Although Ciara has been gracing the public (and Instagram) with her baby bump for months now, she recently released an official maternity shoot to run alongside a profile of her in Harper’s Bazaar. It’s a beautifully shot semi-nude pregnancy shoot that isn’t uncharacteristic of many expecting Hollywood moms. But one picture in particular sent the internet into a frenzy.
In the family shoot, a topless Ciara stands holding her her 2-year-old son Future, who is nude. An also topless Russell Wilson (presumably) kneels behind Ciara and cradles her stomach with both hands. His face, however, is out view as it’s apparently nuzzled into her lower back. I’ll admit, this particular photo — the one Ciara decided to share on Twitter with an endearing caption “Just The 4 Of Us” — is awkward. I can’t blame the jokesters for crudely pointing out that it looks like Russell could be…well…literally kissing Ciara’s butt. I’m sure someone thought it was edgy or visionary for Wilson to be hiding behind his wife, but none of us caught the wave.
All of that is a matter of personal aesthetic preference. But there are other comments I saw online that crossed a line. There were the obvious hoe-shamers who troll the internet whenever a woman dares to be even a little naked. The tired argument that women, and especially moms, need to cover up is so tired that it’s not even worth addressing. Although the idea that Ciara somehow put her son in an inappropriate or compromising situation is much more serious.
Let me make this as clear as possible. As the stepfather to Future, it’s likely that Wilson has and will see baby Future naked quite a bit. Wilson is legally one of his parents. Wilson is co-parenting with Ciara. Wilson is one of Future’s three parents. Baby Future’s nudity is a part of Wilson’s life until Future is old enough to wipe himself and go to the doctor alone. Deal with it. To suggest this is or should be an affront to rapper Future’s masculinity or pride is extremely narrow-minded.
Opinions like Lil Duval’s actually aren’t very far off from comments like the ones exemplified by this tweet. It suggests that Black women must also play a part in upholding a narrow, homophobic, and hyper-sexualized version of masculinity. When they don’t, they are accused of putting their sons at risk, damaging the Black community, or “emasculating” Black men. The idea that Ciara is the gatekeeper of her son and husband’s gender and sexual identity is absolutely absurd.
First and foremost, we need to stop blaming Black women for literally everything. Then we need to make room for expressions of masculinity that allow for displays of affection, nudity that isn’t sexualized, and for toddlers to not be leverages against it.