Between now and last week, nun-related happenings took over the news.
The Conjuring spinoff horror movie The Nun hit cinemas and I loved it (contrary to what most critics thought).
And recently, it was Beverly Osu’s turn to prop up Catholic aesthetics in a risqué cover for Taylor Live Magazine’s latest issue, which was, in itself, a kind of horror to devout Nigerian Catholics and Christians in general.
The holy uproar leaked from Beverly’s Instagram – where she had published the images cloaked as a nun and puffing on a cigarette – and furiously burned into Twitter.
The consensus? Crucify her for she hath sinned. Someone even asked God to punish her generation.
One image showed a rosary intertwined around Beverly Osu’s fingers and it was deemed blasphemous.
The sweeping criticism, as I saw them, was drenched in familiar misogyny, the same kind that spans through the Bible and still functions as a blueprint in marginalising women in today’s world.
Put bluntly, I didn’t find the images particularly groundbreaking. Nor original.
But for the purpose of allowing Beverly communicate intimate details about her life and her imperfect relationship with God, her cover star portrait was spot on.
Brilliant, even. “Confusion and depression took a huge toll on me after BBA (The Chase) 2013, even though I made history in the game (I was never nominated for eviction through the entire show).”
Beverly’s time on Big Brother Africa: The Chase was memorable, all credit to her romantic coupling with South Africa’s Angelo and their raunchy, intimate sessions in the house which drew a media backlash in Nigeria.
Her post-reality show fame involved racking up acting roles and sustaining her pre-existing modelling career, but the journey was never rosy.
According to Beverly, she had two near-death experiences and although she didn’t reveal the circumstances, it was harrowing for her.
“I cried and begged God for wisdom and direction…and then it hit me, I realized direction is better than speed. It’s hard to sacrifice speed when you are used to being on fast track in life, this was hard for me to understand.”
With the uptick in celebrities coming out to reveal struggles with their mental health, the revelation of Beverly’s depression is an extra footnote in studying this development.
That said, it’s easy to diminish Beverly’s experiences when one is hyper-focused on the magazine’s Catholic-themed cover, jarringly audacious in a way that highlights female creatives pushing boundaries and conventions in the era of increasingly packaged pop culture.
Case in point: Ariana Grande’s powerfully feminine reimagining of God in God is a Woman, and Beyoncé turning the historically white space of the Louvre Museum for black excellence and equal footing with Jay Z in the video for Apesh*t.
Most interestingly, the Beverly cover shoot has revealed the hypocrisy of Catholics and those of the Christian faith, complicit by showing no outrage in the Church’s cover-up of priests sexually molesting children.
On a grassroots level, members of local churches ascribe their spiritual leaders with a power and reverence that blinds them to their allegations of sexual misconduct, selfish human impulses and continued embezzlement of funds.
Toxic, homophobic sermons are hardly ever challenged because homosexuality is the only sin that matter, further polluting the body of Christ that ought to be an immaculate source of love and acceptance. Let he without sin cast the first stone, Jesus said, and he was damn right.