When Maren Morris agreed to pose for Playboy, she knew it would ruffle some feathers. But the country artist said she has come to terms with speaking up being her role within a genre in which she says not many people do.
"I don’t want to be one of those head-in-the-sand artists who’s only worried about keeping the money in my pocket," she told the magazine in an extended Q&A. "I get only one life here, and if I’m going to be a musician and do this thing I’ve been given a gift for, I would like people to know what I believe in. This is where I stand, this is what I want, this is the world I want my kids to live in. That’s why I speak up when I do. It definitely ruffles feathers. Not many country artists speak up."
Morris posed for several photos in Playboy, and some of them made headlines before the photo shoot was published on Tuesday. Appearing topless was a risk for Morris and she was met with criticism for the steamy pics.
"I knew it would piss some people off that I was in a bra top," she told Playboy.
But the "Girl" singer defended the pictures, saying she drew inspiration from country legend Dolly Parton who posed for Playboy in 1978.
"I knew it would piss some people off that I was in a bra top."
"I remember Dolly Parton’s amazing Playboy cover and reading about the drama surrounding this wholesome figure being part of a magazine that has showcased naked women for decades," Morris told the magazine. "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."
Morris said she was "intrigued" by "many of the moves Dolly made in her career" that were seen as "bucking the status quo."
"As a woman in country music—as a woman in any genre—it always fascinated me. So when I heard this magazine wanted to interview and photograph me, I thought, 'Okay, I’ve seen a lot of wonderful spreads you guys have done with artists I love, such as Halsey, so what the hell'?"
Morris, who recently celebrated one year of marriage to fellow country artist Ryan Hurd, said her husband was very supportive of her Playboy shoot.
"Being married for the past year has also helped me figure out more who I am independently," she said. "For example, my husband is very much a feminist, and I’ve never really done anything that’s freaked him out. He has always been accepting. Even with Playboy, he was like, 'That’s really hot.' It’s awesome to be with somebody who is an equal and isn’t trying to make you feel like a skank because you’re proud of your body—someone who’s not watering down your ideologies for patriarchal and bulls--t standards that women in country music have been locked into for the past several decades."
As Morris looks ahead to continue establishing herself in the music industry, she said she doesn't plan to stop singing about topics that are important to her.
"I’m growing up, and that doesn’t necessarily mean becoming more mature or wiser or buttoning things up a bit more. Sometimes it’s letting it all be a little more freewheeling."