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Beyonce performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
Beyonce performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Beyoncé a bad role model for girls, says open letter to Michelle Obama Add to ...

Beyoncé is a good role model for young girls. Discuss.

This debate is currently unfolding online thanks to Rakhi Kumar, who posted an open letter to Michelle Obama on Huffington Post bemoaning her disappointment that the First Lady listens to the performer with her impressionable daughters.

Kumar, an author and editor based in California, seems especially offended by the glittery, sexy bodysuit that Beyoncé is wearing on her new Mrs. Carter World Tour.

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“Beyoncé, performing in sheer body suits, nipples displayed, mouth open, high heels and sheer tights, shaking her butt on stage, can no longer be held by world leaders as an icon of female success. Because for as long as she is, we are feeding a demonic myth that women must make themselves sexually available to enjoy ultimate success.”

Indeed, no one would describe the outfit as demure. But the letter repeats over and over again that the singer does not have to stoop to such near nudity to be admired.

If you look closely at the outfit, you will notice that the bodysuit did not reveal Beyoncé’s actual nipples; it was merely a sparkly trompe l’oeil effect.

Today, The Guardian’s Caperton Gillet has responded to Kumar’s post, pointing this out and calling foul over some of the other anti-Beyoncé charges.

Mostly, she makes the case that Beyoncé cannot be held responsible for the world’s crimes against women. And that she is not the first mega performer to appear in a questionable outfit. And that the First Lady can handle raising her daughters just fine, thanks.

Gillet includes Beyoncé’s commitment to such issues as gender equality, the gender wage gap and the fact that Queen B has an all-female band.

There’s no right answer, of course. This is what happens when one view of a women is determined by her image and the other by her actions. Ultimately, the feminist/slut-shaming debate about pop stars is an issue that has legs.

As Gillet writes, “At the risk of being one of those ‘don't we have more important things to talk about’ feminists… don't we? Not that anyone is beyond reproach, but God knows Beyoncé's been picking up reproach for every damn thing she does lately.”

Perhaps the larger question is: Will a female pop star ever be able to wear a sexy bodysuit without it being scrutinized as anything more than a costume?

 

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