After a year and change spent indoors, it was likely inevitable that our reemergence into social life might be accompanied by a bit of...exhibitionism. The 2021 BET Awards proved a prime opportunity; as reimagined and socially distanced formats continue to change the awards show landscape (in many ways for the better), our best, brightest and Blackest were celebrating in skin-baring style.
The Root’s staff entertainment writer Tonja Stidhum was on site at the ceremony Sunday night and has the scoop on the performances and winners, but here at The Glow Up, we’ve got our eye on style. While awards shows are no strangers to big reveals, we couldn’t help but notice this year’s BET Awards were more revealing than most, rife with sheer fabrics, mile-high slits and strategic cutouts on most of its attendees and performers.
This was the Year of the Woman at BET—and there were plenty of women to celebrate. But of course, when it comes to reveals, one woman won the night. Cardi B made her second pregnancy announcement much like she made her first—during a performance. However, this time around, the Grammy-winning artist (or “Grammy-winning vagina,” as she puts it) took it a step further, rocking a bejeweled catsuit with a sheer panel over her baby bump as she dropped it low and spit her verse on Migos’ “Type Sh*t.”
Ever the showstopper, Cardi timed the performance with the drop of a more formal announcement on social media, once again posing in the nude, as she did during her first pregnancy. In fact, the rapper was technically wearing more this time around, as she was adorned only in jewelry, tattoos and what appeared to be a plaster cast of her pregnant torso—oh, and about 36 inches of hair.
Of course, Cardi is no stranger to celebrating skin—and was far from the only one to do so on Sunday night. Her “WAP” partner Megan Thee Stallion was racking up wins while also strategically revealing “body-ody-ody” throughout the evening’s festivities, giving a quartet of gowns and garter-belted looks to accompany her four BET Awards.
In an evening celebrating Black women, it was refreshing to see plenty of intergenerational respect being paid. Aside from host Taraji P. Henson and Lifetime Achievement honoree Queen Latifah, luminaries like Maxine Waters, Issa Rae, Naomi Campbell, Marsai Martin, Lena Waithe, Jill Scott, Lil’ Kim and more. Another sartorial tribute? Zendaya’s quiet homage to a queen not in attendance on Sunday, as she donned a diaphanous Versace gown which remixed a dress worn by Beyoncé during her performance at the 3rd annual BET Awards in 2003.
But the evening didn’t only belong to the women. Before he stunned the audience with perhaps the perfect closing performance for Pride Month, Lil Nas X gave a gender-fluid performance on the red carpet in two looks, a floral suit by Richard Quinn and a gown and jacket combo by Andrea Grossi, the latter of which evoked royalty realness with Versailles-worthy panniers in its voluminous skirt, which hung by suspenders over the artist’s bare chest.
Who else made a statement on the BET Awards red carpet? In a season of mass exposure, here were some of other looks being served on Sunday night.