The following is a story I was fortunate to read by Surya Devi Shofar on blog The Sex-Sensual Griot. As I read it, I was intrigued and thought that I should do a write up of my own but the more I read, the more I realized that Surya’s story says it all. So here it is.

Naked Expressions

of Leading

Black Women!

The naked unveiling of her body in her video, “Window Seat”, was Erica’s way of showing the world that she has climbed higher dimensions of her spiritual journey while making a fierce political statement that inter weaved the past and brought us a flash into the future. But only a few can truly understand content and relational meaning of her video and the true quest of this daring spirit! As an astrologer, I must say that she is truly expressing her Piscean spirit. And she is leading others to the summit!

We remember that uproar, the criticisms she was up against and the dialogues that streamed across the globe mixed with all kinds of opinions and ideas. Erika is not the only Black woman expressing herself beyond society’s demands and expectations while breaking glass ceilings of sensual expressions. There is also Jada Pinket Smith who graces the cover of Essence Magazine with a partially nude photo revealing parts of her upper body and legs. Jada thinks that “Women should be proud of their body. And I agree with her %100.

But women should first be proud of the diverse strength they embody. From being able to conceive and carry a growing baby while going about the regular activities of a woman’s life, to acknowledging that she carries a sacred bowl more powerful than any single thing that exists on this planet and that she carries the intuitive world right in her creative center, to knowing and mastering the use of her sexual creative powers. I believe that women have been sold short of their bodies; robbed of their powers in so many ways. We have been cleverly deceived and tricked into shutting ourselves out of our own bodies. And until we renter the kingdom of heaven (the body) – in the manner intended – we as women will never know the extent of our majesty, grace and power because we have been fooled and taught to seek it outside our selves and in others. This is the ultimate challenge of WOMAN!!

The decision to use the photo for the cover of Essence was inspired by her daughter, Willow’s first reaction to seeing the photo. In her recent interview on “The View” she talks about her impromptu decision to have her nude photo on the cover of Essence Magazine.


Jada Pinkett-Smith on The View

Thanks to the increasing heat of the Summer’s arrival and the powerful Summer Solstice I rolled out some of my artistic nude photos and posted a couple on my face book profile. The first one made ripples! I received a stream of comments that were positive and complimentary.

Then I posted the second one in which my entire back side is exposed. And I made tidal waves while inducing a bit of silence. Silence so thick that I could feel it through the virtual walls of cyberspace. And I do feel deeply! Then I received a note with the subject saying “egads. It was from a Caucasian lady (not even a friend on fb) saying..”woman, have you no shame!” My response to her was “Have you? Now for me….that depends…”

I am not ashamed of my body and don’t see why anyone should be ashamed of theirs. And most interesting is that a Caucasian woman approached me through email. Did my chocolate smooth skin and beautiful strong body intimidate her? What moved her to drop me that note? I am curious!

We can not ignore the racial irony of this nudity business that also carries an element of past programming and conditioning. Was I supposed to be in the cotton field with my long dress and boots on picking cotton and dare not expose my nakedness to the master. It seems that when a white or Latin woman poses nude it is never a big deal. However, as soon as a black woman shows more of her body in a naked artistic fashion she is scrutinized beyond limits. Yet there are many who have and go unruffled in the media and other times without any huge public knowledge for their nude exposures.


Jessica Alba


Eva Mendes


Padma Lakshmi


Britney Spears

The usual question: Why do we have so much shame for our bodies? We know the answers to that one. But the question here today in the year 2010 is: Why is there a difference in the reaction to a white woman posing nude versus a black woman?
What are we doing to honor our bodies and to be at peace within and comfortable in our own physical casings. How are our insecurities destroying our relations and what are we doing or need to do to raise the bars of our self-esteem, while we instead fed with violence, destruction, deception and tragedy on the screens? How are women like Erykah Badu and Jada Pinkett Smith inspiring other women or not?
Share your naked thoughts!

The usual question: Why do we have so much shame for our bodies? We know the answers to that one. But the question here today in the year 2010 is: Why is there a difference in the reaction to a white woman posing nude versus a black woman?

What are we doing to honor our bodies and to be at peace within and comfortable in our own physical casings. How are our insecurities destroying our relations and what are we doing or need to do to raise the bars of our self-esteem, while we instead fed with violence, destruction, deception and tragedy on the screens? How are women like Erykah Badu and Jada Pinkett Smith inspiring other women or not?

Share your naked thoughts!

-Surya Devi Shofar

Angelique Surya Shofar is the founder and director of the Spirit of Wellness which focuses on women’s sexual wellness. Affectionately known as “The African Wellness Diva” for her natural healing presence and gifts, she serves as a Wellness & Lifestyle Coach, Energy Therapist, Inspirational Speaker, Certified Yoga teacher and Reflexologist. Also known as the Sexual Griot, Surya says she is a free spirit with a sensual creative edge. My creative spirit flows in all phases of my life, while all phases of my life can be found in my creativity! And an African woman – mind, heart, soul and to the bone! To see more of her writings visit her blog: http://sexualgriot.blogspot.com/

6 Comments
  1. Evelyn S. Oliver 12 years ago

    OUTSTANDING PHOTOS!!!

  2. Author
    vincent 12 years ago

    I’ve been asked a lot about the nudity on the site. With so much cultural and artistic content here is it worth it to illicit the potential controversy of having bare black skin as part of the Garden. I’ve often answered that the Pangea is not my website. It OUR place to celebrate the beauty in natural Afrocentricity. And if there’s a time when the mass of Gardeners want to change it so that there is no nudity, then we will look in to it. But that day is not this day.

