play, girl, play

So if you haven’t heard already, this week country artist Maren Morris made her debut in Playboy magazine. I’d seen some of the preview shots on Instagram and found them rather striking – no nip, but a lot of hip cowgirl, ’70s influence. Only a few hours later, I received a text from my mom, who was rather offended by this development in Maren’s career:

“Why would she pose for Playboy? It seems to go against Me Too and she certainly doesn’t need the attention or $$$!!!”

True, she doesn’t. But now that women across the country are taking back their voice, and country women aren’t getting the radio play they deserve, and country music isn’t always country anymore, all the rules we thought we knew have officially gone out the window. Because Maren Morris in Playboy magazine is actually an empowering and female-positive self love kind of thing, and that’s exactly how it feels when you see all the pictures and read through her interview.

This spread isn’t about nudity. It’s about truth.

credit: Playboy

“I’m speaking such a loud, noisy concept of what it means to be a woman in the music industry right now. This feels like I’m amplifying a message I’ve been passionate about since the beginning that has intensified in the past year,” she responds when posed a question about how people might react to her appearing in the magazine. “I remember Dolly Parton’s amazing [October 1978] PLAYBOY cover and reading about the drama surrounding this wholesome figure being part of a magazine that has showcased naked women for decades. It was such a faux pas in country music, and yet she ended up making one of the most iconic PLAYBOY covers of all time. Not many other country artists have done that.”

granted, that bunny is pretty creepy & unnecessary

The interview is real gold for Maren’s career – she gets to talk about the role she plays in the writing and production of her own music. She gets to talk about her marriage, her political beliefs, her outspoken nature, and the body shaming she faced for showing herself off on her own album cover.

What I really learned from this article that I love about is her ability to openly be both a feminist and a romantic. In a world that might want to assume strong women don’t want or need a man, she admits that “it’s not a weakness to be vulnerable with somebody else, to share all your light and your darkness with them, to trust that they won’t trample your heart or judge you”. She believes it’s more badass to stay in love, to work through the struggles, to feel like you can open up and be real with someone, which is exactly what she tried to do with her latest record, Girl.

I’ll be honest – Maren Morris scares me a little bit. I feel like, if we met, she’d probably think I was pretty lame. But man, do I look up to her and appreciate what she’s saying in this interview. It’s everything I want from the Women in Country Music movement, and the fact that she’s bounced in and out of pop will practically become null and void when The Highwomen break onto the scene.

But seriously. Check out The Highwomen. Maren, Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby? I’m so dang freakin’ excited about what they’re doing.

And on top of this, you know what else I learned? Playboy is actually putting out some really good and valuable content. Check out these features on some more badass ladies that are sitting right there on the home page of Playboy.com. Trust me – you can type that in your browser without fear of a single naked lady popping up on your screen (sorry, fellas – you’re welcome, Mom):

Roxane Gay

Lizzo

Elizabeth Warren

And to read the Maren Morris feature in its entirety, click here.