(Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage)
From the recreated videos and precise choreography to the uncanny resemblance between the three actresses who star as T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli in the film — Drew Sidora, Lil Mama and Keke Palmer, respectively — the VH1 biopic Crazysexycool: The TLC Story was an amazingly accurate retelling of a time in music history that was just a few years ago, but in ways feels like eons. The film focused on four major story lines that surrounded the group: Chilli's rocky relationship with Austin, T-Boz's battle with sickle cell anemia, their bankruptcy despite selling 10 million records, and most tragically, Left Eye's death in a car accident in 2002.
Viewers might not have noticed, but there was another sub-theme taking place during the movie: fashion! TLC proved to be the top-selling girl group ever with their clothes on. They became famous for their oversize shirts, baggy pants and Timberland boots. And their fashion choices weren’t by accident, nor were they the idea of a daring stylist. In fact, the film shows a scene where manager Pebbles tells the young ladies that she envisions them in cute outfits with heels, and then they respond telling her that they’re happy with their stylish big clothes and matching bandannas.
Today's stars that famous as 1990s-era TLC are quick to put their bare skin on display. There's Beyoncé, who has made wearing a sexy leotard on stage seem like the norm, and Rihanna, who will shock fans in a denim thong one day and a see-through blouse the next. And we can't leave out Miley Cyrus, who's been opting out of clothes all together.
Hey, to each her naked own, but today’s music stars' wardrobes would not lead a young fan to fathom what she could do with clothes intact like TLC succeeded to do: be super popular without having to be super sexual. Chilli, T-Boz, Left Eye and peers like Aaliyah proved that a peek of stomach could be sensual enough. Granted, while none of these svelte singers broadened the culture’s narrow thinking on what a pop star should look like, they made monstrous strides in getting us to rethink how women need to be seen to sell records.
In addition, TLC came out at the same time video girls were also gaining popularity for exposing their goodies, so their presence was a welcomed relief and needed break. Even more so, their unique look was followed by earnest songs about female empowerment, safe sex and self-love. And the fact that they could stand on stage and in magazines with their hands on their clothed hips made their message even stronger.
So, while Beyoncé and other chart-topping female artists of today sing songs of girl power, there's more risk of their message being lost because they’re delivering it half naked. This isn't about criticizing anyone's current success because the goal of female empowerment is for females to be able to do whatever they believe is best. Instead, it is a reflection on the lost magic that made TLC the phenomena that no one can ever touch.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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