    We still have societal issue when it comes to our own skin. We still have to push pass the negative disfunction of viewing our own naked appearance as only a form of defamation and degradation. We are too beautiful a people to be that small.

    I am thankful that this discussion has started and I hope it is the seed for creating a healthy perspective to for the first human beauty to ever grace this planet. Thanks to Jada for her comments on The View. Thanks to Surya for her elequent commentary and food for thoughtful discussion. Thanks to Erykah and Jada both for creating this stir in the first place.

    And thank YOU.

  3. Sepia 12 years ago

    I remember last year when ESPN the magazine put out their “Body Issue” covers. Serena Williams was one of the athletes featured. I thought she looked absolutely exquisite. However, like Surya had mentioned in her article, there was a racial irony between her cover and another white female athlete based on the commentary for both covers. The white athlete had overwhemingly positive comments. Serena’s had more negative ones, mainly surrounding her body. It’s ridiculous that we black females cannot express our sensuality and sexuality without hearing the negativity and controversy surrounding us. Our varying shades of brown, our curves, our hair and the way we carry ourselves are beautiful, unique and strong.

    To the writer of the story…Surya, kudos to you! Also, your pictures are just divine! The lady who sent you the e-mail on FB was very intimidated. She ought to be ashamed!!!

  4. Author
    vincent 12 years ago

    After I first read Surya’s commentary I did some research to find out what the responses had been to these cover stories. I grabbed a few of the positives… Check them out:

    On Erykah…

    angieb30
    I LOVE EB! NATURAL BEUTY,BEAUTIFUL EYES AND GREAT SKIN…..JOB WELL DONE VIBE!

    kenae101
    Erykah is all that and some more to come. She comes from people that were a group of first. The first in all things happening at the time. She is naturally different, and deliberately choose to display outside the box who she is, and where she come from. From where black women come, there was no long straight hair.Hair was not an issue to cause concern. Todays black woman embrace the issue of long straight hair, and light skin. From where black women come, nudity was not an issue. Black women had to be taught that their ample,graceful,body was ugly and needed to be covered. Hidden from the eyes of those that had never seen such beauty. To day black women use nudity to cover their lack of other aspect of womanly being,a tool to cover shortcomings, a display of their lack of morals. Thank you Erykah, for giving me back some of my stolen pride in me. Keep applying what you got from the Southside, Kolleen, Thelma,and the real first, the sixties’ renaissance people. It looks good on you. Keep wearing it with pride!

    D0CZer0
    Always evolving, love Miss Badu!

    SexyMoneyMaker
    she does’nt give a damn and plays the field to the tune of her own beat…i love people who are leaders not followers.
    stand out in the crowwd by being your own individual
    …gotta love anybody who does that

    Tyelisha2
    Love it…so sexy; however, I’m not to sure about the head but she’s defiantly on point!!!

    CaliFemme23
    This chick is bad…always has been.
    Her confidence and style is impressive….
    *Applause*

    On Jada…

    Rhonda M said…
    If I looked like that I’d pose nude too. 
Although I do not believe it takes nudity to teach young women to be proud of their bodies, I’d rather her pose nude than see another young lady dressed like a hooker on an African-American mag cover. 
I’m looking forward to the issue.

    YUMMama said…
    I think that American culture has tainted nudity a bit. We always associate nudity as being sinful or dirty. But didn’t God make Adam and Eve nude in the beginning? I commend Jada for having the courage to pose nude for her daughter. 
I think that is does send a powerful message to young Black women. The fact that she is comfortable with not having big breasts and what not is wonderful. Especially when we live in a society that promotes bigger as being better.
Let us move past the whole mind set that showing our bodies is distasteful. We are all different and have different styles-whether it be our style of dress, our style of teaching, etc. I will be picking up the July issue as soon as it hits my local Wally World and I encourage all Black women to support not only this amazing sister, but this amazing magazine.

    CHELLY
    Jada = Lovely! And we Black women do need to accept our bodies and SKIN TONES!! All shades of Black are beautiful!!!

    star
    FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree with Jada 100%…we all have hang-ups no matter how we look, but hey, im the only me in existence and “I LOVE ME SOME ME”

    There is plenty more out there. The usual Hottie comments and whatnot. What I was surprised by was that it was a lot harder to find positive comments for Jada than it was for Erykah. There were a lot of personal attacks on her size, her hair, and mean things were said about wrinkles and plastic surgery. It was quite hateful, actually. And in the negative comments said about both women was shame. People being ashamed of their own skin and thrusting that shame on these two. In Jada’s case there was a lot more negative said about her than there was positive. In Erykah case it was the opposite.

    Why do you think that is? Is it generational? Are the young more proud of their skin than those who came before them? Do they have less of a cultural stigma attached to their own beauty?

  5. Alexandria 12 years ago

    Powerful! I absolutely love the commentary. In one of the responses someone said that the naked body is viewed as being sinful or dirty. That is absolutely true and the main reason that so many hide from and curse nudity. I recently took a feminist theories course and remember in one of the texts an author stated that the issue with black women and their femininity is the “myths” surrounding our sexuality. By the public we are viewed as jezebels and sapphires and it is associated with our bodies. The person and body of the black woman has been horribly portrayed and passsed down through many generations.

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