As a woman who grew up in the Black church, I'm intimately familiar with the means by which both male and female Christians work to control every aspect of the way women behave and present themselves in a way that simply doesn't happen to men. Christian women are judged far more harshly than their male counterparts. This is often explained away as the burden of womanhood. We are, after all, called to prevent out brothers from stumbling. Women criticize other women in the church just as fervently as men.
But it seems these edicts are put in place to maintain the subordinate place of women.
Erica Campbell of Mary Mary will soon launch her solo career and released promo shots for the album on social media including the photo posted above. Erica has been on a long weight loss journey. She's wearing a white turtleneck, body con skirt, and Giuseppe Zanotti heels.
Apostle Stacey Woods saw Erica's attire and wrote this on Facebook: "THIS IS NOT OKAY. Yes, you are a beautiful, curvy woman…but NO MA’AM YOU ARE SINGING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. Saints…smh COME ON."
Mary Mary are no strangers to controversy. They have long been the targets of criticism from the more conservative factions of Gospel music for their mainstream look and sound. But with the way they've chosen to present their message, Erica and Tina can more closely connect with their young audience. There is aboslutely nothing wrong with Erica's attire.
Christians holding onto antiquated viewpoints about appropriate dress for women alienate many who wish to be apart of the body of Christ but reject the regulations that have nothing to do with the man.
Conservative Christians send a contradictory message to women. We are not given the space in the church to control our bodies or to decide for ourselves what violates our moral codes yet simultaneously we must be responsible for what we do as well as what we incite in others. The supposed sexual urges of men take primacy over the agency of women.
Teaching women that any expression of sexuality is harmful. It breeds in women a self-loathing that stems from natural inclinations and urges.
How is it that black male preachers can be notoriously flashy, but women can only serve in the church while wearing ankle length skirts and kitten heels?
Kimberly Foster is the Founder and Editor of COLOURES. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster