Amber Riley is hell-bent on making sure that you remember her name and her story as she continues to find her voice. We were introduced to her as the character Mercedes Jones, and fell in love with her after six seasons on Fox comedy Glee. Little did we know the starlet was dazzling us on-screen with her beauty and talent all while battling obstacles with self-love, acceptance, depression, and anxiety. Now at 34, she is ready to show us how much she's grown into her Big Girl Energy. Recently, she sat with Hello Beautiful to give a candid account of her experiences:
"It got to the point where I didn't know who I was because I didn't accept myself wholly. I accepted myself as a talent, that's where I found my value, but I didn' accept myself and where I was in my body. Although I thought I was beautiful and I did get attention, that wasn't the issue; it was an inner issue. It didn't have anything to do with guys. It had more to do with me being able to look in the mirror and mean it when I say that I'm beautiful."
Now, why on Earth would this bombshell struggle with knowing without a doubt that she is beautiful you ask? Well...because she did not fit the standard of beauty in America at the time, and still does not, but she's deciding to say: "F*ck that, I'm beautiful." She's beautiful, and if ever she decides to lose weight she will still be beautiful. Her size doesn't define her ability to be beautiful in any capacity. That precisely is why she is steering clear of labels such as "body positive" and moving in the direction of body acceptance. Amber explains:
"My body is mine. I don't need a community telling me what to do with it. I always have to be 100 percent real with myself...Honestly, if your confidence is predicated on the way that I look, it's not confidence. I'm not anybody's idol. Don't worship me. Don't get used to me being any size. I can get bigger, I can get smaller. I'm going to love myself either way, but I'm not asking for permission."
TUH… It appears as though Amber does not give a damn if her body or how she decides to present it makes you uncomfortable. She wants to make sure that we understand she is pretty as a woman periodt, not just pretty for a big girl, and does not want to feel guilt or be described as abandoning a whole community if she so chooses to alter her appearance. This realization likely came after time in therapy processing the trauma she endured as a result of her body developing womanly curves while she was still very much a child. Amber shares:
"Part of my anxiety had to do with my size...I was overly sexualized when I was young so I'd always dress in big t-shirts and shapeless stuff my whole entire life. I didn't like that I had hips already. I didn't like that I had boobs. I hated it because I didn't like that kind of attention. Being young, I didn't know that people oversexualized Black girls in general."
Now that she is channeling both her prosperity and pain into her music, she is able to both heal and give us a glimpse into her soul and alter-ego Riley. This has proven to be beneficial for the artist as she encounters several losses in 2020 of Naya Rivera and Jas Waters, two powerhouses gone entirely too soon. Though navigating through the pain of losing loved ones is a life-long journey, she is committed to living her life authentically and unapologetically moving forward:
"Many people often think that grieving is a destination. Some days I think of her and I laugh and some days I think of her and I cry. I also lost an incredible friend to suicide this year who is an incredible writer and I was looking forward to working with her, Jas Waters. So that was really difficult. She committed suicide and she died a couple of weeks before Naya so it was like a double blow."
As far as the future, Amber is taking it day by day like the rest of us, making sure to give thanks for what she already has and empowering others to know what they want and go get it.
Be sure to check out Amber's New Single BGE.
Featured image by Ron Adar / Shutterstock.com