I've never accepted the term "daddy issues". It has always rubbed me the wrong way because it automatically puts a permanent stain on a woman's forehead. It seems to provide a convenient excuse for any failed relationship where there's no apparent wrong-doing on the man's part, whether it's really the woman's fault or not.
In the past, I also wasn't into applauding men who were present for their children, either. It seemed weird to clap for fathers who did what they were supposed to do, after all, we don't do this for mothers. But I realize that part of my thinking could come from a place of mild resentment considering I didn't have the most ideal relationship with my father.
I must say that I'm now in awe of those same fathers. It's that fascination that made me tune into the OWN special They Call Me Dad earlier this month. The show put a spotlight on male celebrities who play an active role in their children's lives. Men like author and filmmaker, Bishop T.D. Jakes, gospel artist Kirk Franklin and musical entertainer and renowned DJ, Derrick "D-Nice" Jones, talked about their journeys from youth to fatherhood and demonstrated how they show up for their kids.
The men also made the distinction between father and dad––the latter being more than biological.
And their children, particularly their daughters, explained how they viewed their dads in their lives. Third-year law student Ashli Jones sees D-Nice as her advocate and real-life superhero while Woman Evolve founder Sarah Jakes Roberts sees Bishop Jakes as Liam Neeson's character in the movie Taken, traveling across the world battling bad men to save his baby if he had to. Both the dads and their children describe the paternal role as protector, guide, and provider.
I grew up in a single-family home with my mom and I saw my father usually on Friday nights. He was my board game partner, popping the plastic bubble on hours of Trouble, and my card game teacher, showing me strategy on everything but Spades.
It took a few years to learn that this wasn't exactly normal and I'm not just referring to youth who live in two-parent households as normalcy. In fact, this was complicated. My father was actually married and lived a few miles from the home where I lived with my mom. Truthfully, I didn't really know him, know him because there was a huge part of his life that I was excluded from. This fact became more evident after my mom passed away and I moved to my grandparents' home two backyards, a road, and a front yard away from my father's house.
It's when I had to acknowledge that that's not a world I was part of. I wasn't exactly welcomed in his house, at least in the beginning. I didn't get to meet paternal family members when they came to town. I attended the same school as my cousins and we knew each other but the kinship was unspoken.
While I was born out of a less than ideal union, I don't accept fault but I still can't help but feel that some parts of me are incomplete and not accepted.
I'd never use the words "superhero", "protector", "guide" or "advocate" as the young ladies in the OWN special did. And while "provider" would be a fair descriptor, what does that really mean? As Bishop Jakes said, it's about the presence, not the presents. I couldn't even say I felt defended. That was another thing that became quite clear and turned an amicable relationship into a deteriorating one near and at his death. Many times I question why I even bothered to show up at all.
I'm not trying to judge, express guilt, or point any blame, though. I get that parents do the best they can at the moment. But the actions or inactions of absent parents do inadvertently put us in precarious positions and get used against us daughters in a demeaning way during adulthood, particularly in intimate relationships.
I repeatedly made poor decisions in men, specifically choosing those who were emotionally unavailable, which I talk about in a separate article. And I also had the habit of staying in those "situationships" long beyond their expiration dates. It's like I was determined to make them choose me back.
Hearing Kirk Franklin say that dads are the first men to teach women love and self-worth last week prompted me to just Google "daddy issues". It wasn't that I was owning the label or anything. But I was owning my failure in relationships. I'm at a place where I can write all day about them. I'm just leery of blanket diagnoses.
I already knew society would say, "Yep, sis, you have classic 'daddy issues'." Society would also assume that I'm attracted to older men, I call my partner 'daddy,' I'm clingy and jealous, I crave attention from men and I need reassurance of love and affection. It's the standard answer, more so than "mama's boy", which doesn't carry the same stigma. A quick Google search of "mama's boy" required me to scroll and click around before I found articles.
However, for my search, it really wasn't about the men. Ultimately, I still attracted and tolerated the wrong ones. Now I only wanted to dissect the term for my own benefit because I was curious and I want to open myself up to a healthy relationship.
I knew my intuition was on point––when I chose to listen to it, that is. What I found is that this so-called "daddy issues" rhetoric is stereotypical and sexist and it doesn't only apply to women.
Here's what I learned about it specifically:
1. The Term "Daddy Issues" Isn't A Disorder, It's Disrespectful
"Daddy issues" isn't even a condition or disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In fact, Houston-based psychotherapist Amy Rollo told Healthline that she and many other experts don't even believe in daddy issues and that they see the phrase as a way to minimize women's attachment needs. An article in MindBodyGreen goes a step further to say that it belittles a woman's relationship struggles. Quite frankly, it's lowkey disrespectful and the more appropriate way to tackle it is to recognize and understand one's attachment style, which is explained here and discussed here.
2. Daddy Issues Aren't Gender-Specific
The first "daddy issue" originated between father and son. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud came up with the "father complex", which described "someone who has unconscious associations and impulses resulting from an individual's poor relationship with their father." Freud initially believed this father complex only affected men. The term didn't apply to women until later and then it stuck. And while modern-day attachment issues are almost always directed to father and daughter, they could actually be son and mother issues and grandparents can be added to the mix as well.
I can admit that I needed to do some internal work before I even considered entering a relationship. I would've repeated a toxic cycle indefinitely. I also can't argue that my relationship with my father didn't play a significant part in who I was attracted to. I gravitated towards whatever was familiar or whatever was wounded. That's also our way of changing the plots or endings to our ongoing narratives.
