By Audrey Muhammad
Should we, as Black women, keep our clothes on? Historically, “undressing” ourselves hasn’t benefited us much. When Lisa Bonet, of the Cosby Show, did a nude scene in a movie, her career took a downfall. When Janet Jackson had the “wardrobe malfunction,” her career stalled. Even Halle Berry, who had nude scenes and won an Oscar for her role in Monster’s Ball, still isn’t considered on the level of an Angela Bassett. One sister who recovered from her “nude scandal” was Vanessa Williams, the former Miss America who was de-crowned because of her nude pictures that showed up in a men’s magazine. I think we need to teach our daughters to be proud of their bodies by taking care of it and exercising and eating right. (I talk about this in the upcoming issue of Virtue Magazineat www.virtuemag.com). We would do our daughters an even better service by teaching them how to develop their God-given qualities and demonstrate to them that their true power is using their God-given talents and being of service to humanity, not displaying our bodies for the world to see.
Recently, Jada Pickett-Smith posed nude on the cover Essence Magazine and stated that she did this to “show her daughter how to be proud of her body.” Now I wish Jada would have shared her workout secrets; that’s what she should have discussed(smile) and how she helps to educate her children. We are so much more than our bodies. Erykah Badu disrobes, until completely nude, in her music video, “Window Seat.” Now, Erykah, I believe will “recover” from this particular incident because her intent didn’t appear to be sexually stimulating, but mentally provoking. However, knowing the mind of men today, very few men were trying to “analyze” her message. I was asked recently in an interview for the e-zine H2H, the following questions, “What are your thoughts about these statements that almost imply “feminine liberation”? Do you believe the way these two women, in particular, went about this could have been done differently without taking their clothes off? Please explain. Do you believe that images such as the above give the girls and even women who look up to these particular celebrities mixed signals in what it means to be a proud Black woman?”
Well, I answered that I had no regrets for featuring Erykah Badu on the cover of Virtue Magazine, not once, but two times. The first was back in 2005. She was on the cover of Virtue with Minister Farrakhan and Sister Minister Donna Farrakhan in honor of her being a co-convener for the Millions More Movement.(E-zine downloads of Virtue magazine are available at www.virtuetodaymag.com) We had her on the cover in honor of her generosity, which is a virtuous quality. She took the time to attend rallies with Minister Farrakhan to help make the march a success. The second time we had her on the cover was in honor of our 5th year Anniversary and to thank her for being our first “Celebrity” cover model. She sent me a quote via her publicist and said, “When you uplift women, you uplift the world. Sista Muhammad is doing just that and my hat goes off to her.” – Erykah Badu.
Now both of these sisters had their reasons for undressing. I think we can show pride in our body without undressing. I don’t think, we as black women, have a problem undressing. Look at BET. Again, we are being given a “limited” view of what is the true “essence” of our beauty. Minister Farrakhan said in Study Guide #19 “All of you that believe are Beautiful to God. He(God) has the Power to take your belief and turn it into absolutely indescribable beauty.” What is a virtue? It is a good or admirable quality. What are the qualities of a virtuous woman listed in Proverbs 31? It says a virtuous woman has the quality of being strong(“strength and honor are her clothing), God-fearing, hardworking, generous(“she reacheth forth her hands to the needy) and kind.
Virtue Magazine is here to help EMPOWER women and show them that we ALL have virtue or one of these good qualities in us. It is not limited to just being chaste. Can a prostitute get rewarded for being generous and feeding the hungry? Absolutely. Nevertheless, we as original women can have the potential to be the epitome of beauty, class and intelligence. Minister Farrakhan asked in a meeting once if women were willing to “protect their virtue.”
Our virtue, or our “spirit or essence of good” needs to be protected. Granted, no one is “holier than thou” and we have all fallen short in the eyes of God. Well, someone may say, not me! I am still a Virgin! Well, have you been self-righteous? Have you looked down upon someone else? Even self-righteousness is a sin. I think we need to teach our daughters to listen to truth and be honest and forgiving to ourselves.
I remember one day my daughter told me one of her classmates said she was ugly. I said, “Is it true? Are you ugly?” She said, “No.” I said, ”It is a lie, right?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Do we listen to lies?” She said, “No, we don’t listen to lies. I am pretty.” Sometimes we have to walk our daughters through the logic. Women need to understand that we have to help set the moral tone and standard for our family. As difficult as it may be, and it is, we cannot let our loneliness or disappointment to cause us to seek approval from a man by offering ourselves. We see examples of this in our own lives and the lives of celebrities like Fantasia also. Most men will take advantage of us and not give us another thought. A committed man will stick with you. But many of men our too spiritually immature to see our value(or their own), so it is up to us to show and demonstrate our value by securing ourselves and leave men alone who are not willing to make a commitment to us.