dismiss a public figure for posing in the nude, but I do question it.

One of the primary challenges that young Black women face is body consciousness, that is the manner in which we, as Black American women, conceptualize our bodies while growing up in a society that has historically sexualized us. When media images implicitly places value on the Black woman's sexuality, sensuality... her "vixenhood"... how do we develop a sense of respect for the divine gift that God gave us? When a notable star, an icon for young Black women, takes it all off for the sake promotion, it adds to this conflict.

Do some research on HIV/AIDS statistics. Black women between the ages of 15-24, the age group most influenced by media outlets like Vibe and the likes of Ciara, are contracting the disease at the fastest rate in this country, and primarily as a result of unprotected heterosexual intercourse. This means that there is a grave number of Black young women who don't feel strongly enough about their bodies to negotiate condom use and to not give themselves liberally to men who probably do not deserve them. We can not isolate the prevalence of promiscuity and unprotected sexual activity amongst young Black women from the culture. I'm not being holier than though, or puritanical, but seriously ladies... let's look at the picture. It's bleak.

Black women of all socioeconomic echelons are waging a battle for their sexual health and losing. We can no longer afford to be irresponsible about the mass messages that we dissiminate . Ciara's display treats the nude black body as a commodity. And let's face it, she is doing this to sell albums, sell magazines, and increase her star power. Her body, in this sense, is a commodity. Look at the second spread... it's not even 'artistic'. It's blatant, parted-lips, XXL, King-Style, sexual nudity intended to tittilate and suggest. When someone of her star power conducts herself in this manner, it says to her vulnerable fans that the exhibition of the body at whim is normal. It is okay. It is cool. It implies the sexuality is a viable path to notoriety and success. And as young women yearn to be popular and feel good about themselves, and many will model themselves after their cultural icons in doing so, it is no wonder that you can go to a Myspace or a Facebook page and see a half dressed young woman screaming for attention. It is no wonder that for many young ladies of color, their greatest aspiration is to dance half naked in a rap video for a paltry sum. And it is now wonder that there are countless Black women who would give of themselves and not even think twice about protection.
Please, let us as Black women and especially Black women in the public eye be sensitive to the plight of our young females for self-respect and sexual health. Let's be responsible. We owe at least that much to ourselves.



Slim Jackson said...

There's always a flip side for stuff like this. Some would argue that she's all about displaying the beauty of her body and confidence as a black woman. Since I'm a male, I guess it's expected that I would say that. My question to you and your readers it ever OK for a Black Woman to pose nude or provocatively? Even Beyonce caught heat because they apparently lightened her skin tone in a picture. I'm just curious.

"Ike" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
"Ike" said...

I thank you for your comment and I agree with the flip side. The Black female body is GORGEOUS and many models including naomi and tyra have proudly put it on display. The difference is outlet and purpose. I included the center fold for a reason. This, in my opinion, and feel free to disagree, is almost pornographic. Both photos are suggestive. Therefore we have nudity, in a popular black publication, young black female icon, and heavy sexual undertones. The message here is that she's using her sexuality as a commodity and this is just not the best message for her to send to her fans. In fact, in my original post I only criticized this for it's vulgarity, and lack of artistic presentation. Then I thought twice, and rewrote the piece. I don't think she's a bad person for doing this at all, I just think that ocassionally black female stars must be sensitive to the issues within their younger fan base. In general, I was trying to generate some discussion about the relationship between body image and the alarming rate at which black women are contracting std's and sti's. I would love to hear more opinions about this matter and whether or not my readers feel that black celebrities should have to monitor their actions at all.

Thanks Slim