But misused and misunderstood labels like "daddy issues" are harmful. Women aren't the only gender trying to reconcile what we didn't get from absent parents to what we can't give or don't receive from our partners. Men do, too, all the time. A more helpful approach is to drop the "daddy issues" label and call it what it is.
Many of us, men and women alike, have difficulty forming healthy bonds with potential significant others. But with a little reflection and a whole lot of healing, we can all learn to form secure attachment styles, and perhaps then we'll finally find a true protector, defender, and real-life superhero in our partners.
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Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
A Yoni Massage Might Be Your Tantric Ticket To Sexual Healing
Acts of intimacy don't have to be limited to our lovers and sexual partners. In fact, when we utilize sacred techniques like yoni massages to explore deeper connections within ourselves, we create new pathways for healing and releasing shame.
“Yoni massages are a type of sensual massage — it's not necessarily about sex or foreplay,” says Brianne Patrice, a sensuality doula and founder of the sexual wellness platform, Twenty Nine Thirty. “The ultimate goal is for you to be more comfortable in your skin, tuned into your body, and be able to name and understand what brings you pleasure.”
Truth is, factors like shame, sexualization, and the belief that most conversations around sexual exploration are “taboo” can leave us feeling foreign in their bodies. “Our bodies might not represent our age because, as Black women, we have hips, butts, breasts, and we’re just curvaceous. A lot of us can grow into that relatively early, and it's not our fault, it's just the blessings of being a Black woman,” she says.
“We are not exactly taught what it means to have a body, to feel desired, to have a vagina, to interact with our vulva, and to have breasts.”
From the time we become young girls, teenagers, and even adults, labels and societal standards get placed on us long before we’re ever able to define what our bodies mean for ourselves. With this in mind, it’s important to have the tools necessary to make a safe return to ourselves.
“A lot of my clients start with journaling or breathwork, and some are more comfortable with diving off into the deep end with pleasure mapping, masturbation, and pleasure play,” Brianne says. “The practice is about allowing yourself to move away from past shame so you can cultivate a better relationship with your body.”
Navigating sexual trauma, PTSD, and even religious shame can seem like an uphill battle without the proper roadmap. Thankfully, utilizing a sexual doula like Brianna can provide you with the emotional and spiritual support you need to improve your self-intimacy.
Q: How does yoni massage work to promote sexual healing and a deeper connection with our inner being?
A: It's a spiritual practice. It's a practice that allows you to connect to your mind, restore a sense of safety, and remind you that this body of yours is deserving of pleasure. When we are talking about sexual healing and being in community with ourselves, we are talking about creating a sacred practice for us to be in union with ourselves.
It's not always going to feel good. It's not always so exciting or enjoyable. There will be moments where you're going to cry. There will be moments when hard feelings and emotions come up. But I always encourage people that instead of shying away from those moments, continue to move through those emotions and allow the movement of massaging yourself to melt away those emotions.
Q: What’s the difference between a yoni massage and masturbation?
A: It's really about the intention more than the act itself. We've been conditioned to think about masturbation as a quick 5-10 minutes to rub it out with our favorite toy, and then we’re on our way.
Whereas yoni massages are more of a mindful practice and the intention behind it isn't to orgasm. You're not in a rush. You're talking very clearly and intentionally about understanding your body. Yoni massages are more of a healing tool and can be a grounding practice as well. You’re coming back to yourself, filtering through your trauma, and releasing all of that pent-up emotion from past relationships, sexual trauma, your childhood, and religion.
Q: Should we be incorporating affirmation during yoni massages? How should we talk to ourselves during this practice?
A: Absolutely! It kind of tetters on the line of sex magic, and I adore sex magic. If you want to talk out loud, do it. If you want to keep it quiet and talk to yourself in your head, do it. However you want to communicate with yourself during this time, it’s up to you. You definitely should be speaking to yourself with kindness and asking yourself questions.
Speak life over yourself the way you would a partner or friend. Affirm yourself. Tell yourself how beautiful, fine, sexy, important, necessary, and abundant you are. Use that energy to your benefit because it's your energy, and it can absolutely allow you to manifest as well. Visualize your future self and have conversations with her. Again, this is your erotic energy, this is your purest energy, and it's the rawest form to use whatever you want to have a conversation with yourself.
Follow These Steps To Perform Your Own Yoni Massage:
Prepare your mind.
“We want to bring our full self into this, so take a few minutes to meditate and breathe slowly and deeply. Set the mood for yourself, whether that is lining satin sheets, lighting candles, or turning some music on. Court and date yourself in this process. The same way that you would want to set the mood for your partner, set the mood for yourself. Help yourself get into the mindset to explore your body.”
Look at yourself in the mirror.
“Spend time touching yourself in the mirror, standing up, and gently running your hands all over your body before you fully dive into the massage. Take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate your body in the mirror. It can be uncomfortable to be with ourselves in that vulnerable state, but I find it to be empowering to look in the mirror and never break the gaze you have with yourself.”
Find a comfortable space and position.
“It could be your bedroom or the bathroom, wherever you feel comfortable. Bend your legs or place your feet on the ground and spread your legs. Start with sensual touching, massaging your abdomen and your belly, playing with your breasts and your areolas.”
Stay connected to your heart.
“Try to keep at least one hand on your heart and the other hand playing with your yoni. Pay attention to your heart, how your heart rate is increasing, or if it is relaxed. Notice when your body tenses up, breathe, and force that energy back down to your yoni to relax. The goal again isn’t to orgasm — it can happen and more than likely will — the point of the massage is for you to be comfortable, confident, and to communicate with yourself.”
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