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India Arie Blasts Janelle Monáe & Megan Thee Stallion's Performances

India Arie Blasts Janelle Monáe & Megan Thee Stallion's Performances

Janelle Monae, India Arie, Megan Thee Stallion
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The Grammy Award-winning singer shared her thoughts on Instagram.


It’s no secret that Janelle Monáe and Megan Thee Stallion like to promote body positivity and show off some skin in their respective bodies of work. Thankfully, these two musicians have always come from a place where they have agency over where, when, and how they present their bodies to the public.

Recently, both Monáe and Thee Stallion’s performances at the 2023 Essence Festival went viral. Monáe flashed their breast during their set to show how comfortable they are with their body. Thee Stallion had a blast on stage while twerking and owning her sexuality at all times. However, these performances didn’t sit well with Grammy Award-winning singer India Arie.

“The issue is what is context. Humanity does everything. But does every thing belong in a stage? No. Is everything for kids? No. Is everything for every body? No,” Arie wrote in an Instagram caption (via TMZ). “So when we as a culture make something like this mainstream, it shows a lack of discretion [and] discernment. To those in the comments who laugh at anyone who wants these things for [our] culture, you certainly have that right. Just as many folks have the right to want our mainstream international export – our music – to show us in a respectful light.”

She continued, “I’d like to go on the record saying: this won’t age well, and that’s my issue. I love Janelle and Meg the way I love us all, and I don’t like this moment. Don’t bother debating me lol [I don’t care] and I do this. For 25 years I’ve done this. So, read, ponder, or don’t.”

India ArieInstagram

Arie’s post appears to have been deleted from Instagram. As of this writing, neither Monáe or Thee Stallion seem to have responded to the singer’s criticism of their performances. Given that neither of them is known to “clap back” in such situations, it’s unlikely there’ll be any kind of response.

Overall, though, it is disappointing that we’re still living in a world where bodies – particularly bodies of those who aren’t straight cis white males – are being “policed” by others. While there is a very valid point to be made about certain bodies being hypersexualized in mainstream media through the male gaze, that couldn’t be further away from the reality when it comes to Monáe and Thee Stallion’s work. These are two people in charge of their bodies who are choosing to show and celebrate them as they please.

It should also be noted that Monáe and Thee Stallion didn’t do anything too out of the ordinary at this year’s Essence Festival when looking back at past performances from these artists, so this particular criticism from Arie feels somewhat random and misplaced.

We absolutely stan Janelle Monáe and Megan Thee Stallion, and hope that they’ll continue to share their art with us however they intend to do so!

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Bernardo Sim


Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.