While I respect Rihanna's willingness to defend herself against detractors, it looks like the alleged comments made by TLC members T-Boz and Chilli criticizing the singer's CFDA Awards "naked dress" were taken out of context. In fact, both the women say there weren't even talking about Rihanna. The surviving members of the seminal girl group sat down recently to clarify their thoughts on the emerging beef.
T-Boz told the interviewer that they weren't talking about Rihanna in the interview because they did not see her outfit. "I didn't know there was an award show, and I had no clue what she wore," she explained. The women note that they were talking about the entire entertainment industry and not a single artist. But the Ri clapped back quickly, and T-Boz and Chilli did take issue with Rihanna making derogatory about the group in response to what had allegedly been said. "If you have a problem and you're in the industry, holler at us."
For many young Black women, TLC provided an important image of Black women who were unafraid to be sexual, and it's nice to see that they did not try to tear Rihanna down.
On what they meant with the “you don’t have to be naked” comments:
T-Boz: Someone asked a question, ‘Have we seen Rihanna’s outfit?’ and I said no because we’re over here [in Australia] touring and I didn’t know there was an award show and I didn’t know what she wore.
We never mentioned any artists’ name. And the unfortunate part is we were giving a positive message to little girls. We were saying that it’s cool if you don’t want to wear clothes. You can do what you want, we don’t care. We were talking to the little girls who
want to be on television or be singers, even like reality shows. You don’t have to feel forced. Because a lot of record companies, labels say, ‘You gotta take your clothes off.’ And they even took my comment, ‘a spade is a spade’ out of context, sliced, cut it up and manipulated to get a good story. I was talking about television shows. And then you heard me say something like, ‘Every time we see ‘you,’ you’re naked’ and they put her picture up. C’mon man. How can I talk about something I didn’t even see or care about?
Chilli: When we’re talking about people not wearing clothes or being naked all the time or whatever, that’s a whole lot of people. It’s not just artists. It’s actors, actresses, people that aren’t even doing that. And I said this, I was like, if that’s their thing and they feel comfortable doing that then whatever, that works for them. But you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to. We don’t want people to think that that’s what you have to do.
T-Boz: I’ve worked in the studio with a lot of young girls and they’ll go, ‘Oh the label is telling me to take off my clothes and I don’t feel comfortable.’ Well if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it. For those who do, go ‘head!
On the Twitter Beef with Rihanna:
Chilli: It does not bother me at all because I understand that the job we have, that comes with it. What is not cool is if we have a problem with an artist or if an artist has a problem with us, come to us directly. Talk to us. Don’t start a Twitter war and all that kind of stuff. That’s silly.
On the topless picture of TLC Rihanna posted as her Twitter background:
T-Boz The one picture in 22 years of our whole career and it was for breast cancer awareness. One picture you find?
Chilli: That’s why we did it. There’s this one picture of me on a chair [for a magazine] and it was about loving your body or whatever. So for us, if we do something like that, there is a reason behind it. It’s not just because we just feel so comfortable and this is what we’re doing and it’s just for nothing or to get attention. That’s not what we do.
Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor of For Harriet. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster