Chloe Bailey is grown and sexy. Deal with it.

via “Treat Me” music video

Everything Chloe Bailey has done has caused a stir — releasing her single “Treat Me” is no different. It’s a pop bop, for sure. And the visuals, my God, the visuals. Baby girl is grown grown, ok? And for some reason people are mad about it.

Some claim Chloe’s “too good” for the type of music she’s singing. They want her back serving sultry tunes more true to the R&B roots that ushered her and her sister Halle into stardom. Others want her to form her own identity and abandon the influence of her mentor. But the loudest two cents, which I’m here to discuss, is about Chloe “cheapening” or hypersexualizing herself instead of relying on her talents to gain respect as an artist.

via “Treat Me” music video

From what I see, the real problem people have with Chloe Bailey has zero to do with her as an individual. Black girls around the world have experienced a similar resistance when coming of age. They’re allowed to grow in responsibility and knowledge, but being “grown” and the autonomy that comes with it, is off limits.

A common rationale for stifling young women’s sexuality is that it’s for their own protection. And while the heart of this safeguard is true, the way women choose to dress and carry themselves is not a barometer for respect (nor is it an invitation for harm from men, but that’s another conversation).

After 18, Black women aren’t “acting grown”, they legally are. This entitles them to make certain decisions about how they want to move through the world, and owning one’s sexuality is part of that. In general, black women realize early on what their desirable attributes are — older women and men comment on them all the time — but they’re not allowed to act like they know or use these features to their advantage despite businesses profiting off them all the time.

At least part of this denied existence can be attributed to black Americans’ religious-centered upbringing making the criticisms understandable, not right, from the lens of an older generation. What’s shocking to me about the current disapproval is that it’s coming heavily from Millennial women who have strayed from official religious observance, but seemingly not its ideals.

via “Treat Me” music video

To be fair, I identify as a Christian, so I’m not bashing. I do, however, acknowledge that some of the ways people are permitted to shame women is not aligned with how Christ would move. Shaming people in general isn’t an effective way to create community, but especially in the context of “don’t behave like this so that your value isn’t diminished.”

How black women decide to show up in the world is up to them, and it can change whenever they want. So what if Chloe shows some skin? Her body is goals. And if she wants to shake some ass in the process, it’s hers to shake. Sex sells, but it doesn’t take away from the immense talent and discipline Chloe very evidently exudes. Instead of trying to shame her, Black women especially should rally to support her. Or don’t, whatever. Just let Chloe be grown and sexy in peace.

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Janell Marie

Janell Marie

Above all else, I’m a lover. Everything I write stems from that.