Jada Pinkett Smith: Why I Chose to Pose Nude

06/11/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy Essence

When Jada Pinkett Smith made the decision to strip down for her latest photo shoot, which included shedding the taupe-colored shorts she had originally planned to wear, the actress hoped the result would inspire African-American women worldwide — beginning with 9½-year-old daughter Willow Camille Reign.

“She said, ‘Mommy, you look so elegant,'” the Essence July covergirl reveals about Willow’s reaction upon seeing the pictures.

And much to Pinkett Smith’s delight, the nude photos sparked a conversation — and a teachable moment — between the mother-daughter pair.

“She went through all of her friends and talked about all of their different personalities and what made them beautiful,” Pinkett Smith — who will be answering questions regarding the importance of education at the upcoming Essence Music Festival in New Orleans — says.

“To start the next generation of young black women with those ideas of who they are, to give them a foundation for their identity, to show them how we represent ourselves, our beauty, our bodies, our sexuality, our sensuality, our power. What greater gift could we give our daughters?”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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her on

I dont think that posing nude on the cover of a magazine is a good lesson for our girls.

jessicad on

I think she’s absolutely right! Nudity is a part of life every day, teaching my daughter to be comfortable with herself is important to me. There’s a huge difference between this and playboy, she’s not spread eagle showing her goods, she looks beautiful in my opinion. That last paragraph is wonderful.

Sandra Primrose on

Nudity might be natural, but so is going to the bathroom, and I don’t want to see a “star” do that either. So what if a star feels like it’s ok to pose nude, I DON’T LIKE IT, NOR DO I WANT TO BE ASSAULTED WITH IT AT THE CHECK STAND! She doesn’t have anymore or anyless than any other female, so get over it. I’m really amazed at how people think other people are just holding their breath to see them naked. Educate your daughter??? Show her your nudity in the privacy of your own home if you feel you must!

cris on

So posing nude on a magazine cover is inspiration for African American woman?

cris on

Sanda Prudrose…I think you are totally extreme to say you are “I DON’T LIKE IT, NOR DO I WANT TO BE ASSAULTED WITH IT AT THE CHECK STAND!” LOL!!!

jayne on

I don’t think the nudity was to be taken literally, it was a way for people to express themselves and dig deeper into themselves to discover what truly makes them beautiful. ALSO essence magazine is NOT in the check out line..so you won’t have to be ASSAULTED with it. She made it into a teaching moment also. I doubt she is being the bad mother you all are accusing her to be.

Brianne on

Since when did Essence, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone etc become soft porn magazines?

Tammy on

It’s called “screaming for attention” not a teachable moment.
If she was really wanted to teach her daughter about self respect & inner beauty she would tell her to keep her clothes on. Being naked doesn’t educate or enlighten anyone.. it just says “look at me, I’m naked”…

Lotus on

Assaulted at the check-out stand?! LMFAO! All you see are knees, arms, shoulder and face!

I also don’t see how posing nude is so inspirational, but whatever. She got a positive reaction from her own daughter so all is well.

dfs on

I don’t think there’s anything WRONG with posing nude like she has, but I think there are much better, easier ways to educate your children.

xxx on

Women with black/tan skin are so lucky. They look great no matter what. I know i feel more confident when i’m tan, i look more healthy too. She’s very pretty. Her daughter( even if she has a horrible and innapropriate hair do) is also gorgeous.
I saw Jaden on the new Justin Bieber video, and i thought that for a 12 year old he looked very little and fragile, which is weird cause his dad is a giant! But both kids are pretty.
I’d like for celebs to stop thinking that we want to see naked pictures of them, cause we really don’t.

Anonymous on

What else can we give them? CLOTHES.

SarahP on

Seriously? Do I have to pose nude on a magazine cover to teach my daughter about beauty?

ecl on

I hardly see how a black woman getting nude and focusing on her body is something empowering for them. Women’s version of empowerment has become a joke – apparently it’s just public nudity! That said, the picture is not at all offensive to me. The only part I have a problem with is to describe it as empowering.

