Since November is typically the month when a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of expressing gratitude for all of the things that you are thankful for and also since I tend to spend a somewhat significant amount of time talking about one of the things that makes womanhood so amazing — our vaginas — I thought that now was as good of a time as any to share some ways where you can actually show your vagina — and vulva (which is the outer part of your vagina) — some love in this lane. And while I know that, initially, this all might sound a little crazy, if you look at what gratitude really means, I'm thinking that it will help to put this into context in a pretty inspiring way.
Gratitude: to be appreciative
Appreciate: to be thankful for; to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on; to be fully conscious of; be aware of; detect; to raise in value
Vaginas help to bring us sexual pleasure. Vaginas play a role in our reproductive system and helping us to conceive. Oftentimes, our babies are birthed through our vaginas. How could something that holds so much significance not deserve to get a little appreciation every once in a while? So, in honor of my vagina and yours, here are 12 things that we all should at least consider doing in order to let "her" know that we see her and that we are so thankful for all that she does. Straight up.
1. Think of All of the Reasons Why You’re Thankful for Your Vagina
I've got a friend who says that she's never looked at her vagina, professionally "manicured" her vagina, or really given her vagina much thought at all. "I mean, I'll cut the hair down sometimes for my husband but that's about it." As a marriage life coach and doula (by profession, I see a lot of vaginas due to the second gig) and also knowing that she's been married for over 30 years and has vaginally birthed two kids, I often say, "You don't want to show your vagina some gratitude for all that 'she's' done for you?" She always finds that to be a hybrid of hilarious and ridiculous. Meanwhile, I'm dead serious.
It's easy to take anything for granted when you don't stop to reflect on what it does for you — body parts included. So, before doing anything else, take a moment to think about why your vagina is bomb. I've done it and doing so has made it a lot easier to do some of the other things on this list, consistently and without hesitation.
2. Bathe in Honeysuckle and Coconut Oil Once a Week
Whether it's to soothe any minor irritation that your vulva may be experiencing or to pamper it, treat your genital region to a soak — one that contains honeysuckle and coconut oil. While some of you may not have heard the word "honeysuckle" since you were a kid, it's actually got a ton of health-related benefits including the fact that it contains properties to help reduce inflammation, strengthen your immunity and help to prevent viruses too. If you add to honeysuckle, a half cup of coconut oil, thanks to the oil's potent antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, it can help to naturally reduce yeast-related symptoms, fight UTIs and also restore moisture if you happen to be dealing with any vaginal dryness.
And where, pray tell can you find honeysuckle? A lot of health food stores that carry loose leaf herbs happen to have it. In fact, Walmart even sells it online (click here). Add ½ to a cup of honeysuckle and a couple of tablespoons of organic coconut oil to your bath water, let it sit for 10 minutes, soak for 20 and you'll be in a bath of luxury.
3. Soak in a Sea Salt Water Solution Following Your Period
I don't know about you but sometimes, on the day after the last day of my period, there is a little bit of discharge that irritates my vulva. Something that helps to bring everything back to balance is soaking in a tub that has about a half cup of sea salt in it. This works because this kind of salt contains antibacterial properties that help to decrease itching while also stopping bacteria from multiplying. A 30-minute soak, two days in a row after your cycle, should just about do the trick.
4. Cleanse Your Vagina with a Rosemary, Basil and Honey Solution
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the site entitled, "Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes." The main reason why is because, from articles I've read, conversations with health professionals that I've had, and also personal experience, I've learned that when it comes to cleaning my vagina 1) less is more and 2) if you do want to use a wash of some sort, it should be as natural as possible. Here's where another DIY recipe comes in. If you make one that consists of rosemary, basil leaves, organic honey, and distilled water, your vulva can receive all sorts of benefits (because remember, your vagina is self-cleaning, so it doesn't need any "help").
Rosemary oil is dope because it's loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to fight bacterial growth and increase blood circulation. Basil leaves are awesome because they have antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties in them. And honey? Honey is good because it has antibacterial and antifungal effects properties in it that can help your vagina to maintain its natural flora while also soothing irritated skin and even helping to fight off a yeast infection.
Just steep two cups of basil leaves in three cups of distilled water (which is the kind of water that has no impurities in it) for an hour. In the last two minutes, add three tablespoons of organic honey and two tablespoons of rosemary oil. Pour the solution into a container and then use it as needed. It's great.
5. Treat Your Vagina Like a Plant
Did you know that talking to your plants can help them to fight off infection? Along these same lines, while there isn't necessarily a lot of scientific data that supports talking to your vagina, you definitely should feel comfortable talking about it (especially with your doctor) as well as looking at it on a fairly consistent basis; not just as a preventative measure but so that you can become more confident with that part of your body too (check out "10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem").
One way to do that is by giving yourself a vaginal self-exam (check out "Why You Should Give Yourself A 'Vaginal Self-Exam'"). As you're doing it, have a "plant parent" mentality by being positive, gentle and at peace with whatever your vulva and vagina look like (check out "Did You Know That There Are 10 Different Kinds Of Vaginas? Yep.") because they're all special and wondrous in their own special way.
6. Eat Probiotic Foods
When you get a chance, check out "80% Of Your Immunity Is In Your Gut. Take Care Of It Like This." Since so much of your immune system is in your gut and because there are good and bad bacteria in it, it's important to consume probiotics in order to keep the bad bacteria from taking over. This same line of thinking applies to your vagina because there are good and bad bacteria there too.
