Usher Was Embraced for Posting a Nude Selfie. Why Are Women Shamed for Doing the Same Thing?

For all intents and purposes, last night was pretty standard on my Facebook newsfeed: wedding pics, baby pics, Trump hate pieces, etc. That is, until I started stumbling upon article after article alerting me to the fact that Usher had just posted a nude selfie on his Snapchat.

Almost immediately, my Facebook became inundated with news outlets sharing the pic. “Usher Just Posted a Nude to His Snapchat Story and It’s Godly,” reads one headline, while another states, “Usher Just Snapchatted a D*ck Pic…RING THE ALARMS.” Though the headlines varied, the message was essentially the same: Usher snapped the hottest, sexiest, steamiest pic and DROP EVERYTHING BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SEE IT IMMEDIATELY, IF NOT SOONER.

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I’m not going to act holier-than-thou and pretend like I didn’t click, because I totally did, partially to appease my seventh-grade self. But as I looked at the pic (ICYMI, it was Usher sitting nude in a steam room with an emoji strategically covering his manhood. Well, part of his manhood. A little bit escaped. Click here to see the full image) a thought popped into my head: Why is Usher being praised for baring all on social media when women are shamed for doing the exact same thing? 

When women like Rihanna, Amber Rose or Nicki Minaj post a photo where they deign to show a portion of their breast or butt, they are immediately criticized and spawn 1,001 think pieces as to why they are seeking bodily validation. Every time Amber posts a pic flaunting her body, trolls and scholars alike begin bombarding her with the same critique: You should be ashamed of yourself; you have a son (she once responded in the most epic way possible by saying “When he’s old enough to really see the pictures…he’s going to be like, ‘Yo, my mom was poppin’ bro!”).

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But hold up—Usher has a son, too. In fact, Usher has two kids. So why aren’t those same attacks directed at him? 


I’m sure this wasn’t Usher’s original intent when he posted the photo, but he inadvertently exposed one of the most appalling double standards in our society. While women’s actions are deemed “unladylike” and are picked over with a fine-tooth comb, men are given a pat on the back and taken out for a beer. A woman is expected to be a flawless role model for her children—thus confining her to a maternal role and nothing else—while men and fathers are laughed at and their behavior is explained by the age-old adage: “Boys will be boys!”

But when will the same be true of women? When will women be treated the same as men when their actions are virtually identical? I wait for the day when “being a woman” means someone who unabashedly embraces her sexuality—if that’s her choice—and who is, in turn, embraced by society, no ifs, ands or “butts.” 

Taylor Lewis is an assistant social media editor at ESSENCE. Follow her random quippings on Twitter and Instagram, @taylorcespedes.

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