Bugs on

Yet another celebrity who “blames” her kid for a decision to do something. So, don’t blame Jada for posing nude, it was Willow’s fault. *rolls eyes*

Gail on

You don’t have to poise nude to educate your children. Personally, I think it was to more of an attention getter for some reason unknown. Why couldn’t this be done in the privacy of their own home IF education was the true purpose? What is the need for educating YOUR child in a PUBLIC setting? Mmmmmmmmmmm

Marina on

That is not soft porn, Brianne. Believe me, I read/watch that type, and that is not how it look like.

I personally wouldn’t do it, I like being naked when I’m alone. But she may help some one out, or not, none of us will never know.

Anonymous on

seeing as she is more covered up than many lingerie and swimsuit ads, I really don’t understand what on earth all the fuss is about…

Nicole on

It is an example of empowerment to be comfortable and confident enough to pose nude because despite her beauty I’m sure she sees flaws within herself. As a mother you want to teach your children especially girls to be comfortable with their bodies and themselves. FYI (for those seeing this as a stunt for attention): She has a great looking husband, her own TV show and would get positive attention on her worst hair day. Why would she need any further attention?

JessicaC on

I couldnt care less about the nudity, it is obviously screaming “look at me” what disturbs me is that in big bold letters it says “I heart being black” yes we’re all different colors and all wonderful, but really? what would the reaction be if that said “I love being white!”? If we’re really all equal then why do we have to have black/white magazines and tv channels. Our melanin doesnt make us special, our personalities do.

Lorelei on

You can’t talk about being beautiful or showing strength with clothes on? I think the cover that Jamie Lee Curtis did a long time ago with makeup and photoshop on the cover and the inside cover without makeup and without photoshop showed beauty and strength of a real woman. She’s wearing makeup, she should wear clothes.

J on

Yay, more of the Pinkett/Smith family giving themselves pats on the back. Give us a break.

I also agree with you JessicaC. 🙂

dani on

I agree with dfs. I think a “greater gift” she could give would be to educate her daughter, to teach her to be a kind person, and not to see color lines at all…almost everything she mentioned is superficial.

anisham on

I think that this cover is very tasteful. I don’t normally approve stripping down. Personally, I think it’s a bit trashy, but this for some reason does not bother me. Jada looks great!

cris on

BTW, if she really wanted to be a role model she would have taken off the make-up (and photo-shopping)as well as the clothes she was wearing…

Anna on

How can you be assaulted but this photo? There is hardly any nudity visible. I think it would actually be refreshing if for once someone posted nude without awkwardly crossing their arms and legs to hide their nudity. Either pose nude or not.

I guess I’m not afraid of nipples like some people in the USA seem to be.

missy on

so what if she is screaming look at me, what was demi moore screaming when she posed nude pregnant…if she saw this as a teaching moment who am I or anyone for that matter to tell her that she is wrong, we are so wrapped up in what she is teaching her kids till we forget about our own and also that those are her children and as long as they are not out stealing, murdering and on drugs who are you to judge her, believe me at the end of the day… negative comments and thoughts are not what she is focused on>

jessicad on

You see much more skin on women in bikinis on other magazine covers. She didn’t say she did this for her daughter, she said she used it as a teaching moment when her daughter saw it, and I’m sure she didn’t call up the magazine and beg them to shoot her naked so she could get attention. I don’t always associate nudity with sex, human bodies are gorgeous to me. maybe I’m just a hippie, but I love being naked as much as possible and I’m so glad summer is finally here so I can swim that way:)

I do agree with JessicaC too though, if there were an all white magazine I’m sure it would be considered racist and wrong, I don’t understand the double standard there.

Grandmother on

Just tell the truth. The woman took her clothes off because she’s vain and she got paid! If stripping and publishing a picture of your body all over the world is the today’s way to teach our daughters pride, or what have you, I made a mistake when teaching my daughter and grand-daughter. I don’t think so. I didn’t have to take my clothes off to “spark a conversation”–and initiate a “teachable moment” between myself and my girls.

All my children are very proud and thankful for being African-American. We all “know” that we are beautiful without face paint, fingernail and toenail paints or even clothes for that matter.

Jada needs to get over herself. Stop use her daughter for exposing herself. All women and girls, of all colors have the same thing she has. What makes her different is she has money and took off her clothes to get more.

By the way, I didn’t spend the money buying the magazine this month. I ran across this article while surfing the net. So, I’m really not interested in reading her excuses for stripping.

