Actress Meagan Good and her husband, CEO of Franklin Entertainment, DeVon Franklin, are on a mission to spread the love and their message about the power of celibacy and marriage, even if everyone doesn’t agree.
On Valentine’s Day the couple spoke on a panel about abstinence and love at the One Church in Los Angeles and an attendee openly criticized Good for her fashion choices. “This is not offensive, but I was at the grocery store and I looked at a newsstand and saw you, and you had your breasts showing,” said the unidentified woman. “So, I wasn’t going to come here. But the Lord brought me here to see you. You are a beautiful young woman and your testimony is awesome. The Lord let me come and push past the judgment…this is real. Because you have to make sure what you say and what you do match up, you understand? So, we gon’ cover up right?” In the video, it was clear that Good was visibly hurt by the woman’s comments and tried not to cry as Franklin pulled her closer and immediately interrupted the woman to defend his wife’s honor and wardrobe choices: “Wait a minute. No! That is not what we’re here for…She’s not gonna cover up,” he said. “She is gonna wear what she wants to wear in the name of Jesus, amen.” Adding later that Good “has [always] been as Christian as she is right now.”
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When the video clip of the tense encounter surfaced online, it went viral, but the Internet was divided on the issue. While Good’s fan base gave their support, some Christians spoke out insisting that her style of dress is “not appropriate for a woman of God.” The discussion continued for weeks as both sides went back and forth in comment sections and on social feeds.
The thing is, Good is a human being, and while she hasn’t let others’ opinions about her shape the way she lives, the judgments and negative comments some hurl her way online have been hurtful to her, and she’s now ready to share her own thoughts on the matter esclusively with ESSENCE. We sat down with Good during this year’s ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood event for an intimate discussion about Christianity, modesty and double standards.
“I did not grow up with what some may consider to be a more traditional perspective and mindset,” says Good who recalls growing up in the entertainment business and doing off-Broadway shows with drag queens at age 10. “I believe God allowed me and many others to have a liberal upbringing for His purpose. I opt to continue growing in my relationship with God, allowing Him to make my path clear. Versus confirming and fitting into anyone’s box of whom they think I should be.”
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Good, whose new book The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love, which she co-authored with Franklin, is on the New York Times bestsellers list for a fifth week, believes a double standard still exists when it comes to how men and women are judged for the way they dress and what that says about them. Modesty, says Good, is always up for interpretation. “What is considered modest or appropriate differs depending on any given culture and context,” says Good. “It also changes from woman-to-woman. You have to consider each woman’s body type, her personality, personal perspectives and what season of life she’s in, meaning what I considered appropriate at 20 is different than what I consider appropriate at 30.”
Good says she doesn’t understand why the women are always to blame, and often by other women. “[In terms of modesty] I think that it’s kind of unfair that there’s a picking and choosing on how some people make it the woman’s fault or responsibility if a man lusts after her,” Good explains. “But then, in the same token, if I go to Ralphs and I’m shopping for dinner for my husband in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and a man is still in there lusting after me, how it’s fair that he doesn’t have to pluck out his right eye, but the expectation is that I’m supposed to do something or that I’m supposed to manage any given man in the world and what may turn him on.”
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Good feels the burden has been placed on women to rectify these double standards, but she refuses to let that dictate her choices. “I think to expect women to manage every kind of man’s different attraction is kind of crazy and unfair to women,” she adds. “And, I think modesty is also about your intention: What are you trying to accomplish? What are the intentions of your heart? And I know my intention is genuine.”
To support her argument, Good refers to Bible verse 1 Peter 3:3-5 [Do not let your adornment be merely outward- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. for in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.]
“When it talks about modesty in the Bible, it also refers to men, and a lot of it is referring to material things about what you do in terms of big earrings and pearls and things like that, not making another person feel bad because you might have more than they do, and they never address any of that stuff,” says Good. “It’s just interesting to me because it’s like people tend to pick and choose which parts to address.”
For Good, choosing to dress in a way where she feels her sexiest on any given day, is about her own desires, not a man’s. “I want to look beautiful for my husband,” she said. “I want to look beautiful because I’m 34, about to be 35, and I want to have incredible pictures to show my kids of mommy in her heyday. I want to look nice because I’m an entertainer. It’s just interesting to me that there’s a double standard and how unfair it can be.”
Good insists this is all really about individual perspective. “I am completely sensitive to not wanting to cause my brother or sister to fall,” says Good. “I work at that daily in how I carry myself and what I project, but anyone trying to manage their life around what might affect or offend any given human being in the entire world, it is an impossible feat.”
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It appears that Good sees this dialogue as more of a hindrance than help, so she’s choosing to focus on the mission.
“The crazy thing is how backwards some of us can be as Christians,” says Good. “Hubby and I are doing all we can to go out into the world with a God-given message in an area that many of us secretly struggle with, and some others have attempted to discredit a much needed cultural conversation and reduce it to a wardrobe choice… A choice that is and always will remain between me and God.”
Even though Good kept quiet during that awkward moment at One Church, she does have a message for the woman who stood up and criticized her that day: “When my husband said that I’m going to ‘wear what I want to wear in the name of Jesus,’ he meant that it is between me and Jesus. While I don’t believe she had ill intent, I can’t believe God would tell someone to publicly humiliate another person. I believe if God told her to share something with me, He also would’ve given her the wisdom to do so and I don’t think her approach reflected that. But, nevertheless I have nothing but love for her. And for anyone who may disagree with me, I ask that they pray for me in love instead of slandering or attacking me. I believe that is the true essence of who God has called us all to be—lovers. I believe He can handle the rest.”
Additional reporting by Yolanda Sangweni