(Essence) When Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell posted a new photo of herself on her Instagram page to announce her recent Grammy nomination, few could have predicted the firestorm it would spark in the Christian community. In the now infamous photo Campbell is wearing a figure-hugging white dress that shows off her curves. Way more than some Christians expect to see from a Gospel singer.
A week later, the photo is still a hot topic. “I’m taking it in stride and I’m keeping it moving,” Campbell tells ESSENCE.com. “When we took the picture I felt beautiful, I felt confident, I felt sexy and I felt strong.”
“I thought I looked cute,” she says jokingly, “but it obviously offended some people, which was never my intention.”
Campbell says soon after taking the photo, she sent it to her husband, producer Warryn Campbell, and her family, who supported her. “Our whole family loved it,” says her sister Tina Campbell. “You see grace, you see beauty, you see elegance and style. It’s wholesome.”
The criticism has Campbell thinking there needs to be a bigger conversation about Christianity and sexuality. “This is about confidence and realizing that God made you and that you are beautiful just the way you are,” she says. “I think that young girls shouldn’t only get sexy images from people who are not proclaiming Jesus. But I am. And I’m cute too.”