Sara on

Beautiful picture, Jada is a beautiful woman. What really bothers me the most about the cover has nothing to do about Jada Pinkett-Smith, it is the “I heart being a black woman”. You should love who you are, as you are, and have pride in all things about yourself, regardless of your race. I love being a white woman, but I don’t feel the need to write 50 reasons why it is great to be a white woman. The reasons should be the same whether you are white or black or some other color. We will never be unified as a people as long as this kind of separate mentality exists. Imagine the uproar if there was magazine dedicated to white culture with a front cover story about how great it is to be a white woman. As long as this type of separate mentality exists, so will racism.

Grandmother on

Women don’t get anything out of buying a magazine with a naked woman on the front. What the h—. If Jada’s naked body on the front of a woman’s magazine is suppose to entice women to buy it, Essense missed the mark. If anything, this issue will invite lesbians to flock to the newsstands. Jada always appeared to be a bit masculine to me. Replace Jada on the cover of this “womens” magazine with a beautiful man.

JMO on

Well I will say one thing Jada is beautiful and as long as you got it, flaunt it!
That being said I don’t really see the fuss over the image but she and her commens do rub me the wrong way. The “I love being a black women”…well good for her! I love being a white women…you want to know why? Because I’ve never been a black women!! Jada certainly isn’t going to say, I love NOT being white. It’s Essence magazine which is geared toward black women. So it’s just an attention grabbing phrase and nothing more. But I do kina agree with Sara.

Barbi on

Just what her son needs to see: his mama naked in public. That should make Jada really proud. Personally, I feel Jada is an exhibionist with no respect for her body, her children or her husband. Another typical celebrity that goes overboard to get attention and be considered hip and “open-minded.” The permissive culture of secular society cheapens respect for the body and poisons our childrens’ minds.

Mary on

So proud of what she should be ashamed about.

Bugs on

Lee, in case you didn’t know , a blog is for everyone to say what they want about a topic, good or bad. A blog is not exclusively for people who like the topic in question. If we don’t like what the celebrity is saying, i think we’re free enough to say it. That’s what a blog is for.

Bugs on

And one more thing, i don’t think anyone here is saying she looks ugly. Most comments here are about what she’s saying and the purpose of posing nude, not whether she looks good or bad.

sinclair on

“I do agree with JessicaC too though, if there were an all white magazine I’m sure it would be considered racist and wrong, I don’t understand the double standard there.”

jessicad, white magazines don’t need to have the opposite declaration because so-called “white beauty” is the accepted norm, whether people want to accept it or not. Perhaps you do not realize this or have never had to care about it. If you live as a woman of color in this country, it is pretty apparent how little coverage or appreciation there is for brown/black/tan women, hence the need for titles like this on the cover of Essence. DO YOU KNOW WHY ESSENCE WAS CREATED?? If you don’t, go on the internet and find out why.

“Imagine the uproar if there was magazine dedicated to white culture with a front cover story about how great it is to be a white woman. As long as this type of separate mentality exists, so will racism.”

Sara, you think racism exists because of THIS type of separate mentality? Please do some research. Racism exists because certain parts of society believe they are superior over others. Jada’s statement is a RESULT of said racism, and the virtual whiteout which exists in so many of these magazines. Believe me, these white celebs and models do not need to vocalize “I love my whiteness”–it is already hailed as the standard throughout the world, or at least promoted and shoved down our throats as what we should all aspire to. You probably don’t see a need because in your world, you may see your own image and likeness praised on a regular basis–this is not the case for black women in this country. Walk to any newsstand and pick up the mainstream mags and see how many people of a darker hue grace the cover. May sound harsh, but the truth hurts.

Misha on

Essence is a African-American publication. It is there to empower and uplift Black people. By saying that she loves being a black woman, she is attempting to make all others feel better about themselves. If I saw a magazine with a White actress which said “I love to be white”, I would think “good for her”!
This is not about race.

Kathleen on

I completely agree with you Sandra Primrose! Thank you!

CelebBabyLover on

Mary- How on Earth is nudity something to be ashamed of?