In fact, there is actually a strain of probiotics known as L. acidophilus that has been proven to help keep your vagina's pH in balance (check out "Sis, This Is How To Keep Your Vagina's pH Balanced"); the more "balance" you have, the less prone you will be to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Some foods that are high in probiotics include fermented ones like yogurt, pickles, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, pickled veggies, and kefir.
7. Take Your Vagina on a Panty Shopping Spree
I'm willing to bet some pretty good money that you've got some panties that are well past their expiration date. How do I know? Because we are supposed to swap out the old for the new, every six months. So yeah, nothing says, "I love you, vagina. Good lookin' out" quite like setting aside some time to do nothing but purchase new undies. Cotton ones for day-to-day wear so that your vagina can breathe. Silk, satin, and/or lace ones to seduce your partner. Boy shorts because they are comfortable and still casually sexy. Some hipsters and bikinis because the cuts are cute on just about everyone. Some thongs for when you don't want your panty lines to show. Some control briefs for your bloat days. And if you're really honest with yourself, it's probably time to get some new period drawers too. If anything carries bacteria, it's those bad boys.
It would suck to get a yeast infection following your period because your panties had your vulva and vagina all stressed out. Anyway, Women's Health Mag published an article on some of the best period panties around. You can check it out here.
8. Give Your Vagina a Massage
If there's one thing that you keep telling yourself that you are going to start doing more often is getting a massage, take the time to read "12 Different Massage Types. How To Know Which Is Right For You.," then consider giving yourself a vaginal massage. While, off the rip, it might sound like I'm talking about masturbation, I'm actually not. Sometimes, I will take a favorite carrier oil (sweet almond is one of mine; it's good for the vulva because it deeply moisturizes) and gently massage my vaginal lips (especially once I get out of the shower).
It's great because it improves blood circulation, adds healing oils to that area of my body, and helps to de-stress my vagina (check out "Ever Wonder If Your Vagina Is Stressed TF Out?") too. While a lot of cities actually have vaginal massage practitioners (some prefer to call themselves a yoni massage practitioner), this really is an exercise that you can do on your own, so long as you're doing it strictly for pampering purposes only.
9. Apply Some All-Natural Vagina Oil
Not too long ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "OK, So WTF Is 'Winter Vagina'?". Long story short, when it's cold outside and/or you spend too much time in dry HVAC heat, it can dry out your vulva lips and lead to irritation or discomfort. Something that can bring about some much-needed relief is applying a little bit of oil. Just make sure it's an oil that is proven to be highly beneficial for your skin (and won't irritate your vulva) like grapeseed (it's got an abundance of Vitamin E in it), avocado (it improves elasticity and helps to prevent dry skin) and sunflower oil (it's got Vitamin E, antioxidants, fatty acids, and linoleic acid to help your skin to retain moisture). Whether applied separately or mixed together, these oils will be sure to keep your vaginal lips well soothed and moisturized.
10. Let “Her” Breathe Sometimes
I've shared before that while my health is pretty darn good, one thing that I do have is fungal sensitivity. As a result, I have to be super proactive when it comes to staying away from things that would trigger a yeast infection or a skin condition known as tinea versicolor. For instance, sometimes there will be a patch of skin, underneath my armpit, that will turn into a yeast patch. It can be hell because, since my arm is down 95 percent of the time, that can be a breeding grown for moisture which yeast likes to thrive off of.
Another place that stays moist is your vagina. So, in order to keep it from being a breeding ground for bad bacteria and an overgrowth of yeast too, it's important that you let it breathe sometimes as well. Definitely go to bed naked (at least a few times a week) and shoot, don't be afraid to go commando (if you're wearing a dress or skirt; pants could be really uncomfortable and cause unnecessary friction) sometimes also. Because, word on the street is, wearing underwear less often can also reduce your chances of getting a UTI (urinary tract infection) because you decrease the risk of tiny pieces of fecal matter going into your vagina. Plus, you also reduce the chances of your vaginal lips chafing or getting irritated. The more you know.
11. Drink Some Pomegranate Juice (in a Champagne Glass)
If you've never tried pomegranate juice, I personally find it to taste pretty good. And once I found out how beneficial it was to my health, I started making it a part of my health regimen. Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants and Vitamin C. It's loaded with anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Plus, it has Vitamin E and potassium in it. This means that when it comes to your vagina specifically, this is the kind of juice that can help to keep bacteria at bay, moisturize your vagina and even act as an aphrodisiac too.
Just pour some of it in a champagne glass — you know, to toast you and "her" — and you're good to go in more ways than one, chile.
Write a Vaginal Mission Statement (No, Really!)
Personally, I'm all about mission statements, not just professionally but personally as well. To me, they are a succinct way of sharing what you believe the purpose, intention, and desire for an overall thing or goal should be. And well, when you put it that way, why shouldn't your vagina have its own mission statement? What purpose does "she" serve? What's your intention for her? What do you desire to be the ultimate outcome for her in this season of your life?
Because, as unconventional as it might sound to approach your vagina from this angle, when you're clear about what you want for her and how you want her to be treated, it will make upkeep, health-related priorities, "extracurricular activities" and yes, showing her some gratitude so much easier to do. So, before this month wraps up, definitely jot down a paragraph or two that centers around a mission statement for your vagina. She'll appreciate the forethought — and sis, so will you. Give thanks.
To learn more about all things vaginal health and wellness, check out the xoNecole Women's Health section here.
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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 (email@example.com) 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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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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