Four years after releasing her The Way I Are (Natural Woman) song, Reggae singer Etana, is being labelled a fifth columnist, after seemingly making a full about-turn with her once-Afrocentric image, donning instead Eurocentric wigs, lash extensions and heavy makeup.
The back-tracking comes 13 years after The Gleaner’s Outlook Magazine described Etana as a “young singer who rejected the words and image of the sexy dancehall genre in favour of visible lifestyle defined by Rastafari” in a 2007 article. She had also said that she had a life-defining moment when she felt deep shame when she saw a five-year-old singing and dancing to a raunchy tune which she had sung noting: “I could not believe I had introduced that to her”.
“I say Rasta because it has everything to do with nature, Mother Earth and everything natural…” Etana had told the newspaper at the time.
She also told the interviewer that she got tired of doing videos in lingerie, and “not wanting to be labelled a temptress, she had shed the sex symbol image for natural hair, a new healthy diet and long skirts, and was at the same time “listening to Sizzla, Capleton and Marley talk about the black experience and embracing all that is natural and good”.
However, on her new Proppa music video from her collab with Ghanaian singer Stonebwoy which was released on Thursday night, the I Rise singer sports a long, sleek wig, moving away from her trademark Afrocentric hairstyles and garments.
The August Town native had also posted an image of herself with a seemingly svelte figure on her Instagram page, which has been attracting a lot of attention on social media, including speculations of plastic surgery. According to the STAR, Etana put together a team “comprising make-up artist Nyvra Dorelus, hairstylist Aminda Rickets, and stylist Sashon Burton. She slipped into a dress by Melissa Dunkley of Mdiz Collections and called upon the skills of photographer Marvin Bartley, and together that gave the singer that ‘wow’ effect.”
The comments across various IG pages about her trim, hourglass figure over social media have ranged from admiration to outright scorn, as well as many indicating that at first glance, they thought it was Dancehall artist Ishawna.
Many people though, commented on how gorgeous Etana looked in the photo, while others castigated her choice of makeup, complained that her skin looked lighter and questioned whether she is guilty of bleaching.
“Watch dis nice dark skinned girl who was preaching self love and all. Now plastered with fake up,” one commenter wrote.
Many even declared that it was obvious that she had “gone under the knife”. “The surgeon(s) did a very good job she looks good,” one woman wrote.
However, it could be that Etana’s garment was made with a full corset, as her rotund figure is still apparent in the Proppa music video which, incidentally, has only attracted a little over 2000 views up to midday Saturday.
In August 2016, Etana’s released her single The Way I Are, which was described by the Jamaica Star as a “scathing critique on body modification”.
Etana, who was impacted by weight gain issues after giving birth that year, had told LoopNews that she had started a rigorous weight-loss and training programme to get rid of the baby weight gained during her two pregnancies. At the time she said she had gained 40 pounds in pregnancy and lost about 30 after giving birth to a daughter who weighed nine pounds.
In The Way I Are, she sang:
‘Sorry if never
Been that girl you needed
Sorry if never
Have the figure that you’re looking for
Cause I’m a natural woman
Made of perfection my imperfections
Yeah I’m a natural woman
Freshly organic with no additions
Baby a natural woman
Don’t need your make up don’t need your cosmetics
I’m a natural woman.
Yeah baby I’m a natural woman”
She had later told The Star that the response to the song had been phenomenal and that plans were far-advanced to shoot a video to promote the single in the Caribbean and the wider diaspora, by using the song to make a political statement about the body image of women.
“We don’t need to try to fit into narrow stereotypes of how a woman should look. We should not objectify ourselves to please men, so we’re going to create a dance video for women, appreciating the way they are for The Way I Are. It is a celebration of culture, ethnicity and womanhood,” she had told the tabloid at the time.