Tracee Ellis Ross has been my girl since she portrayed the perpetually neurotic and lonely Joan on the sitcom Girlfriends. Since that show has ended, Tracee has done well for herself with successful ventures like movie roles, her own website and Youtube channel and hosting the critically acclaimed awards show Black Girls Rock. One central theme of her images has been self love and acceptance. She has been candid about her own past struggles and overcoming them. In addition, she has been adamant about encouraging other women, namely those of color, to love the skin they’re in. For those reasons, I didn’t think anything of her posting the following picture:
The picture was captioned:
I’m not the type to post booty pics…I love my body but I try not to objectify it! But today I wanna…so I made a damn collage! The pic on the right made me nauseous the first time I saw it. I thought my face looked crazy but the pic is always popping up somewhere so I’m embracing it…crazy eyes, bra bulge and all!!! #IWokeUpLikeThis#FeelingFrisky #Freedom2014
The picture received mixed reactions including one from Nikki, blogger and fellow BLMer, who posted a blog post where she juxtaposed Tracee next to the now viral shot of Kim Kardashian and Blacc Chyna taking a selfie with their booties poked out. In the post, Nikki posited:
I believe Kim Kardashian and Tracee Ellis Ross should be mindful of their influence, but I can’t help but to hold Ross to a higher standard. As a co-host of the annual Black Girls Rock Awards show, which was started to highlight the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made contributions in their careers & who stand as inspirational and positive role models in their communities, should we applaud Tracee Ellis Ross for choosing to objectify her body? Isn’t this exactly what we strive to teach young African American girls NOT to do?
Honestly, I don’t see a thing wrong with what either Kim or Tracee did. True, we should be mindful of the images our girls absorb but there isn’t anything inherently wrong with posting a shot of your booty, legs, fro or anything else. The issue comes in when that’s all women are reduced to: body parts. We should be teaching our daughters that their bodies are beautiful and so are their brains. I’m interested in burlesque and strip tease but that doesn’t hinder my ability to snatch wigs via my scholarly pursuits. Although sexism teaches women that our beauty ends at our body parts, respectability politics teaches us assimilation is price we have to pay to be acceptable. Neither option suits me and it shouldn’t suit anyone else. Now excuse me while I practice my stripper kick.