Commentary: Why Everyone Should Celebrate Nia Long Getting Naked

What the star's latest photo shoot says about beauty and confidence. 

Posted: 04/23/2014 03:25 PM EDT
Nia Long

A star getting naked is barely news anymore. Showing a nipple, a butt cheek, even going the full monty and swinging from a shower rod isn't off limits in the name of gaining income and notoriety (hey there, Mimi Faust). But in the oversaturated field of celeb nudie shots, it’s still possible to make being in the buff noteworthy. And each year, Allure magazine shows how with their annual "Nudes" issue, where the famous strip down and pose for the camera and then confess how they really feel. Past issues have included Kelly Rowland, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union and Jill Scott.

This year, there is Nia Long. She has managed to be famous for decades, which is hard since Hollywood likes to rotate in new "It Girls" as frequently as possible. But harder still, she has stayed famous with all of her clothes on, one of the few starlets of longevity who hasn’t disrobed on-screen. Aside from an Ebony cover — where she was shot in nothing but a pregnant belly, long weave and arms crossed over her breasts — Nia has not gone nude until Allure, where she is lying on a beach, with her back arched and thighs covered with sand.

The pose is sexy. It could easily be in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. But Long’s accompanying interview is a reminder that sexy and sensual don’t have to be about offering your body up so other people can ogle, it can also be a way to celebrate yourself. She says, “The point is to capture the true essence of beauty in our most comfortable state — and that is nude."

It may be “the most comfortable state,” but like the rest of us, Long isn’t super comfortable about taking it all off and then showing everyone. She admitted to the magazine that she had not eaten a bite of food all day before the shoot and had run for 45 minutes. Had they asked, she may have said that it might look hot to lie naked in the sand, but in reality it is gritty and itchy and hard to fully wash off. Long also admitted that after having two children, her breasts are not what they used to be. “I’m not going to lie,” she said.

This capacity to be honest about what it took to do this — including, it seems, hunger — makes the Nia Long photograph so necessary beyond being a beautiful picture of a beautiful woman. It’s a reminder that our bodies aren’t amazing and photo-worthy because they are perfect or because they have not changed since we were teens, but because they, and we, are beautiful. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until next year’s Allure nudes to remember again.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Courtesy of Allure Magazine, May 2014)

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