While others may not want to identify with being body positive for different reasons, for artist Tanerélle, it’s something she fully supports. The Atlanta-born singer says it’s not about some cliche idea of celebrating people for having the courage to wear what they want or encouraging others to love bodies they believe they can’t change. Instead, she says it’s just about an individual protecting the autonomy over their body.
“I think people get the meaning of body positivity twisted,” she shared via email. “Body positivity doesn’t mean you can’t change anything about your body, it means doing whatever you see fit to embrace [it]. Love on yourself and do things because you want to and not because someone else said it’d be better this way or look better that way.”
She’s all about doing what works for her body, including wearing what she wants, critics be damned. It was just in 2019 that she wore a low-cut dress to the BET Awards and found herself the subject of criticism over her natural breasts. And though the array of unwanted opinions could be enough to break the spirit of most of us, Tanerélle told haters, “I’m a woman and my natural tits hang and I f–king love it and I have no intention of changing it to suit your gaze.”
Little did she know that her defiance in the face of men who dared to tell her to put on a bra or cover up would not only garner her great support, but also end up empowering women like her.
“I’m elated to be someone people come to and go ‘I was scared to wear this outfit or take this picture because of my breasts but saw yours and your message and decided to go for it,'” she told us. “It’s beautiful and a reminder for me on low days. It reminds me to keep it up.”
Now the singer is taking things up a notch, representing for natural beauties as a Playboy Playmate for December. The same breasts some told her she needed to put away are on full display in a stunning photo shoot for the legendary magazine. We talked to the talented performer about seeing her body as a protest against patriarchy, how she really felt about the comments of detractors over her BET Awards red carpet look, and why it was important to use her opportunity to be in Playboy to shine a light not only on the beauty of Black bodies, but to also be honest about the Black experience. Hit the flip to check out what she had to say, and to see more stunning images from her photo shoot.
MadameNoire: I know you said that your body is a protest against patriarchy. What has the journey been like to defiantly, some might say, embrace the skin you’re in when society has said this look, these breasts, this particular beauty is what we deem appealing?
Tanerélle: I’d like to first say that it really is a shame that embracing ourselves has to be seen as an act of defiance, or this brave thing. The journey has been tumultuous and full of ups and downs. At this moment I love myself and I’m working on myself every day, but in the past this wasn’t always the case. It used to be hard not letting the hateful words of bullies repeat over and over again in my head. I’d be lying if I said things people say don’t get to me now, but I’m aware that those are just projections and have nothing to do with me at all.