I'm in my 40s. Therefore, I remember mixtapes very well. I'm also a really big fan of music which is why, when it came to some of the guys I slept with, I preferred for there to be no music playing in the background at all. Not because music doesn't set the mood; it's actually because it does it far too well. To this day, if I hear R. Kelly's "Seems Like You're Ready", D'Angelo's "Lady" or "So Anxious" by Ginuwine, my mind immediately goes back to particular people and, umm, activities. And since I actually do want to listen to R&B for the rest of my life, I had to be careful about how songs were able to—pardon the pun—penetrate my mind and heart space during the act.
I thought about all of this as I was talking to a couple who absolutely adores the super sensual and sex-triggering slow jam "Breathe" by Raheem DeVaughn. As they shared with me some of the things that makes each time feel about as good as the first time, even 12 years later—yeah, talk about relationship goals—they told me that they create a new playlist for sex every season. That's right—four times a year. They said that putting the tracks together gets them extra hype. Then, when they play them, it feels like each song was written just for them and their love life—and that makes the intimacy that much more intense. As a bonus, whenever they listen to old playlists, it will take them back to a certain experience, position or technique and that inspires them to replay the moment all over again.
Just so I could put Raheem's song into better perspective, I went home to re-listen to it after having that convo. Apparently he agrees with where they were coming from because, peep this line—"I know your favorite love song and how you like it on repeat/I was born a patient lover, so I'll start with your feet." Wheeeeew…wheeeee.
It's one thing to have great sex moments. Hopefully, we've all had that. But after taking in the pearls of wisdom from the couple who seemed to get so hot discussing their sex life that I wondered if they were gonna strip right in front of me—again, relationship goals—it inspired me to share some of what takes for two individuals to go from having good sex every once in a while to having unbelievable sex, pretty much every single time that they do it.
1. They Really Like Sex. Like REALLY Like It.
Something that I don't think gets talked about nearly enough is how many people actually like sex. I don't mean they're attracted to their partner or that they can get into it once the right spot is touched or kissed. What I mean is, they have a really hard time, even going a week without experiencing the act itself. That it's something they find to be enjoyable, it's something they are super fond of, and it's something that they prefer doing over…a billion other things. These are the kind of individuals who really like sex—and when you like something, you want to do it as often as you can. You also want to get better and better at it so that you can grow to like it that much more.
I can't tell you how many sessions I've sat in where a woman has said to me, "I can go months without sex and I'm good." If you mean "good" in the sense of being a single woman who isn't going to settle when it comes to choosing a partner, I'm with you. If you're a wife telling me this, that is anything but good. What many conversations have revealed is, oftentimes, it has little to do with their relationship and more to do with their views on sex overall. This why, I had to lead off with, if you want to have a consistently awesome sex life, first ask yourself how "into sex" you are to begin with. People who have great sex on a regular basis already know the answer to that question.
2. They See Sex As Being Necessary. VERY NECESSARY.
For the past few years, something that I've been trying to make a regular part of my daily practice is the art of minimalism—figuring out what I actually need while not feeling like all of my wants are something that automatically should be pursued. Since doing this, my finances have stabilized, I have less debt and honestly, I feel lighter because I'm not clouded with so much excess…so much stuff. Where exactly am I going with this? Unfortunately, if a lot of people were asked if sex was a need or not, many of them would say "no". They would probably say something along the lines of it being something that's fun to do and, with the right person, a beautiful experience. But at the same time, if someone were to ask them if they found sex to be a very necessary part of their lifestyle, they might just say "Eh" and shrug their shoulders.
This isn't the case for couples who have consistently great sex. There's food, water, shelter—and sex. And here's the thing about when you see something as being a need—you make provisions for it, you make time for it, you rely on it to provide for some aspect of your life.
The things that I want, I'll get around to those at some point. The things that I need, those are top priorities, no matter what. See the difference? Couples who have the best sex treat their sex life like Column B not Column A.
3. They Practice Sexual Mindfulness
One of the worst things that someone can be during sex is mentally preoccupied. In other words, they aren't completely present or fully in the moment. While their body is doing one thing, their mind is thinking about the project they've got to finish, the bill that needs to be paid or even, someone other than their partner. Meanwhile, couples who have great sex on a consistent basis? Something that is important to them is practicing mindfulness.
"Mindful" is such a trendy self-help word these days but one of my favorite definitions is found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary—"the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis." Two people who are intentional about being non-judgmental of one another's bodies or performance while sharing each other's thoughts and remaining aware of one another's emotions? Shoot, that's getting me all hot 'n bothered just thinking about it. Yep, sexual mindfulness is the dopest of the dope.
4. They Are Mad Adventurous
While checking out an article that said most women "go off of sex" at some point in a long-term relationship, guess the reason that was given? Boredom. Sheer boredom. I get why too because when we're bored, we're uninspired, creativity has gone totally out of the window and everything is pretty predictable. Hmph. When you apply all of this to sex, the phrase "tedious repetition" (a definition for being bored) comes to mind. Boring sex sometimes isn't bad…it's just…boring. It pretty much comes down to going through the motions, and when sex is like that, checking out a movie you've never seen or even painting your nails a new color can be more compelling.
For couples who have an incredible sex life, they absolutely can't relate to wanting to substitute something for sex…especially while they are having it. A part of the reason why is because of how adventurous they are. They like having sex in new places. They enjoy testing out new positions. Some even have sex-themed vision boards or bucket lists. To them, the key to improving their sex life is figuring out how to top themselves as often as possible. Yeah, their sex life is never boring. More than that, their sex life is always satisfying.