Anyway, I find nothing wrong with Jada posing nude.

romy on

This woman bothers me so much! ALWAYS talking about all the sex she and Will have. Overcompensating? I don’t care about this cover at all, celebrities are often in their own world, which is very different from mine.

romy on

Lee, most negative comments are not attacks on her. The posts are very boring when every single comment says “Oh she’s great, I love her, so beautiful.” Other opinions make the reading interesting. Celebs know better than to come to places like this and read comments.

jessicad on

Sinclair, I should have said even I think it would be wrong to have a magazine with all white women declaring how amazing it is to be white, I just don’t understand the double standard because all women are beautiful in my opinion. You’re right in that I don’t understand what it’s like being a black woman, but I did grow up in Selma, Alabama and experienced racism against me because I’m white, which is why I wish people didn’t feel the need to still separate women because of skin color! My point, didn’t mean to offend you:)

ecl on

Well said, Sinclair! I can’t stand it how people continue to act as though raciscm doesn’t exist and that race should be ignored. People created these categories to discriminate and now want to act like there are no effects.Being color blind is just the new way to be racist so you can pretend that whites and blacks aren’t treated differently. Then, when there are unequal outcomes, you can blame the individual rather than a racist system. White women have always been the standard of what is beautiful. Sinclair is correct when she says that this is a RESPONSE to racism.

Luna on

I have three daughters. I teach them self-esteem and confidence by telling them about how beautiful all the parts of them are. We talk about how being different makes us beautiful, how being kind, and giving to others makes us beautiful. I don’t think nudity and the human body is something to be ashamed of, but I a certain level of decency is something I’m trying to instill in my girls.
As for the response to racism, I understand both sides. On one hand, it can be viewed as a double standard, because there really is no magazine or publication that says I love being a white woman or a Latina woman or an Asian woman (etc). However, I do think it is important for people of every different skin, race, and walk of life to have somewhere they can relate to that empowers them. It’s why I admire Essence. I think in the year 2010, we should be able to view this not as a reason to get upset, but a beautiful tribute to African-American women being proud of being themselves. 🙂
In case anyone’s wondering, I’m white.

Realbrother on

Real Brother here.

Keep in mind Essence is essentially a Black lesbian magazine. The former Editor came out of the closet a few years back. I think its all right. The sexuality of Black lesbians is no different then anyone else’s and should be exhibited.

I’d rather see Jada Pinkett Smith nude then read all the Black man HATING articles about Black men being unmarryable and on the Down Low or Black women on the cover with White babies touting the virtue of Interracial Relationships and all of their usual Black male bashing nonsense.


sinclair on

“Sinclair, I should have said even I think it would be wrong to have a magazine with all white women declaring how amazing it is to be white, I just don’t understand the double standard because all women are beautiful in my opinion”

hi jessicad, thanks for the clarification. I must apologize for the intense response; I am just frustrated and annoyed by these useless glossies that women continue to support. While you are open-minded enough to see and appreciate all colors of beauty, the MSM (mainstream media) does not, has no plans to, and continues to fervently deny the existence of women of color in this world. I won’t buy them and I feel no pity when I read that circulation numbers continue to fall. KARMA.

Last, Jada’s statement is an affirmation of her Black pride, something which people find difficult to hear. Your history was not denigrated or denied in textbooks, classrooms, and by bigoted Americans and politicians. You may not understand it, and it not just about someone hatin’ on your skin color–which you have experienced as well–it is an historical, psychological, and mental battle that black women are fighting in this country. Jada’s statement continues to be necessary because black life in this country is still not valued as highly as Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, etc. Look at the education and health disparities, the continual marginalization of the black experience in this country–as we live it–not some white anchor or network corporate shill portrays it.

Jada has to make that statement because there are a lot of little black girls out there that are bombarded with the “you aren’t ***t and you won’t be ***t” message constantly. I know because I hear about it and see it. It is an uphill battle and Jada’s declaration stands to uplift young women of color–did she not say this in her interview?? What is there to not get?? And what really bothers you about this statement, seeing as how she is part of an underrepresented minority that is still denied adequate exposure? I’m sorry, some of us cannot be color blind; we may not see color, but OTHERS see OUR color. You may experienced a taste of this in Selma, but try experiencing it across the country and worldwide.

How do you think ppl overcome their plights in life, by staying silent? NO. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. This is about recognition and appreciation. As a white person, I am sorry, but I don’t think you get it, especially since you consider it a double standard–these are not two EQUAL scenarios. One group is of privilege–whites–the other (AA/Asian/Hisp/etc) is not. The two are not analagous in that Whites in this country have benefited economically, socially, and politically from the disenfranchisment, enslavement, and second-class status of minorities in this country.

Whites cannot whine about not being able to say “I love being white”: a) Why should they? They created and benefit from the existing hegemonic ideologies pertaining to aesthetics which exist today. Unfortunately, people of color have played along with this. b) They do not have a history of having to fight for their civil, social, and economic rights in a country hostile to anyone of their race. c) Every magazine out there makes the statement “I love being white” by default in their insistance upon using almost exclusively white models. THIS IS THEIR MESSAGE, you just aren’t getting it.

BlackGuy on

The June 11 comment of Grandmother above:
“Just tell the truth. The woman took her clothes off because she’s vain and she got paid! If stripping and publishing a picture of..”
..says it all.

A silly narcissistic woman who gave a pointless exhibition of her poor taste,judgement in the context of soft porn.

Jeanie on

I agree with the comment that if Jada really wanted to teach her daughter a “lesson” she should have opted for an un-photo-shopped cover with no make-up. She obviously has a face full of make-up and the smooth finish definitely looks like the work of someone talented with photo-editing. There is nothing “natural” about that photo at all.

Lotus on

Seriously?! A black, lesbian magazine?! Seriously?! Most absurd thing I’ve heard all day.

Brittany on

Seriously? Posing nude is not an example society should be setting for young girls. *rolls eyes*

Becca on

I’m a Black girl and I don’t really see why this bothers people. A body is a body is a body. Who cares! If I could walk down the street naked without having to worry about anyone looking or acting crazy, then I would do it in a heartbeat! Nudity is normal and theres nothing wrong with it.

Btw, I think anyone who poses on the cover of a magazine is trying to get attention – durr! They’re on the cover of a magazine!! It doesn’t matter what they wear… or don’t wear, haha.

Lauren on

You took the words right out of my mouth.

jjtigner on

When did knees, arms, and shoulders become offensive? I think Jada looks great! There is more skin shown on daytime television and in Victoria Secret ads.

Desiree on

I think it’s a beautiful tasteful cover.

I’m a mother and a boudoir photographer and I meet many many women who come in for photo shoots and leave feeling empowered so I totally understand what she is saying.

I wouldnt even care if my kids saw this at a checkout stand. They probably wouldnt even notice, honestly.

electra on

Its odd, my aunt suscribes to essence and she’s on the cover- clothed. The cover says something like “celebrate your body and skintones” but apparently NOT your hair. On the cover she’s got a head full of long wet n’ wavy weave blowing in the fan generated wind. Its just sending mixed messages to the black community.

Her being nude on the cover does nothing for me. A wealthy petite, light skinned actress on the cover of a magazine. What is so mind blowing about that?

Lorus on

We see more skin of models wearing bikinis and tiny skirts than we do of Jada. Would you people be happy to see the string of a bikini up around her neck and the string across her hip for the bottoms?
Some people are so anal.

Anonymous on

I will say that I love blogs such as these where ALL women (regardless of race) can speak their mind and share their opinion…LOVE IT! Sinclair and Luna took the words out of my mouth so I will keep it short.

Essence was created because the mass of magazines out there did not feature, include, or focus on Black women. Many people (both black and white) fail to realize (or don’t want to realize) the many inherent physical qualities (skin, hair, etc.), social, and economic realities/differences of black people in the US; this magazine was created in response to that. I think it’s very important for ANY woman to be empowered, but with that said, “white beauty” is mainstream beauty – simply a fact.

Nudity is very natural – we come into this world naked for goodness sake! Children should be taught that nudity is natural and there is nothing wrong with it and that nudity does not automatically equate with sexuality. It’s the action you do with your nudity that makes it sexual. With that said, give me a size 14+ buxom dark skinned black woman naked on that cover – THAT truly defines “Bold and Beautiful” as the cover advertises……… (oh, but nobody wants to see that….)

LaSimba on

It is most unfortunate that a young African-American Woman with the star power of Jada would send such a message to our youth. Jada missed the opportunity to demonstrate the sterling qualities of a Lady. The greater tragedy is that Essence Magazine printed the photo on it’s cover.

Anonymous on

Sinclair, that racist card is played the h*** out!!!! Its 2010 not 1960 get over it! Oprah, obama, venus, serina, tiger!!!! Need I say more!!