5. They Make Sure They Are Emotionally Connected
Oftentimes, when someone hears the phrase "emotional connection", love or even being in love is what comes to mind. While this tends to be the case for a lot of sexually active couples, there are some individuals who have great sex, even if love isn't exactly on the radar (or on the radar yet). How is that possible? They listen to each other. They esteem each other. They make sure that they both feel safe in one another's presence. They feel close even when there is no physical interaction taking place. When it comes to their personal dynamic, they don't question if the other values them or appreciates having them in their lives. There is peace without drama. This is what a healthy emotional connection looks like. And when you feel secure and comfortable with your partner, it's the foundation for the kind of sexual relationship that only gets better and better with time.
6. They’ve Got a “Nasty Meter”
OK so, y'all. Our managing editor is someone that I communicate with, at least a couple of times a week. If you check for her article byline (Sheriden Chanel), you'll notice that most of her content is sex-related, so it's not like it's a secret that she's a free spirit. But after listening to the xoHappyHour Podcast episode "What My Parents Never Told Me About Sex"? Let me just say this—if you're still trying to figure out the differences in the three voices, Sheriden is going to be the one who says the most "Umm…wow" stuff when it comes to sex and sexuality. Truly, her nastiness meter knows no bounds. NO. BOUNDS. I'm willing to bet that she has had some pretty phenomenal experiences because of it too.
And why am I using the word "nasty" instead of uninhibited? Whenever I think of intense, sweaty, no holds barred sex, for some reason Janet Jackson's track to "Nasty" plays in my mind—"I don't like no nasty car, I don't like a nasty food/The only nasty thing I like is the nasty groove/Huh, will this one do?/Uh-huh, I know".
Nasty grooves. No inhibitions. Let's. Do. This…FOR REAL. If there are a list of rules for folks who consistently have great sex, those phrases would about sum it up.
7. They Are Open, Honest and Real
Anyone who is in a healthy relationship, they are going to say that communication is a main component to a satisfying and lasting connection with someone. When you're truly able to communicate, you are able to be open, honest and real. Well, when it comes to sexual activity, this means being open about what your desires are, honest about what is and isn't working for you and real—really real—about what you want your overall sexual experience to be like.
While we're on the word "open", folks who have great sex on a regular basis also tend to be open-minded. Certain things that they naturally might not have been willing to try before, because they trust their partner, they are willing to explore more than usual. This doesn't mean that they allow themselves to be forced or even manipulated into doing what they don't want to do. But what it does mean is because their relationship is so safe and authentic, certain things are definitely up for negotiation.
8. They Don’t Overthink Everything
Does my body look good with the lights on? Will she think I'm big enough? Is my vagina ugly? What if I cum too quick? What if I can't climax at all?? Is she excited? Am I wet enough? Goodness. If there is a super underrated reason for why more couples aren't having consistently fulfilling sexual experiences, it's that one or both individuals are thinking way too hard—and for the life of me, I don't know why. The more research I do on overthinking, the more toxic I see the habit actually is. Overthinking brings forth anxiety. Overthinking tends to create negative hypothetical situations that will probably never manifest. On the sexual tip, overthinking can prevent us from relaxing, letting loose and totally enjoying our partner.
Couples who have amazing sex on a constant basis know this. That's why they don't spend a lot of time worrying about body image or even their performance. As the late great Luke Perry, as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210, said on the night he and Brenda had sex for the first time, "We're not going to be judging each other. We're going to be enjoying each other." Words to live by. Very much so.
9. They Are More Focused on Giving than Receiving
If someone were to ask me what my favorite sex-related word was, in this season of my life, the answer would probably surprise them. Generous. There is nothing like experiencing copulation with someone who is a generous individual. When you're generous, you're liberal in how you give. When you are generous, you're unselfish. Generous people are also considerate, thoughtful, willing, ungrudging and totally free. They are the kind of lovers who enjoy giving oral sex because they like to see their partner happy. They are the type of partner who doesn't feel like sex is complete unless their partner climaxes.
Individuals who only give to get deserve all kinds of side-eye because, not only does that represent having a self-centered mentality, but it also reveals a lack of sexual maturity too. However, couples who are happiest when their partner is happy—how can the sex not totally be off-of-the-chain?
10. They Seek to Affirm and Heal with Every Experience
This one right here is probably my favorite. The reason why I say that is because, there are some sex partners and experiences that I've had that, as far as the act itself, things were pretty cool. But when it came to the actual person, in hindsight, they ended up doing me more harm than good.
Since sex is the kind of act that involves our mind, body and spirit, it's important to share the experience with someone who affirms every aspect of your being. It's even better when you are able to walk away feeling like some part of you was even healed in some way.
This is what I try and convey with the married couples that I work with. When they took vows to commit to the "becoming one process", a part of what should come with that is using sexual intimacy as a conduit to uphold and support their partner, to remind their partner of their beauty and worth—to make them feel like if there is anyplace where they can truly be "naked and not ashamed", it's with them.
And when you know that you know…that you know that you're sharing a bed with someone who wants to even use the act of sex to improve your quality of life as well as to soothe and restore you—whew! Why wouldn't you want to be in the presence of that kind of greatness, just as much as you possibly can? Anyone reading this who has great sex on a regular basis, I am confident that they are nodding their head in total agreement because this is exactly how they feel about their partner. And you know what, y'all? It doesn't get much better than that. Do it. (Pun totally intended.)
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
What GROWN Women Consider Great Sex To Be
How To Orgasm With Your Partner At The Same Time
Here's How To Make Morning Sex...Sexier
Why We Should Stop Using The Phrase "Make Love" So Much
Did you know that xoNecole has a podcast? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify to join us for weekly convos over cocktails (without the early morning hangover.)
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
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In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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